22 April 2022

Study to pinpoint East Lake's future population and needs

| Ian Bushnell
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East Lake aerial

East Lake from the air. Thousands will eventually call it home. Photo: ACT Government.

Who will live in the part industrial wasteland of the East Lake urban renewal area and what will they need?

These are the questions the ACT Government wants answered as it prepares for a significant transformation of the strategically-located site between Kingston and Fyshwick, bordering the Jerrabomberra wetlands.

The area has been earmarked for medium-to-high density residential development for years but a new Community Needs and Demographic Assessment will provide information vital to how the area will take shape.

The site covers parts of the suburbs of Kingston, Fyshwick and Griffith. It includes Canberra Railway Station, the Mildura Street industrial/commercial area and the growing Canberra Avenue east-west corridor linking Canberra with Queanbeyan.

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Earlier studies envisaged 9000 people living in the precinct and 3000 working there.

The ACT Government intends to release land between the railway corridor and the wetlands, with an initial target of 650 residential dwellings in 2025/26.

Earlier this year it released a tender for a lead consultant to design a Place Plan and Indicative Development Concept, provide a Planning Report to support a variation of the Territory Plan to facilitate the project and an Estate Development Plan.

SGS Economics and Planning has been hired separately to do the demographic study, which will look 30 years into the future.

It will analyse current and future population projections of the East Lake site and surrounds based on the ACT’s growing and changing population and household types.

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The study will look at what education, community, sports and recreation facilities exist in the area and what may be needed as East Lake develops.

It will include options and recommendations for future facilities and when they should be introduced, including money-saving opportunities like co-locating facilities such as schools.

It will also provide a detailed analysis of existing Inner South schools’ current and future capacity to meet additional future demand for enrolments and whether new schools will need to be built, taking into account proximity to residential areas, public transport and active travel routes.

“This analysis will consider the current and future retail, employment and residential growth/trends, the changing demographic characteristics of the area and any implications on the demand for education, community, sport and recreation facilities in East Lake and Canberra’s Inner South,” the contract details say.

SGS will consult with existing and emerging community organisations, local service providers, the Dhawura-Ngunnawal Caring for Country Committee and ACT Government Directorates.

A final report with recommendations is expected in mid-July.

READ ALSO Light rail development opponents need to be part of the solution

The government envisages East Lake being comprised of various housing types such as townhouses, terrace houses and other ‘missing middle’ medium-density housing, with higher densities in strategic locations around transport infrastructure and services.

The aim will be for a mix of public and affordable housing, long-term rental accommodation such as Build-to-Rent models and multigenerational housing, incorporating adaptable ‘universal design’ to create a diverse community.

The government hopes East Lake can also include an innovation hub, leveraging Fyshwick CIT as part of business and industry activity in the precinct.

It expects the area to be fully integrated into active transport links such as cycling paths and public transport, including possibly light rail, which could link with a new interstate rail line.

The area, contaminated by former industrial use and dumping, will have to be rehabilitated before any development occurs. That, too, is being handled separately.

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There is plenty of land just like this available for building. But the blinkered defenders of Greens/Labor limited land supply policy, that aims to raise land values and government revenue can’t see it, blinded as they are by greed for money to pay for trams and arrogant indifference to consequential housing unaffordability.

Perhaps you can specifically identify where all this free land is then Acton?

In reality, development capable land within the ACT is very constrained. Well unless you want to ignore pesky things like the environment, heritage or planning constraints.

Chewy, your repeated harping that the ACT is short on land is nonsense. Plenty of empty land in Gungahlin, and between Canberra and Queanbeyan, east of the Majura Parkway, West basin / molongolo, and the whole damn way to Yass and Sutton. What 99 yr leases are up in the next 5 years? Environmental, heritage and planning / zoning rules are no justification for a subsection of the community to be in housing stress, these costs should be shared across the community by all.

It’s not harping on, it’s recognising reality.

I know this doesn’t fit with your free and infinite land release proposal but it’s just fact.

Firstly Yass and Sutton are not in the ACT so I don’t know why they are mentioned. But if you take a look at Yass Councils freely available information online, they too identify many constraints to unfettered land development in the area.

The other areas you mention have already been investigated and either are already planned for development, have significant identified constraints that make them not feasible for development or are extremely expensive, defeating your whole idea of affordable housing.

“Environmental, heritage and planning / zoning rules are no justification for a subsection of the community to be in housing stress”

At least you admit you don’t care about the environment, next you’ll be promoting toxic waste dumps in the city (ironically exactly like this area in the past) because adequate waste management forces some people in to poverty to pay for it.

We always need to balance competing interests and this is one of them.

The amount of readily available development land in the ACT is finite and running out. Those that disagree either can’t use maps or don’t care about the many land constraints and liveability issues prevent blanket development of any open space.

ROFL! Yass council is challenged to find land for development? That’s a pretty impressive own goal right there Chewy. If you believe that then i’ve got a bridge to sell you. The rest is vintage NIMBY.

You seem to not know much about planning because you can’t just build houses anywhere and expect to create a suburb, town, city, region.

Or any type of liveable community where people would actually want to live.

What you’re promoting is a theoretical exercise that if land exists it can be built on and miraculously people will live there with no problems. That you can artificially create affordable housing by just building on every open space and things will work themselves out.

It isn’t reality.

You need support services, transport, schools, water, electricity, hospitals, employment areas etc, etc, etc.

And that’s without even looking at natural challenges and constraints such as terrain or the environment.

I only mentioned the Yass council because you did and you’ll note I didn’t say they were challenged to find land for development, I said they’d identified many constraints. Constraints that you either don’t know about or want to conveniently ignore because they highlight that what you’re promoting isn’t actually possible.

It’s also hilarious that you think I’m in any way a NIMBY, when I’ve repeatedly posted on how sustainable densificiation of Canberra will balance the competing interests to provide a more liveable city. And how the actual NIMBYs of Canberra are making housing more expensive for younger, poorer Canberrans.

What you’re putting forward either ends with people forced into huge nondescript tower apartment blocks over tiny spaces ala Hong Kong/Singapore or unfettered urban sprawl in all directions.

Neither is particularly attractive.



How about the award winning Pinnacle@Duxton?

If you want to densify Canberra and solve the housing affordability crisis, then Singapore’s HDB is the exemplar. Given our much lower pop and greater land area, we can of course opt for lower density developments.

Thanks for outlining my point, tiny high rise apartments that would not be acceptable to the local Australian market and most definitely not in Canberra. As I said previously, you would have to remove people’s freedoms to force them to live like that. Good luck with finding a political party to win elections with that platform.

“you want to densify Canberra and solve the housing affordability crisis, then Singapore’s HDB is the exemplar.”

With an average of less than 80m2 per apartment, I don’t think so.

“Given our much lower pop and greater land area, we can of course opt for lower density developments.”

Which is exactly what I’m promoting whist still maintaining our way of life, within our own unique natural environment.

We don’t need to ruin our city and natural environment to achieve the required housing outcomes.

The fact is that HDB flats reached an average size of 120 sqm for newly-built units in the mid 1990s, a world record for public housing.

Are there any other facts or narratives you want to make up chewy?

I don’t need to make up anything Assiduous, you’re making my arguments for me. Can’t see where I said anything about “new builds”, perhaps you should take your own advice.

If you’re promoting Singapore as your ideal (that’s a question) are you also promoting the fact that they’ve made up a large percentage of their local flora and fauna extinct, with most remaining species now only found in small nature reserves, around 5% of their total land area?

That’s the path you want to go down? That’s your “exemplar”?

Don’t think you’re going to find much support for that type of position.

My initial reply to your question did not make it past the moderators. Words to the effect that as you are so fond of monitoring and recording my remarks you should check back to what I previously said and why. I repeat that there is plenty of land suitable for housing, eg between Fyshwick and Queanbeyan south of Canberra Ave, but that land is not being released as a deliberate policy to inflate values, prices and ACT government revenue. Denuded treeless former grazing land in a convenient location would seem perfect to all but those who have an ideological obsession with expensive infill.

I’ve literally already linked you to the planning reports online showing that area is not suitable for large scale residential development, has significant environmental, heritage and other constraints and will most likely only have some commercial or light industrial development in parts in the future.

Perhaps you want to try again with a new area?

Although thanks for highlighting the exact type of ignorance I’ve been talking about. People who have no idea see a piece of open land and assume we can build houses on it, without any consideration about why that might not be possible or a good idea.

It’s clear who has the ideological position and it isn’t me.

HiddenDragon6:47 pm 27 Apr 22

This area will surely just be more of the same – i.e. an enclave/playground dominated by people who make (or made, in the case of well-heeled retirees) their very nice incomes in the Parliamentary Triangle.

The innovation hub is a nice bit of decoration on what will overwhelmingly be a residential real estate strategy, but unless the rents are generously and consistently subsidised, the area would be out of reach for many startups.

Capital Retro8:01 am 29 Apr 22

It’s not a very good place to build houses. There are heaps of mossies everywhere and always a whiff of poo from the “chocolate wheel” on Dairy Flat road.

Prone to flooding from unprecedented extreme weather events, too.

Those anti-development NIMBYs at the ISCCC are gunna go Category 6 berserk at this, shrieking about trees, density, plaaaaaaaning, carbon footprints, congestion, parking, heritage, amenity, blah blah blah.

It’s the way rich people say, “#@%& off, we’re full”.

Not gleefully, but I hope ten stories, supa-dense, super cheap and affordable, 15% reserved for public housing. It’s a great site, close to city, triangle, Fyshwick, Queanbeyan, airport precinct, and with some improved buses, residents could get to Woden in 15 mins on express buses.

Would be great to see some affordable housing options there.

The chances of this premium lakefront area containing affordable housing is somewhere between Buckley’s and none.

Agreed there are challenges there, however it’s not all “premium lakefront” land so, while it is difficult, it’s not insurmountable.

The land values here will be (already are) astronomical.

If this isn’t premium land, then nowhere in Canberra is.

There will be no chance of “affordable” property here and there probably shouldn’t be.

The closer towards Kingston the pricier it gets, the closer towards Fyshwick it’s less pricey. It will be interesting to see how the planning for the whole area unfolds and this is what the article was about. We’ll wait and see.

“Less pricey” is this instance is still going to be astronomically high. There’s no way you can try and even remotely claim any of it will be cheap. Have you even remotely followed what has happened at the Kingston Foreshore that was similarly on a dump site?

And particularly so when further east is the Dairy Road site that is also going to be developed with residential housing.

There’s nothing to wait and see about it. You only need to look at the location to know all you need to.

O really? And, BTW, what University are you studying for a Masters in Hyperbole at?
If you actually read the article, and then read the subsequent posts, you would find that the article is about future planning for the Eastlakes area. The post I responded to was about having affordable housing in the mix of development. I responded that having some affordable options would be great. There really isn’t a debate her Chewy14, most people recognise how difficult it is, given the high land and property values (across most of Australia actually) to have affordable housing options. That’s the challenge. Neither you nor I know what the outcomes of this planning will be and whether or not there will be options available for affordable housing. I’m just honest enough to admit it.

You said it would be great if there were affordable housing options there.

I responded that there is almost zero chance of that occurring due to the land values and constraints of the area.

Which is correct.

You disagreed but provided no detail on how it would occur other than that apparently the closer you go to Fyshwick, the less expensive the land will be. Even though as I’ve responded, less expensive in this area, will still be enormously high compared to Canberra averages.

The only way that “affordable housing” could be built in the area is if extremely high density, tall apartment blocks were built which isn’t allowed under the National Capital Plan or if the government significantly subsidised property prices defeating one of the major reasons for building in the area, the financial return to government.

So unless you think that the Government is going to start giving away prime lakefront land, it’s not going to be “affordable housing”.

You’re right though in that there is no debate here, the location and constraints of the land define and limit what is feasible development for the area. Exactly as they did for Kingston Foreshore.

You haven’t read my posts. As mentioned earlier whatI said in response to the first post in this thread agreed that it would be good if there could be an affordable housing option somewhere in this large development. I assume you agree that this would be a good thing rather than a bad thing, right?
I also acknowledged that it is difficult because of the land value , particularly in the areas closer to kingston. At no time did I suggest that I had an answer to the problem, this is something you have made up to set up a false argument. To continue your false argument, you also referred to “prime lakefront land”. I don’t think you realise that some parts of the land are old semi-industrial areas, not “prime lakefront”. Either you’re not aware of this or, again, trying to set up a false argument. Perhaps just settle down a bit and stop banging a tin drum trying to seek attention. To repeat the original post, It would be great if there could be some affordable housing options there. We’ll wait and see what comes out of the planning exercise.

No as I said previously, I don’t agree that it would be necessarily good to have affordable housing options here. Why should other taxpayers subsidise people to live in premium city locations?

Affordable housing is created through market wide actions of which our local government only has partial control over. Most of which they’re already doing anyway.

The only true way we we can really create more sustainable long term affordable housing is policy changes at the federal level.

Artificially subsidising buyers in certain areas as one of the options is not a good way to deliver any form of affordable housing and creates huge inequities. And as outlined, there are no other options for delivering affordable housing here.

“I don’t think you realise that some parts of the land are old semi-industrial areas”

Uh, what do you think one of the biggest specific land constraints that make the area so expensive are?
Perhaps you should actually read my comments where I mentioned it?

“Have you even remotely followed what has happened at the Kingston Foreshore that was similarly on a dump site?”

Although thanks for highlighting one of my main points as to why any housing here will be so expensive, because of the large remediation costs required before people would be allowed to live there. Exactly as occurred at the Kingston Foreshore area.

So the underlying land value due to location is very high, the development cost then makes it even higher = Equals no chance of affordable housing.

Your posts are like saying it would be great if the government provided everyone with a Ferrari and then wondering why someone might point out the logical problems with doing so.

If you think that affordable housing is the equivalent of everyone being provided with a Ferrari then it’s probably difficult for you to get a grip on the issues involved. And if you check a map of the area, then you might notice that a couple of kms away is the Longstay caravan park. So you obviously don’t understand the area. Either way, there’s no need to jump to conclusions based on your own prejudices and stereotypes. You might end up with egg on your face if your little homilies prove to be incorrect. Be patient, wait and see.

Long stay caravan park is a few km’s away?


No seriously, that’s your point?

Are you trying to say that the caravan park is a type of affordable housing that could be built here? Or something similar?

I’d love for you to explain exactly how the government could spend tens of millions of dollars in land rehabilitation costs and then build and pay for something “affordable” without major subsidies? Even forgetting the inherent subsidy involved in the land value.

After your comments on the light rail over the years, it’s clear you don’t understand economics but this is taking it to fairyland.

Don’t worry about egg on faces, I’ll remember to bookmark this thread for a few years time, your comments are laughable.

Yes the Long stay caravan park is a few km’s away. I don’t think you know the area very well so let’s leave it at that. Obviously affordable housing was an important issue for when your generation was in the home-buying market but not for the next generation. That’s self-interest writ large so not worth discussing further. You didn’t get the original point that everyone acknowledges that affordable housing in rapidly gentrifying areas is a challenging issue however perhaps just leave it to the planning experts to reach any possible solutions. That’s their job – not yours……thankfully. I’m happy to keep an open mind about possible solutions, you’re obviously not.

I clearly know the area better than you do, seeing as I’ve provided you multiple points as to why what you say you would “like” is not possible and your apparent best response is that there is a caravan park a few kms away in a different area.

You have provided nothing to oppose the logic provided but simple motherhood statements about how more affordable housing would be good. Well sure, maybe. But it isn’t relevant here.

Although at least you admit your ignorance on the issue, in suggesting you want to leave it to the planners. Some of us don’t need to do that.

And I don’t know where youve gotten the idea I’m from an older generation or don’t have an open mind about solutions. Both are wrong.

I’m simply pointing out the logical reasons as to why this area will be a high end development area that almost certainly won’t include affordable housing. And certainly not without significant government subsidy. It’s simple fact as already spelled out to you.

Hi chewy 14, sometimes you come up with quite good and reasoned analysis on issues however at other times you seem to try to make up arguments where none exist. This is one of those times. No one is saying that there is likely to be a lot of high end development around this area so you can drop that argument. There is also no need to get upset about the ACT government examining various options for the development of this area. So perhaps just let them do their job without catcalling from the sidelines hmmm?

I simply provided you with a logical analysis of why your stated wishes were extremely unlikely to occur. As seen elsewhere, what people want and what’s feasible are often two very different things.

We are commenting on an article about the area, you can either respond to the points made or simply fall back to your already stated position that you have no answers.

There’s no harm in you admitting this is not an area you have expertise in. Perhaps this is part of your learning process to be a more informed commenter in the future.

Linda Seaniger3:23 pm 25 Apr 22

So the interstate rail line (hopefully high speed) will utilise the current Kingston station and rail corridor? Yeah, Forget the light tram connection thst would be too slow to make a visable connection from the outer suburbs of Canberra in the morning. it’s already impossible from the outer suburbs when you have to go via Civic to end up at Kingston station via bus.
Hence Before Covid I would simply catch Murry’s bus to Sydney.. That changed because the rapid bus from Western Creek does not connect with the suburb bus so Now I’m expected to lug lmy suitcase 850 m down the road. So much for our transport system in the ACT.

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