11 September 2017

Top planning bureaucrats to field Inner South development concerns at public forum

| Ian Bushnell
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Two public events this week will give Inner South residents the chance to voice their concerns about housing, planning issues, building rules and apartment construction.

Organised by the Inner South Canberra Community Council, tomorrow night’s Public Forum on Canberra’s Planning and Building Rules at the Eastlakes Football Club will include Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion Rachel Stephen-Smith (on behalf of Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman), Director General of the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate Ben Ponton, Deputy Director General of Access Canberra David Peffer, and President of the Owners Corporation Network Canberra Gary Petherbridge.

Mr Ponton will talk about planning issues in Canberra, Mr Peffer will discuss building regulation and enforcement, and Mr Petherbridge will take on apartment construction issues.

On Thursday night at the East Hotel, Chair of the Legislative Assembly’s Planning and Urban Renewal Standing Committee Caroline Le Couteur will be the guest speaker at a forum on the Future of Planning in Kingston and Barton hosted by the Kingston and Barton Residents Association.

Ms Le Couteur will make a short presentation, followed by a Q&A session. Particular topics can be placed on the agenda by emailing kingstonandbarton@gmail.com.

ISCCC Chair Marea Fatseas said the forums provided an opportunity to identify residents’ main concerns, which would be incorporated into the council’s submission to Ms Le Couteur’s inquiry into housing in the ACT.

She also hoped they would encourage more individual submissions, which are due by the end of October.

“There are major issues with the way the planning system works at the moment. It’s so complex for people to try to understand how it works, and that’s not only for individuals who want to to do something with their house, or who sees someone building next door but even for the developers,” she said.

“It’s a mountain of stuff that you have to get on top of to try to understand what you can and can’t do.”

Ms Fatseas said planning and building rules continued to be flouted, with Access Canberra recording a significant increase in complaints.

According to data obtained by Ms Le Couteur through Freedom of Information, there were 232 building related complaints in 2014-15, followed by 334 the following year. Planning related complaints totaled 191 in 2014-15, increasing to 275 in 2015-16.

Ms Fatseas said the planning system also lacked long-term consistency with rules and policies subject to change from Government.

She said the inclusion of the 53,000sq m site of the former Red Hill public housing blocks in a prospectus touting ACT land for potential luxury hotel developments to Hong Kong investors was a good example of this uncertainty.

“There was detailed consultation with residents that took a long time and reached some sort of agreement on density of residential development, and all of a sudden does that mean that all that consultation process is junked because of the potential for it to be a hotel?” she said.

Ms Fatseas urged people, particularly younger residents, to attend the forums.

Tomorrow night’s forum at Eastlakes starts at 7 pm and should conclude by 9 pm.

Thursday night’s event is in the Vinyl Room at the East Hotel and will run from 6.30 – 7.30 pm.

For more information go to https://www.isccc.org.au/

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