Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Opinion

Canberra insurance broker
of choice since 1985

Town cramming for Canberra

By Paul Costigan - 29 November 2017 7
building. Photo: Paul Costigan.

Let’s talk about Town Cramming. Photo: Paul Costigan.

Why are we so unfortunate here in Canberra to have a string of planning and urban development ministers who feel that it is their duty to say something regularly to upset those who enjoy a fantastic ambience within inner Canberra?

The first time in recent years was when the then planning minister and chief planner insisted that the suburbs of Dickson and those nearby had to change and that older people had to move on and make way for a younger generation. The trouble being their statement was fact-checked and it turned out that Dickson already had a fairly youngish (mid 30s average) population.

The inner north and inner south of Canberra have both been the subject of many ungracious developments that have favoured developers over the aspirations of the residents.

What people have learned is that while they are often more than welcoming of changes and developments – it is the quality and quantity of these developments that are simply so wrong.

So when the government flew a kite recently, along with the support of the property lobbyists, that maybe the regulations could be changed to allow for more multiple developments on normal residential land (classed as RZ1) – I think there was a collective groan from residents.

Not that most would not support flexibility and changes where appropriate – it is just that the statements were more about spin and weasel words than any credible argument for change.

For instance, over recent years this government’s planning and development have not delivered substantially on social housing and affordable housing. Yet there it was again: More emotive stuff on the need to address affordable housing being misused to justify why we need to take the well-established suburbs and to apply the principles of town cramming.

Yah – now wouldn’t that be great for the development lobby? As for the residents present and into the future – I fear the worst.

Unfortunately, around the same time, some pesky evidence was published that clearly set out the extent of the myth constantly portrayed by the property lobby and so conveniently churned into copy in most media. The consistent line is that there is a shortage of housing. Whereas the evidenced-based research proves that in fact we have an oversupply – and in Canberra this may be as high as 6,700.

Photo: Paul Costigan.

Photo: Paul Costigan.

So what is really wrong with this push for ‘town cramming’ as promoted by the property lobbyists, and then the minister, and finally published within most of the media?

Surely residents would like to see their suburbs enhanced, would like to see opportunities for people to live and enjoy their suburbs, such as Dickson, and surely they want to see the suburb modernized to have better dwellings that are designed and adapted to be more energy efficient and built to suits 21st-century requirements? Surely all this can be delivered and still enhance the ambience of the inner suburbs with even more tree canopy and even better biodiversity?

Yes, it can – but it has not happened.

Nothing like this has been delivered over the last decade or so of planning and development here in Canberra. It is this lack of poor performance and lack of credibility in the planning system that has built in the resistance to such announcements as that made by the Minister for Town Cramming recently.

While the planning system remains super complex and inaccessible for mere mortals to understand, while the planning bureaucrats continue to approve all forms of questionable developments, while they justify such silliness with all the usual spin, and while the delivery of development has a history of allowing developers to be blessed with ‘variations’ and ‘technical adjustments’ that were not approved in the original applications, then announcements for more Town Cramming are going to be seen for what they are.

This form of Town Cramming should not be even considered until the minister can assure the residents that the planning system has been massively changed to make it accessible, transparent and function to deliver a well designed national capital.

Our planners need to be planning not to appease the property lobbyists. Let’s return to planning to deliver neighbourhoods that include good design, even better landscapes, and all of this integrated to deliver even better living standards for all – including people with disabilities, aging women, those requiring social housing and all the rest of us and our children.

Now there’s a challenge.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Let us know by commenting below.

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
7 Responses to
Town cramming for Canberra
dungfungus 5:49 pm 03 Dec 17

I am a Rabbit™ said :

Suburbia is an economic and ecological disaster. If people want to live on blocks with large backyards, they shouldn’t be prevented from doing so – but they should be expected to be subsidised by others for their inefficient usage of land. The ACT government needs to follow in the steps in European governments by abolishing rates and replacing it with an all-inclusive land rates scheme.

“subsidised by others “

Exactly, who are the “others”?

bj_ACT 1:45 pm 03 Dec 17

I am a Rabbit™ said :

Suburbia is an economic and ecological disaster. If people want to live on blocks with large backyards, they shouldn’t be prevented from doing so – but they should be expected to be subsidised by others for their inefficient usage of land. The ACT government needs to follow in the steps in European governments by abolishing rates and replacing it with an all-inclusive land rates scheme.

To be fair, cities and suburbia that are about 500,000 to 1 million population size are better for economy and ecology, than very big cities or alternatively town and rural living. Plenty of studies have supported this approach.

Instead of adding hundreds of thousands of new people to the big cities or out into small towns, Australia and the ACT Government should be encouraging best practice development in Canberra and looking to create other small scale cities that offer a high value economic and environmentally sustainable return.

Unless Australians want to freeze population growth and migration, we need to learn how to better manage community living at a social, environmental and economic level.

More job creation and better services in the town centres, not in Civic or the Airport will be better on many measures.

I am a Rabbit™ 10:55 am 03 Dec 17

Suburbia is an economic and ecological disaster. If people want to live on blocks with large backyards, they shouldn’t be prevented from doing so – but they should be expected to be subsidised by others for their inefficient usage of land. The ACT government needs to follow in the steps in European governments by abolishing rates and replacing it with an all-inclusive land rates scheme.

Woden Valley Communi 10:17 pm 02 Dec 17

Paul, I am afraid the densification of Woden will bring town cramming in some situations. Is it ok if I use your language of ‘town cramming’? Fiona Carrick

Maya123 1:40 pm 01 Dec 17

maryclare said :

I’m interested Paul in your choice of photos for this article, do you think this is an example of cramming?

I think the choice of photographs shows oversized houses (McMansions), not too small blocks.

maryclare 8:56 pm 30 Nov 17

I’m interested Paul in your choice of photos for this article, do you think this is an example of cramming?

Heavs 12:23 pm 29 Nov 17

“Not that most would not support flexibility and changes where appropriate …”

FIND – ‘where appropriate’
REPLACE – ‘as long as it’s not near me’

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site