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Urban opportunities being squandered in Dickson

By Paul Costigan - 21 January 2015 12

dickson-shops3

Just days before Christmas last year, Dickson residents noticed that a development application with significant ramifications for the Dickson precinct was available online – with a month to comment. The development application involves 91 documents with no easy access to the most relevant information.

Most residents were on holidays and many are on the authority’s email list, but those on the lists were not notified. Given the seriousness of this development for Dickson, ACTPLA saw no problem with sneaking the development application online just before Christmas.

The ACT Government says it is committed to dealing with climate change, yet this new development ignores so many climate change issues. There should be solar panels across every available roof space and integrated water saving features built into the site. Residents will rely on high-energy usage to cool and heat their units. This development does nothing to enhance the green infrastructure in the precinct and will increase the heat island effect.

Despite the glossed up image presented with the plans (see above), the proposed monster metal and glass box has no outstanding architectural features. The Dickson shopping centre presently has a very attractive ambience with effective use of open spaces and trees. The new development is set to have a negative impact on most of the local small shops.

The original policy on supermarkets was about providing alternatives to the dominance of the major supermarkets. However this new building fails to provide such choices. The ACT Chief Minister and his government have demonstrated clearly that they wish to maintain the dominance of the big supermarkets.

There are many developments being canvassed for the Dickson precinct. The list includes:

Section 72: The Dickson parklands: Given all the new residential developments across the precinct, residents have expressed passionately that they would like this site for enhanced parklands and community cultural use. Residents attending meetings found the real agenda is to allow the unions, who own the leases on the central buildings, to have their leases converted for high-rise residential developments.

The Dickson drain: There have been requests for the Dickson drain alongside the parklands and shops to be converted to a linear parkland. Much talk but no action yet.

Commercial centre:  There are numerous residential developments planned for the northern and southern ends of the commercial centre.

Northbourne Avenue: This is to be developed with more residential and commercial high-rise buildings.

Residential suburbs: There is a constant flow of development applications for the surrounding suburbs with many contested because of inappropriate design and lack of attention to the ambience of the suburbs. There has been a complete lack of requirement for these development applications to address environmental and climate change issues (not just Green Wash).

The Chief Minister and his government have not responded positively to requests that development across the Dickson area should be in the context of a comprehensive Dickson precinct plan. Instead all this ad-hoc planning and development increases the lack of the confidence that residents have in ACTPLA and other development agencies.

Residents would welcome a new style of planning and development agency based on community engagement rather than one that has the perception of being the puppet of the development lobby.

This key Dickson site should contain a significant architecturally designed building, should address climate change, encourage alternative uses of energy, and should enhance the green infrastructure of the precinct. The big box monster as proposed does not deliver on these aspirations. In years to come people will wonder how the ACT Government squandered this golden urban design opportunity.

Given all the quagmire of bureaucracy surrounding such developments around Dickson, it was not feasible to have expected residents to have meaningfully contributed to this latest proposal for Dickson. There must be a better way for the ACT Government to handle planning and development. We remain optimistic!

What’s Your opinion?


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12 Responses to
Urban opportunities being squandered in Dickson
1
Martlark 10:52 am
22 Jan 15
#

Please appoint an architect, create an outstanding design, raise money, find a developer, sell the building, and get approval. I’d love to see what you can do!

2
Masquara 7:51 pm
22 Jan 15
#

The key is of course the word “union”.

Joy: “OK Unions here’s our solution. Sorry about having to stop the fifty dollar slotholes in your pokies (pesky voters and bloody Shane Rattenbury exercising his powers). In exchange for that, we’ll let you snot residents’ rights all around your tradies club there.”

3
rosscoact 8:59 pm
22 Jan 15
#

Given it closes on 27 January and there is a Christmas cutoff for notification I’m thinking it was more likely six or seven weeks rather than a month. Exaggeration doesn’t work for your cause.

Commercial issues are irrelevant, this is a planning issue so don’t waste your time yelling at the moon about supermarket competition. Look at the drawings, go into their offices if the size of the DA documents are confusing and make comments based around planning issues.

At the same time stir up enough people to make objections saying that there wasn’t enough time to comment. Contact the inner north community council and make the same point and ask them to seek to extend. ACTPLA or whatever they are called now don’t care one way or the other, they’ll extend the cutoff date if enough people ask. It’s easy to extend and much better than being accused of shutting down objections.

4
miz 7:46 am
23 Jan 15
#

Good luck. This seems to be on par with most ACT Government development processes – i.e., a mess, and not conducive or truly committed to genuine environmental positivity. One gets the feeling that they are hoping most will be too time poor to do anything and will be put off by the processes involved, so they can effectively do what they planned all along. What a pity and what wasted opportunities.

I am frequently saddened by the destruction of established shade trees in new developments and lack of understanding of how planting deciduous shade trees (not gums) would easily and cheaply contribute to temperature moderation and attractiveness. You only have to look at the design of blocks in Gungahlin and planning permissions that leave no room for trees to see this.

In fact they are so foolish and ignorant about this that they are once again intending to plant gum trees along Northbourne for the planned light rail, presumably in the belief that native is best, when in actual fact suitable deciduous exotics would be far more beneficial and cooling for passengers. Obviously whoever proposed that knows nothing about trees/horticulture and has not obtained advice from anyone. If they had, they would know that eucalypts shed significant quantities of bark and leaves all year round (which is likely to be a problem for the track), and will neither provide the shade we need in summer or the sun we need in winter.

5
Heavs 10:39 am
23 Jan 15
#

miz said :


In fact they are so foolish and ignorant about this that they are once again intending to plant gum trees along Northbourne for the planned light rail, presumably in the belief that native is best, when in actual fact suitable deciduous exotics would be far more beneficial and cooling for passengers. Obviously whoever proposed that knows nothing about trees/horticulture and has not obtained advice from anyone. If they had, they would know that eucalypts shed significant quantities of bark and leaves all year round (which is likely to be a problem for the track), and will neither provide the shade we need in summer or the sun we need in winter.

Totally agree. There is no way that an almost billion dollar project would have used horticultural consultants to help them land on the best solution. I heard they just went for christmas drinks up at the Old Canberra Inn and got chatting to Stumpy Dave who told them that scribbly gums were the best option and what do you know, early January that’s what is on the plans. Bit suss if you ask me.

6
Mysteryman 11:05 am
23 Jan 15
#

Heavs said :

miz said :


In fact they are so foolish and ignorant about this that they are once again intending to plant gum trees along Northbourne for the planned light rail, presumably in the belief that native is best, when in actual fact suitable deciduous exotics would be far more beneficial and cooling for passengers. Obviously whoever proposed that knows nothing about trees/horticulture and has not obtained advice from anyone. If they had, they would know that eucalypts shed significant quantities of bark and leaves all year round (which is likely to be a problem for the track), and will neither provide the shade we need in summer or the sun we need in winter.

Totally agree. There is no way that an almost billion dollar project would have used horticultural consultants to help them land on the best solution. I heard they just went for christmas drinks up at the Old Canberra Inn and got chatting to Stumpy Dave who told them that scribbly gums were the best option and what do you know, early January that’s what is on the plans. Bit suss if you ask me.

If you think that the cost of a project in the ACT is a reflection of the time, planning and forethought that’s gone into it, you’re sadly mistaken.

7
Heavs 11:37 am
23 Jan 15
#

Mysteryman said :

Heavs said :

miz said :


In fact they are so foolish and ignorant about this that they are once again intending to plant gum trees along Northbourne for the planned light rail, presumably in the belief that native is best, when in actual fact suitable deciduous exotics would be far more beneficial and cooling for passengers. Obviously whoever proposed that knows nothing about trees/horticulture and has not obtained advice from anyone. If they had, they would know that eucalypts shed significant quantities of bark and leaves all year round (which is likely to be a problem for the track), and will neither provide the shade we need in summer or the sun we need in winter.

Totally agree. There is no way that an almost billion dollar project would have used horticultural consultants to help them land on the best solution. I heard they just went for christmas drinks up at the Old Canberra Inn and got chatting to Stumpy Dave who told them that scribbly gums were the best option and what do you know, early January that’s what is on the plans. Bit suss if you ask me.

If you think that the cost of a project in the ACT is a reflection of the time, planning and forethought that’s gone into it, you’re sadly mistaken.

No, I’m saying that the reason for costs of ACT projects is in large part because of the amount spent on consultants that are brought on board. No way a decision like this is made by Shelly from accounts.

8
miz 10:25 am
24 Jan 15
#

The problem, as exemplified by the ignorant tram tree choice, is that before even getting consultants in, they have already removed the most suitable (non-native deciduous) trees from possible selection because, in their ignorance, they ‘think they know’ what is best (natives). This shows a certain attitude – a know-it-all attitude held by people who don’t know what they don’t know yet think they do.
Unfortunately this attitude permeates ACT developments and results in consultations that are already a tokenistic fait d-accompli and a complete waste of money before they even begin, just so they can say they have ‘consulted.’ It’s time the ACT Government was called on this.

9
Paul Costigan 1:28 pm
24 Jan 15
#

Allow me to take this debate back to the Dickson supermarket development.

Several people have spoken to me about how frustrating this whole things is given the how available the technologies are to make such a building sustainable. It’s all out there and tested; solar, water recycling, green roofs, and alternative energies, even allowing for fresh air to do the work on certain days.

Someone also mentioned all the energy, green roof, urban design, sustainably etc conferences and seminars all the planning authority staff regularly attend. The result of all this taxpayer paid training? Absolutely nothing. This new proposal is so bad that the taxpayers should be asking that the planning staff not be allocated any such funds for their conference junkets etc, as it has proved useless.

The ACTPLA executive staff regularly attends industry functions and award nights. One would question whether this is to be more aware of sustainability trends or to be convinced by the lobbyists not to implement any environmental policies that may hinder the developers short-term profits.

A final thought as expressed by a colleague, maybe this new building, if it goes ahead, should be named after the Chief Minister so that we all remember who signed off on it. The Barr. Sounds good to me!

10
rommeldog56 10:25 am
25 Jan 15
#

Paul Costigan said :

Allow me to take this debate back to the Dickson supermarket development.

Several people have spoken to me about how frustrating this whole things is given the how available the technologies are to make such a building sustainable. It’s all out there and tested; solar, water recycling, green roofs, and alternative energies, even allowing for fresh air to do the work on certain days.

Someone also mentioned all the energy, green roof, urban design, sustainably etc conferences and seminars all the planning authority staff regularly attend. The result of all this taxpayer paid training? Absolutely nothing. This new proposal is so bad that the taxpayers should be asking that the planning staff not be allocated any such funds for their conference junkets etc, as it has proved useless.

The ACTPLA executive staff regularly attends industry functions and award nights. One would question whether this is to be more aware of sustainability trends or to be convinced by the lobbyists not to implement any environmental policies that may hinder the developers short-term profits.

A final thought as expressed by a colleague, maybe this new building, if it goes ahead, should be named after the Chief Minister so that we all remember who signed off on it. The Barr. Sounds good to me!

I suspect though that in the mad rush to “make Canberra grow up” through via the Gunners-Civic Tram and the infill/development that it will cause along the line (especially in Dickson), that areas such as Dickson will go through a progressive transformation. You have absolutely no hope of retaining that site for ” enhanced parklands and community cultural use” instead – the city apparently need that site and others, including green/open spaces, in order to “grow up”.

The development of that site may have eventually happened anyway because of natural growth, but there is no doubt in my mind that development applications for redevelopment all along the Tram Line will be rammed through by the ACT Government leading to insufficient consideration of green issues and the look of the new high rise residential buildings – most of which I personally think are pig ugly. Other

11
dungfungus 11:13 am
25 Jan 15
#

rommeldog56 said :

Paul Costigan said :

Allow me to take this debate back to the Dickson supermarket development.

Several people have spoken to me about how frustrating this whole things is given the how available the technologies are to make such a building sustainable. It’s all out there and tested; solar, water recycling, green roofs, and alternative energies, even allowing for fresh air to do the work on certain days.

Someone also mentioned all the energy, green roof, urban design, sustainably etc conferences and seminars all the planning authority staff regularly attend. The result of all this taxpayer paid training? Absolutely nothing. This new proposal is so bad that the taxpayers should be asking that the planning staff not be allocated any such funds for their conference junkets etc, as it has proved useless.

The ACTPLA executive staff regularly attends industry functions and award nights. One would question whether this is to be more aware of sustainability trends or to be convinced by the lobbyists not to implement any environmental policies that may hinder the developers short-term profits.

A final thought as expressed by a colleague, maybe this new building, if it goes ahead, should be named after the Chief Minister so that we all remember who signed off on it. The Barr. Sounds good to me!

I suspect though that in the mad rush to “make Canberra grow up” through via the Gunners-Civic Tram and the infill/development that it will cause along the line (especially in Dickson), that areas such as Dickson will go through a progressive transformation. You have absolutely no hope of retaining that site for ” enhanced parklands and community cultural use” instead – the city apparently need that site and others, including green/open spaces, in order to “grow up”.

The development of that site may have eventually happened anyway because of natural growth, but there is no doubt in my mind that development applications for redevelopment all along the Tram Line will be rammed through by the ACT Government leading to insufficient consideration of green issues and the look of the new high rise residential buildings – most of which I personally think are pig ugly. Other

How long before Haig Park disappears?

12
Kalliste 6:22 pm
25 Jan 15
#

“The Dickson shopping centre presently has a very attractive ambience with effective use of open spaces and trees. The new development is set to have a negative impact on most of the local small shops.”

Where exactly is the attractive ambience in Dickson? I never go to the Dickson shops and think “wow this should all stay just as it is! Everything is so attractively ambient”. Dickson needs a major overhaul and maybe this is the beginning. Based on the picture above I can’t work out whether that is the Woolworths carpark site or the Cape st site or the corner of antill and Challis.. I’m assuming Woolworths carpark though. If it is Antill/Challis I see no issue with it. It might improve that area.. although they’d need to live across the road from the dodgy TAB.

While this building might not be the best thing for the area there really does need to be some new life in the area

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