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West Tuggeranong expansion ill-advised – for now

By John Hargreaves - 4 May 2015 33

tuggeranong

Senator Zed Seselja’s proposal to change the planning responsibilities of the National Capital Authority and to promote building houses in West Tuggeranong has good bits and bad bits.

It sounds rather similar to what was espoused by the Carnell/Humphries Liberal government in 1997/98. Here we go again.

The good bit is that Seselja proposes that we have greater sovereignty over our land than has previously been the case. This can only be a good thing – the NCA should stick to those areas of significance and leave the rest of the land to the people who live here.

I remember after the bushfires of 2003, the settlements of Pierce’s Creek and Uriarra were decimated and all but obliterated. But up until then, those settlements were hardly sustainable communities. The NCA controlled Pierce’s Creek and the area around Uriarra.

Pop out there now and you will see a thriving community at Uriarra with more houses than before the fire. The ACT government changed the rules to allow the resurrection of Uriarra into a sustainable community, but the NCA refused to allow a greater number of buildings in Pierce’s Creek than was there before the fires.

The conventional wisdom at the time was that a community of at least 30 houses was required before a community could be sustainable in the long term. This consigned Pierce’s Creek to ghost town status and it is still the case. Those wanting a rural setting for their lifestyles and kids have to go elsewhere. Short sighted! This is one example of why the NCA should butt out.

So all power to Seselja in shrinking the influence of the NCA in areas unrelated to national significance – like the 200-metre buffer zones along all major thoroughfares. Nonsensical.

But now for the bad bit.

In 1997/98, it was proposed that the area west of the Murrumbidgee be opened up for housing development. There are vast tracts of land ideal for the construction of a number of new suburbs. It’s a good idea at face value, however, several environmental and economic concerns must be addressed first.

Firstly the environmental reasons. The western side of the Tuggeranong town centre borders the Murrumbidgee River corridor. This is a preserved space for a reason. The ecology is sensitive and requires appropriate management. The river is pristine in most parts, the bushland bordering the river is home to many an endangered species of flora and fauna and the river is part of our water catchment system. Keen eyes will catch platypus playing in the river at times, birds abound and reptiles scurry.

So let’s build a bridge across it to take vehicular traffic. Let’s build thousands of homes and drain the muck from building sites and completed homes into the river system. Try as I do, I can’t see this being avoided.

Animal and bird species will leave this corridor if they are surrounded by housing developments and the corridor will die. This is my fear for the Molonglo River when those suburbs of the Molonglo area are completed. The endangered species have been catered for in a certain sense by the limiting of the spread of suburbs but I’ll bet the little eagle moves on.

I don’t know of anywhere in the world where a nature reserve preserved in its pristine condition splits two parts of a town successfully.

The economic argument was and is that Tuggeranong is already a set of dormitory suburbs. The Valley does not have a sustainable economic base to cater for an influx of 25,000 people. In 1996, the federal government took 7,000 jobs out of the Tuggeranong valley alley and gutted it. We have only just begun to recover and it’s happening again. The issue is the dependence on the federal public sector for jobs.

We don’t have the combination of private sector and public sector economic opportunity that Woden, Civic and Belco have. Any change in fortune there is drastic, as Kim Fischer pointed out in relation to the withdrawal of the 4,000 Immigration jobs from the Belco town centre. Here in Tuggeranong, it would not only be drastic – it would be life threatening.

Until there is a sustainable economic environment, an alternative economic food chain to the public sector dependence, and employment opportunities for Tuggeranong to address the dormitory suburb nature of the Valley, any increase in housing is ill-advised.

I don’t want a return to 1997/98. It was proposed then and shelved. It should be shelved again. Groundhog Day!

Does Tuggeranong need more housing?

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33 Responses to
West Tuggeranong expansion ill-advised – for now
miz 12:49 pm 05 May 15

I live in and love Tuggers, and one day hope to move to a smaller, new house (not a unit or medium density – free standing for privacy and gardening). I therefore hope west tuggers will exist soon, as all my family are in Tuggers.

dungfungus 11:15 am 05 May 15

MERC600 said :

I was interested in one thing I read about the NCA, and that is they have control over ‘approaches’ to the City. Would this include Northbourne Avenue? Could they spoil the ACT Assembly by vetoing the ripping up of the Avenue and whacking a tram line in it ? or 2 tram lines.. whatever the hell it is.

They also have control over the area in front of (old) Parliament House but they ignore the mess that is there.
Still, that is less ugly than a tram track and its Neanderthal wire-scape.

dungfungus 8:12 pm 04 May 15

Animal and bird species will leave this corridor if they are surrounded by housing developments and the corridor will die.

Please give links to support this as where I live on the slopes of Mt. Wanniassa native birds and animals are thriving.

MERC600 6:15 pm 04 May 15

I was interested in one thing I read about the NCA, and that is they have control over ‘approaches’ to the City. Would this include Northbourne Avenue? Could they spoil the ACT Assembly by vetoing the ripping up of the Avenue and whacking a tram line in it ? or 2 tram lines.. whatever the hell it is.

arescarti42 5:26 pm 04 May 15

vintage123 said :

From what i am hearing in this planning space is a significant move towards suburb infill. Most developers are keenly anticipating significant rezoning in MR FLUFFY affected suburbs. How it was explained to me was that an average 900m2 block will be purchased and split into two 450m2 blocks of seperate title. As this begins to occur the precident is in favour of nearby neighbours to substanciate a case to replicate. The government wins because the land doubles in value irrespective of developing it, hence rates increase, if developed they win because they did not need to provide services and roads to the development.

I don’t believe this is the case. DV343 which covers the changes to zoning to allow the Mr. Fluffy blocks to be subdivided only applies to the Mr. Fluffy blocks themselves. I.e. just because the Mr. Fluffy block next door was subdivided doesn’t mean you can subdivide your block.

The majority of blocks in the ACT (~80%) are zoned RZ1, which under the current Territory Plan prohibits them from being subdivided.

vintage123 said :

What usually happens if someone on say an average 900m2 block with three bedda valued at 600k, splits it in two, sells the rear block to developers for 450k, they build a home for 400k, the back one is thenvalued at 900k, which makes the front one increase in value to 800k, the owners cash in and move to the coast pocketing a hell of alot of cash for bugger all bar being in the right spot at the right time.[/quote>

This makes no sense. Why on earth would someone pay $800k for a house on a 450m2 block in a suburb surrounded by similar houses on 900m2 blocks selling for $600k?

They wouldn’t.

Paul Costigan 5:13 pm 04 May 15

John

You have made two good points. I would go further about the NCA – it has passed its use-by-date and its influence should be phased out completely. A bureaucratic framework could be established within the ACT Government to ensure the national interests can be addressed where applicable such as within the Parliamentary Triangle. BUT having said that – experience has shown that residents have no trust or confidence in the ACT Government’s own planning authority. So that would need to be overhauled as part of the combining of the two authorities.

As for the expansion you mentioned – agree totally. It was proposed earlier and shelved. It should stay shelved. Urban intensification within the present boundaries is the way to go – BUT we come back to the ACT Government’s planning and development processes. There’s that problem again! We need a planning agency to work with and for the residents (voters) instead of one that works against them. We need to solve that issue and then we would not require any expansions as proposed by the senator.

vintage123 3:05 pm 04 May 15

From what i am hearing in this planning space is a significant move towards suburb infill. Most developers are keenly anticipating significant rezoning in MR FLUFFY affected suburbs. How it was explained to me was that an average 900m2 block will be purchased and split into two 450m2 blocks of seperate title. As this begins to occur the precident is in favour of nearby neighbours to substanciate a case to replicate. The government wins because the land doubles in value irrespective of developing it, hence rates increase, if developed they win because they did not need to provide services and roads to the development. What usually happens if someone on say an average 900m2 block with three bedda valued at 600k, splits it in two, sells the rear block to developers for 450k, they build a home for 400k, the back one is thenvalued at 900k, which makes the front one increase in value to 800k, the owners cash in and move to the coast pocketing a hell of alot of cash for bugger all bar being in the right spot at the right time.

chewy14 2:17 pm 04 May 15

rubaiyat said :

chewy14 said :

This applies to almost every new Greenfield development. Gungahlin, Molonglo, West Belconnen etc. They all have (or had) sensitive ecology that is now residential land or will be so.

Yeah. Stuff nature. Stuff wildlife. Stuff you!!

I WANT a MacMansion squeezed into a tiny block with all the blinds pulled down because I’m watching documentaries on disappearing wildlife on my big screen 3D TV.

How can I really get into wildlife and wide open spaces without my MacMansion crash landed right into them?

So you’d prefer larger blocks with lower density development and more open spaces in these greenfield areas? As well as much higher density on transport corridors and inner city land?

I think a lot of people would agree with you.

Although a lot of inner city dwellers, say in Yarralumla for instance, might disagree with the reduction in the quality of their amenities.

rubaiyat 1:24 pm 04 May 15

chewy14 said :

This applies to almost every new Greenfield development. Gungahlin, Molonglo, West Belconnen etc. They all have (or had) sensitive ecology that is now residential land or will be so.

Yeah. Stuff nature. Stuff wildlife. Stuff you!!

I WANT a MacMansion squeezed into a tiny block with all the blinds pulled down because I’m watching documentaries on disappearing wildlife on my big screen 3D TV.

How can I really get into wildlife and wide open spaces without my MacMansion crash landed right into them?

gazket 1:05 pm 04 May 15

Dramatise the situation enough ? If Suburbs were built it would only be along a few kilometers of the Murrumbidgee corridor with housing either side and well away from the river like it already is on the eastern side.

arescarti42 12:40 pm 04 May 15

I’m confused.

Doesn’t Tuggeranong already drain into the Murrumbidgee river?

Isn’t the Cotter Catchment where our water comes from? The Murrumbidgee is well outside that catchment.

vintage123 12:23 pm 04 May 15

Unfortunately it is going to be either urban sprawl or increased infill. Either accept that the distant view will be spoilt with housing developments or take it on the chin when your neighbours sub divide for dual occupancies…………i know which i would prefer, a distant view of urban sprawl. Nothing like jack hammers, heavy machinery and loads of tradesman all over your street for the next ten years as the houses double in density to get you into a jolly good morning mood.

chewy14 11:54 am 04 May 15

“Pop out there now and you will see a thriving community at Uriarra with more houses than before the fire. The ACT government changed the rules to allow the resurrection of Uriarra into a sustainable community”

John, perhaps you’d like to enlighten the rest of us as to the amount of subsidy the Uriarra settlement needed to be resurrected? How much per block was paid for by the ACT taxpayer/ratepayer to service and rebuild the area?

“Firstly the environmental reasons. The western side of the Tuggeranong town centre borders the Murrumbidgee River corridor. This is a preserved space for a reason. The ecology is sensitive and requires appropriate management. The river is pristine in most parts, the bushland bordering the river is home to many an endangered species of flora and fauna and the river is part of our water catchment system”

This applies to almost every new Greenfield development. Gungahlin, Molonglo, West Belconnen etc. They all have (or had) sensitive ecology that is now residential land or will be so. The whole of Tuggeranong is in our water catchment system also, should everyone else move out to protect the river?

As for the economic argument, LOL. Gungahlin, Molonglo and West Belconnen would all fail on this point also. Where’s the thriving economy to build new suburbs on the outer of any of these areas? At least Tuggeranong has lots of new room in the town centre to support new offices and workers if the critical mass of residents lived around the town centre area.
Gungahlin is relying on the light rail to provide the economic link for it’s residents into the city and the other areas will rely on road links into the city.

There may be arguments not to move into this development area but they haven’t been provided here.

This is simply a case of one political party having their favourite development and another political party picking another development area just to be different.

JesterNoir 11:23 am 04 May 15

The absolute best part about living in Tuggeranong is the view of those hills.
Coming home to watch the sun set across the Brindabellas, and the light play over the Bullen range.

Our water tastes better than anywhere else in the world because of the clean filtering through those mountains and hills.

I cannot comprehend why anyone who lives in Tuggeranong would want houses built over there. Unless they’re people who don’t live in Tuggeranong, in which case why are they making decisions like this for us anyway?

John Moulis 9:45 am 04 May 15

How will they provide access to West Tuggeranong? Anybody who has been to Kambah Pool will know that the ridge of mountains on the other side of the river forms a vertical cliff which would be impossible to build a bridge over. The area they want to develop is also very hilly and completely unsuited to development. Plans to develop the area in the 1970s were shelved for very valid reasons.

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