YWCA Canberra lodges plans for women’s housing project in Ainslie

Ian Bushnell 23 November 2020 30
YWCA Canberra

An artist’s impression of the supportive housing project. Images: AMC Architecture.

YWCA Canberra has lodged a development application for its contentious single-storey, 10-unit supportive housing project in Ainslie that has faced opposition from nearby residents.

Some Rutherford Crescent residents have argued the Community Facility-zoned 1,828 square metre site next to Bill Pye Park, which YWCA Canberra has long owned, is not suitable for such a development, threatened the park and would create traffic problems.

They also say community consultation has been inadequate.

But YWCA Canberra has rejected the arguments and says some residents have made spurious claims about the project, including that the community would lose use of Bill Pye Park.

The project vision is to provide housing for older and younger women, some with children, who may have experienced domestic violence, and the site is conveniently located near public transport, local shops and the public park and playground.

READ MORE: As social housing projects roll out, beware an attack of the NIMBYs

YWCA Canberra says the project offers a significant public benefit and will sit comfortably in the residential context, offering a place of safety and refuge.

The DA shows that the project is confined to the site – currently occupied by three buildings that have been used for child care, youth services, and more recently a base for outreach community activities.

It will not encroach on the park and the site itself will be screened by trees.

The project consists of eight studio-size dwellings and two two-bedroom units, all accessible and adaptable, 10 car parking spaces and landscaping.

The dwellings have been designed and sited to maximise sunshine and allow cross ventilation.

The proposal was scaled back from a 16-unit development, some double-storey, after consultation with residents.

All structures on the site, except for a timber and pitched metal roof shed, will be demolished and current driveways and pedestrian paths will also need to be removed.

Out of 18 trees on the site, 15 are slated to go, six of which are regulated but the project will also include extensive landscaping and new plantings of trees.

The site will be accessed via a new three-metre wide driveway from Rutherford Crescent. Seven of the 10 parking spaces will be carports, two will be for people with a disability and there will also be three offsite spaces, which the traffic reports says meets requirements.

READ ALSO: Speed limits up for review as government moves to make roads safer

The DA says the rest of the site is dedicated to private open spaces, communal open spaces, including a barbecue area and communal garden, and pedestrian paths.

The traffic report says the daily trips to and from the site will increase from 14 to 60, with Rutherford Crescent currently generating 96 daily trips. The existing traffic only consists of 110 trips or 11 per cent of the allowable traffic generation (1000 trips) under the ACT Estate Development Code.

The proposed development will increase this to 156 trips or 15.6 per cent of the allowable street usage under the Code, and the report says this will have a negligible impact on the surrounding area.

The project is an initiative of the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund established last year but YWCA Canberra will be funding its construction and continue to own and manage the site.

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30 Responses to YWCA Canberra lodges plans for women’s housing project in Ainslie
saphael7 saphael7 1:19 pm 26 Nov 20

This had been happening for a while now. It isn’t about who lives there but about the dwindling parklands. It could be your local green space next. Put people in public housing in housing areas not community parkland.

Clare O'Rance Clare O'Rance 7:51 am 26 Nov 20

Great idea with so many women needing housing support. I wish YMCA all the best.

Ian Hubbard Ian Hubbard 5:47 pm 25 Nov 20

Remember the Ainslie bowling club. Great place to catch up with old friends for a beer and a bowl. Now residential. Community meeting places are disappearing. Have a look🤓

    Brent Hutch Brent Hutch 1:13 am 26 Nov 20

    Ian Hubbard places come, places go. I guess no one catches up with each other these days because the Bowlo went... Or perhaps people just migrate to a new location. If the Bowlo was making money, through the old friends spending money, it'd probably still be there.

    Ian Hubbard Ian Hubbard 7:36 am 26 Nov 20

    Good point Brent. Unfortunately the business model for community and sporting facilities is no longer viable. Like newspapers. The issue is are these facilities important for social health and well being. Should they be protected like schools despite the struggle to make money?

Heavs Heavs 9:04 am 25 Nov 20

Shocked by the lack of sock-puppet activity on this one.

Ian Hubbard Ian Hubbard 7:58 am 25 Nov 20

Change is not scary but managing a community activities centre that brings the Nth Ainslie community together requires active management and is a challenge. The potential benefit in strengthening the neighbourhood is exciting. How do you get a Social Housing Innovation Fund Grant to demolish a community facility and build 10 units round a car park? Innovation?

Ian Hubbard Ian Hubbard 7:28 am 25 Nov 20

The point is Kylie that the lease purpose for this community facility site is an childcare centre and a community activity centre’. How can the Y not comply with their lease?? The Y does deliver other government funded services but gets most of their annual $15 million revenue from operating childcare in facilities owned by others. Hope you’re well. Cheers

seafix seafix 9:08 pm 24 Nov 20

This is a continuation of the YWCA’s rip-off the local community. Got the facilities cheap because they were going to provide a childcare centre and community activity centre. After a few years decided they didn’t want to deliver this service for the community on community facilities land. Became a landlord renting the site to another organisation. Now because of a change in planning rules the YWCA is going to exclude the community by demolishing the existing community facility and building a multi-unit social housing development on a small site.

Look at the site plan this is 10 units around a car park surrounded by a fence. 8 of the ten 50 sqm units lined up In a row. The fake renderings and realestate marketing was putting lipstick on a pig of last century’s congregate living model. Good for the YWCA bad for everybody else. Spend the money and build something decent on residential land. Give community facilities back to the community! Deliver a childcare centre and community activity centre as prescribed in your current lease.

Linda Moore Linda Moore 7:53 pm 24 Nov 20

Once community land is developed for housing it will never be reversed!!!

Think about the Downer Primary School site, Northbourne Oval site in Braddon.

Bad long term outcomes for inner north Canberra.

Dee Collins Dee Collins 6:51 pm 24 Nov 20

Great win for more social housing!

    Ian Hubbard Ian Hubbard 9:40 pm 24 Nov 20

    Dinora Collins Should build it on residential land. Why is it social housing or community facility? Should be a pre-school for Nth Ainslie parents. I thought the Y was a childcare provider and that’s what the current lease requires.

    Kylie Beer Kylie Beer 10:07 pm 24 Nov 20

    Ian Hubbard Ian, I know you know that the YWCA does a lot more than childcare. The current buildings on the site haven’t been used as preschool for as long as I can remember. I worked there as a youth worker in the 90s.

ainsliemum ainsliemum 1:51 pm 24 Nov 20

For those interested in more facts and information, please head to the Ainslie Community Association (ACA) website: http://www.ainsliecommunityassociation.com [ainslie community association DOT com].

    mtgav mtgav 5:18 pm 24 Nov 20

    Ainslie (and this area in particular) has among the highest rates of supportive housing. It also has one of the largest stocks (over 400) of public houses which should be better utilised to support this very important issue.
    This proposal goes against the Territory Plan. It creates medium to high density housing at the edge of a park rather than dispersing (salt and pepper) supportive housing through neighbourhood. YWCA have not upheld the terms of their lease. They neglected the site (which is why they could claim it was ‘under utilised’) and they have not properly consulted the community. They are exploiting a legal loophole which transforms community zoned land into residential. This proposal will remove local heritage and most of the trees on the site.
    This is not my back yard; but it is all of our heritage.

Rob Parker Rob Parker 7:35 am 24 Nov 20

Why would this be contentious?

    Travissi Gilbert Travissi Gilbert 6:42 pm 24 Nov 20

    Rob Parker coz there is no crime or traffic in Ainslie now but when these 10 units are completed it will be a magnet for cars and crims. I mean we're all for supportive housing, just not in suburbs starting with the letter 'A'...

    Rob Parker Rob Parker 7:47 pm 24 Nov 20

    Travissi Gilbert Thats very sad Bud. The old NIMBY hey.

    Travissi Gilbert Travissi Gilbert 7:53 pm 24 Nov 20

    Rob Parker I live 2 streets away and fully support the development- but we receive stuff in our letterbox from opponents citing, among other things, traffic congestion, not 'keeping with the character of the suburb', bringing criminal elements, noise, density (lol - 10 units).

    The opponents could just be honest and say they don't want low-income tenants in their 'hood!

    Rob Parker Rob Parker 8:01 pm 24 Nov 20

    Travissi Gilbert They could but they wont. Snobby NIMBY's

    Ian Hubbard Ian Hubbard 9:35 pm 24 Nov 20

    Rob Parker Get some facts. Already 30% social housing this takes it to 50% in the street. The issue is ripping off community facilities. There’s a salt & pepper policy for good reason.

    Joan James Joan James 9:46 pm 24 Nov 20

    Rob Parker my thoughts too!

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 6:19 am 25 Nov 20

    William Coats I think you might find the local residents are more likely liberal voters.

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 6:20 am 25 Nov 20

    Ian Hubbard what community facilities are being ripped off?

    Ian Hubbard Ian Hubbard 7:33 am 25 Nov 20

    Rob Parker Chris Ellis the sign out the front says YWCA Community House the community haven’t been allowed in the House for 15 years. Lease requires the Y to provide childcare centre and community activity centre. What happened? Rented it to another organisation. Don’t let them manage the Dickson Pool! 🤓

    Ian Hubbard Ian Hubbard 7:36 am 25 Nov 20

    Chris Ellis Get the facts. If you look at the electoral commission numbers and result more likely to have voted Green or Labor. Cheap sledge!

Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 12:27 am 24 Nov 20

Great idea and much needed.

Sue Sutton Sue Sutton 11:06 pm 23 Nov 20

All the way with the YWCA 👍🏼

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 5:01 pm 23 Nov 20


Bryce Roney Bryce Roney 10:12 am 23 Nov 20

Sounds like a great project!

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