Category Archives: Canberra

Dickson parklands under threat–again

Mike Hettinger and the so called LDA–Tradies win win

2e017fcbafd476366e387f9bba210a97The revelation by the Canberra Times of a land swap between the Land Development Agency and the CFMEU-linked Dickson Tradies Club opens the way for more dodgy deals that will harm the community.

Canberra Community Voters Candidate Mike Hettinger noted, “The land swap itself isn’t necessarily the problem. It’s what it enables the LDA and the Tradies to do in the future that should really concern us.”

Continue reading Dickson parklands under threat–again

Googong or Canberra?

googong-p1210008

With the debate in Canberra about housing affordability, the ACT Liberals have been using a particular line in their election statements to criticise the current government’s Land Development Agency (LDA) and its handling of land prices.

Continue reading Googong or Canberra?

The Auditor-General, the Chief Minister and pesky chooks

Barr-HomeTo-Roost-P1210224

There were moments during the ‘meet the candidates’ forum in Lyneham a fortnight ago when it seemed that something was not right with the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr.

Continue reading The Auditor-General, the Chief Minister and pesky chooks

Blame the Griffins – Really?

Meeting-P1190716

When about 250 citizens venture out on a cold night to hear about plans for the foreshores of West Basin one would expect that they would be taken seriously.

Continue reading Blame the Griffins – Really?

Dickson DA goes to ACAT appeal

dickson-shops2

 Following the disappointing actions by the ACT Government to approve what remains a very questionable development application for a major mixed use development on the flagship shopping centre site in Dickson, appeals are being jointly lodged by the landlord of the Woolworths supermarket plus key local community associations.

Continue reading Dickson DA goes to ACAT appeal

Dickson Parklands – Land Grab

Article Lead - wide998573026gija9aimage.related.articleLeadwide.729x410.giivvm.png1437707368480.jpg-620x349The North Canberra Community Council (NCCC) has expressed both surprise and disappointment at yesterday’s shock announcement by the ACT Government proposing residential development in Dickson between the Dickson Pool and Dickson Playing Fields. It is known formally as Dickson Section 72 and informally as Dickson Parklands. click here for the full media release from the community council.

Dickson Planning Consultation Dilemmas

Development dilemmas: part three
The future of the Dickson Precinct and beyond

P1080437

This is the third of several posts on planning and development issues for Dickson in Canberra. Residential groups around the country share similar frustrations, dilemmas and challenges in dealing with planning and development bureaucracies.

Continue reading Dickson Planning Consultation Dilemmas

Putting a Value on Community Spaces

Comment: Locals often do not get it right

P1070342In my home suburb of Dickson in Canberra, the push is on to allow some commercial residential development on what has always been designated as a community space. The site is now known as the Dickson Parklands.

I have written about this in previous blogs – click here.

Continue reading Putting a Value on Community Spaces

National Capital Authority

The NCA is no longer relevant

An opportunity has presented itself with the Commonwealth Government’s announcement to allow the National Capital Authority (NCA) to open up the Parliamentary Triangle to more commercial opportunities. (CT 12 July, Page 1, Shopping in the triangle? It’s a private matter)

I have no problem at all with more commercial activity happening within the Parliamentary Triangle. The question is just how to intelligently implement such a change to this landscape that presently serves as a national monument.

Continue reading National Capital Authority

Canberra Urbanity and Development

Recent Canberra Government development announcements

16RegentsCanal-1100774

In recent weeks and months there have been several significant development proposals announced by the territory (ACT) government in Canberra. If all the government’s ambitions come to fruition then residents about to witness some very serious alterations and additions to the make-up of several parts of the inner city urban fabric.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity and Development

Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin

Comment: A memorial for Walter and Marion

Christopher-VernonSeveral months back there was an article by Christopher Vernon, of the University of Western Australia, putting forward the background and argument for a permanent memorial in Canberra for Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. Click here for that article.

There are various things scattered around Canberra that tell their story.

Continue reading Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin

University Urbanity

Review: Campus Design
A review of new architecture and spaces within the ANU (Australian National University) Part One

P1050229

Across Australia there are stand out examples of campus design amongst many of our universities. In more recent years I have had reason to visit campuses in all the states and back here in Canberra and have been constantly impressed with some of the architectural and landscape work.  In most cases I have been positively impressed with the work and in others I have been taken aback.

Continue reading University Urbanity

New Acton Precinct, Canberra

Review: Urbanity
New Acton Precinct, Canberra

NA-P1040192

There was much ado about this whole precinct development when it was being built and this continues through to today. Having visited the site a few times now, to meander, to eat, to meet for coffee and the occasional business, I have to say that it is a very mixed result. It is worth a visit on a busy day to see for yourself. But it does not match some of the rhetoric that has been put about – click here for an example of some project-porn spin*.

Continue reading New Acton Precinct, Canberra

Australian War Memorial Landscapes

Review: Landscapes at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra

These comments not are about the exhibitions of the War Memorial. These are comments about the building and recent additions.

AWM-P1040313

Many times the expression is used when an architect is talking about a building, about how their architecture fits into the landscape. In most cases this proves to be just false architectural spin. However there is one building here in Canberra that does sit beautifully with the landscape. That building is the Australian War Memorial in Canberra

Continue reading Australian War Memorial Landscapes

Breakfast in Canberra

Urbanity: Breakfast in Canberra

A list of places to have breakfast

Visits to  suburban cafes during 2014 for weekend breakfast/ brunch; we live inner north, so it will be those within easy range. Watch this space as the list grows! all reviews – click here

—————————————

Hudson’s of Dickson, Dickson Shops

There are three cafes in this location, with Hudson’s being in the middle. I have been to Hudson’s too many times to recall. It is Hudson’s in name only – in that the original owner moved on years ago and the present owners retained the name.

Continue reading Breakfast in Canberra

North Canberra Greenway

A brief concept proposal:
The North Canberra Greenway and Artwalk.

This is a proposal to enhance some present green infrastructure within inner north Canberra.

Drain-Walk-01

The North Canberra Greenway could be formed by linking and then enhancing the present green infrastructure elements throughout inner north Canberra.

Continue reading North Canberra Greenway

Canberra Urbanity – Fast Track Developments

Opinion: Proposals on fast track development precincts
Introducing democracy into ACT planning and development

crowd-P1020498Feathers have been quietly ruffled locally as the ACT Government (local government for Canberra) has announced it is to introduce a new proposal that would see identified precincts developed using a fast-track development process. This change to planning has been reported on in the Canberra Times and should be read before reading my comments that follow below – click here

What follows was edited down as  a ‘letter to the editor’ on this subject.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity – Fast Track Developments

Breakfast in Canberra

Urbanity: Breakfast in Canberra
A list of places to have breakfast

Visits to  suburban cafes during 2014 for weekend breakfast/ brunch; we live inner north, so it will be those within easy range. Watch this space as the list grows! all reviews – click here

—————————————
Pork Barrel, Near Old Parliament House

Arrived about 12.15 and the sun was shining. The place was quietly busy with plenty of options for seating inside or outside under the trees.

PorkBarrel-P1030603

Continue reading Breakfast in Canberra

neglected trees

Opinion: Trees

and yes, we should be looking after them.

During times of heat, drought, and extreme temperatures, it really demonstrates how the planning of Canberra, ‘the garden city’, was based on serious misunderstandings.

click on any photograph to enlarge it

Woden-P1030512

Continue reading neglected trees

Lawns of Kingston

Opinion: the Lawns of Kingston return

Beware politicians and designers: We love our Lawns

Kingston-GrnSq-P1010961

In a previous post I had spoken of Australia’s love of the lawn. (click here)

In particular I mentioned a local battle over Green Square at the Kingston Shops in Canberra whereby the local government had replaced a green square of lawn with a designed space,  complete with brick walls and seating and drought friendly, low maintenance plants.

Continue reading Lawns of Kingston

Cotter Dam Artwork

Review: Public Art

A review of the artwork at the Cotter Dam site.

Cotter-P1030042

There is just one lone piece of art at the new Cotter Dam site.  I am not sure of its placement on the fairly bare site in front of the very dominating new dam wall. Seems no creative landscape design was employed to enhance its placement.

Continue reading Cotter Dam Artwork

Cotter Dam

Review: The Cotter Dam Site

cotterP1030051

Late in 2013, there was much ado in Canberra about the completion of the new Cotter Dam. The new wall is a replacement and enlargement of the previous dam on the Cotter River. It was built as a result of the ten-year drought and the need for water security for Canberra.

The surrounding recreational areas had been devastated in the 2003 bush fires and the whole area has been rejuvenated to once again be a reaction area for locals and visitors on the outskirts of the capital.

Continue reading Cotter Dam

Angel of the North

Review: Visual Art
Angel of the North at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Angel-P1030341

It was just this week that I managed to get myself down the wonderful National Gallery of Australia’s sculpture garden to have a look at the Angel of the North. The piece has been on location for several years. This was the fist time I have seen this piece. Of course, this is the life-size marquette of the original Angel of the North, being about one tenth the size of the original.

Continue reading Angel of the North

Urban Heat

Opinion: Urban Trees and Heat
A case study of neglect and willful blindness?

Ainslie-P1010108

There was a routine piece in the Canberra Times about the current heat wave, temperature around and above 40 Degrees Celsius, and backyard trees or in some case about the lack of them. The article pointed to the now well established reality, that during such times those residential properties that lacked shade were suffering higher temperatures.

Continue reading Urban Heat

Tale of two Arboretums, The National Arboretum, Canberra

Tale of two Arboretums
The National Arboretum, Canberra

Nat-Arb-P1030257

Once the devastating 2003 Canberra fires were over, the Canberra landscapes to the west of the Lake Burley Griffin were left denuded of the previous forest. The subsequent international design competition delivered a much celebrated design for a National Arboretum.

Continue reading Tale of two Arboretums, The National Arboretum, Canberra

Tale of two Arboretums, Lindsay Prior

Review: A Memorial  Arboretum

Lindsay Prior Arboretum, Canberra

prior-P1030209

If you have not already read it elsewhere on this blog, I love trees. Our home is now immersed in shrubbery. Ever morning we awake to sounds of all the bird life that enjoy our the biodiversity in the garden in our street. The front has been planted and designed in such a way that when we sit on the front verandah and look in a northerly direction, all we see are trees and shrubs. There homes and cars in that direction, but they a blocked out so that it looks as though we look out on a private parkland. But despite our private parkland and that a wetland is five minutes away, we do venture out occasionally to see what others are doing with trees. Occasionally!

Continue reading Tale of two Arboretums, Lindsay Prior

Dogs

Opinion: Domestic dogs and their owners

It was while staying with friends on holidays that I took the opportunity to occasionally take their dog for its evening walk. The dog is a very friendly and well-behaved golden retriever. While walking this happy animal I was reminded of the feelings I have sometimes when approaching a person walking a dog. It happened a couple of times that I could see people move out-of-the-way as I approached with the dog.

Continue reading Dogs

Public Art

Review: Public Art

Sculpture of Ben Chifley and John Curtin, Canberra

chifley-curtin02

I have driven passed this sculptural piece, by Peter Corlett, many many times. The pair of sculptures look very natural on the corner to the extent that I dare say the casual observer and busy drivers may pass by and miss that they are bronze figures. There’s no plinth. They have been attached directly onto the footpath.

Continue reading Public Art

Canberra Urbanity

Opinion: Northbourne Avenue re-development

I quote from the Canberra Times 10 December 2013: “Strong commercial demand is expected for ACT government-owned properties along Northbourne Avenue that will be sold for redevelopment.”

northbourneavenuebraddon

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

Canberra Urbanity: Marsden Street

An Anniversary

About two years ago, during 2010 – 2011, this quiet residential area in the inner north of Canberra was the battle ground over a very silly proposed redevelopment of two blocks of land.

street-April2013-1

Once the residents had been through the tribunal process, and before the decisions were handed down, the complex chain of events was documented. It is called Do Onto Others.

It is a long read – click here.

Canberra Urbanity

Climate Change adaptation falters in the suburbs

climate-P1020350

Dealing with the complex issues of climate change adaptation should by now have become a priority and part of the everyday for any local government in their oversight of design, planning, development and the re-development of our settlements.

Here in Canberra we have been the subject of a decade or two of pronouncements from newly appointed chief planners on how they are to oversee development that is sustainable and .. lots of other spin that always sounds so sensible!

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

Urbanity – Bicycle

Opinion Piece: cycling on our roads.

First an admission.  I used  to be a reasonably keen urban cyclist . However some time back, I had two serious near misses whereby I was run off the road by local buses. After the last bruising,  the bike sat in garage till one day I sold it on. Whenever I can , I now walk instead. But I do miss the experience of cycling through neighbourhoods.

Today there was a very good summary in the Guardian on the situation and changes to urban cycling across many cities internationally. Click on the image below.

There’s currently a crazy debate here in Canberra about cyclists and vehicles and pedestrians. Crazy because the debate has been dominated by no so cool people who are not accepting of any other point of view. So I wonder what the problem is?

Continue reading Urbanity – Bicycle

Canberra Urbanity: Jack Ross Park

Review: Landscape Architecture/Parks

Jack Ross Park, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

Kngstn-Park-P1020140

This is a first venture into the new park within the slowly evolving foreshore development at Kingston , Canberra. First impressions are of lots of detail, very contemporary and any park besides the lake is to be a welcomed addition to local amenities.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity: Jack Ross Park

Art in the Street

Review: Art in the front yard

Canberra 16-17 November 2013

Take a quiet little street in Downer. Local artist Stephen Harrison is a resident. Stephen asks the neighbours if he can take over the street and their front yards for the weekend. They say yes. Stephen then brings in the work of  about three dozen artists. And so a fun weekend arrived……

Continue reading Art in the Street