There’s a 1989 song by Pere Ubu, Flat, that has the following lyrics, “In the early part of the 20th Century, Deep inside the American wilderness, In the state of Kansas – 82,000 square miles of flat -There were two automobile cars. On July 5th 1904 they ran into each other”.
There’s one thing you can say about the present Chief Minister and his government, is that when it comes to dealing with residents over matters to do with urban development, they really know how to get people off-side right from the start with any and every proposal.
On a recent visit to Wollongong I observed the notices for and then read about the consultations for a major project: Wollongong – A City for People. Being a frequent visitor to this wonderful coastal city, I have some understanding of the urban issues facing that city’s local council.
Billboards have long been part of our culture and have been popping up here there and anywhere all over the place throughout the world. We seem to love to clutter up our landscape with anything that makes money.
Just when most locals probably thought that there have been more than enough discussions and surveys about the Canberra’s new light rail (or trams), the ACT Government has launched another consultation on the topic.
Tuggeranong town centre has received some mixed commentary in recent weeks. Ever since it was reported that Tuggeranong’s population is declining, locals have mounted their soap boxes. They’ve pointed out how it is much loved, that they are proud to live there, and made the call for local action.
I support the introduction of light rail networks across Canberra. We should not be having this debate in 2015. The first tracks should have been laid down in the late 1950s or at least by the mid 1960s.
There’s no doubt that the ACT Government has put an emphasis on communications and marketing when it comes to particular urban developments. This is very evident in the number of media statements in circulation.
As reported earlier, the Dickson Parklands (Section 72 Dickson) has been identified as critical to ensuring that Canberra’s growing inner north population can access arts, recreation, cultural and other community facilities.
It was during a recent North Canberra Community Council meeting that I realised I was hearing something very rare. The presenter was talking about fairly matter-of-fact issues to do with changes to local traffic lights and footpaths and it sounded as though she identified with the issues being dealt with.
The 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.
With Canberra struggling with its malls and the government agencies still following old models in what they encourage in the way of shopping centre developments – I am keeping track of stories about the demise of the great shopping malls – here’s a recent one – click here.
There is one thing that planning officers excel at: creating jobs for themselves. They do this by constantly reinventing planning and development processes that are so complicated that it takes a planning officer to be able to make sense of them.
While the many in the world address climate change, the present federal government in Australia continues to prop up Big Coal and anyone else who supports them. So what’s to be done about this? Continue reading Climate Change→
Looking to the next elections for resident friendly solutions
The Dickson residents continue to be disappointed with the ACT Government for allowing so many inappropriate development proposals to be taken seriously. The latest let-down is that local politicians look as if they are allowing a supermarket and residential proposal to progress even though the evidence indicates how wrong it is for this inner suburb.
It was well before self-government that a bureaucracy of experts delivered our inner Canberra urban landscapes. While there are many aspects of Canberra’s landscapes to be celebrated, there are questionable decisions by former planners and bureaucrats that we now have to deal with and correct.
The Property Council has issued another one of their occasional gems about planning and development here in Canberra. This one is titled: Transforming Canberra’s CBD. Sometimes you are not sure whether to laugh or cry when you read these documents.
The following is a slightly longer version of a post I uploaded to RiotACT. This post concentrated on the new development sites which will replace much of the greenery around the southern edge of this part of Yarralumla. I have left comments about the redevelopment of the former brickwork’s sit for another time.
Development dilemmas: part three
The future of the Dickson Precinct and beyond
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.
Development dilemmas: part two
The future of the Dickson Parklands
This is the second of several posts on planning and development issues effecting the local residents of Dickson in Canberra. The issues are not unique to Dickson. Residential groups around the country share similar frustrations, dilemmas and challenges in dealing with planning and development bureaucracies.
Development dilemmas: part one
Residents and the future of the Dickson Shops
This is the first of several posts on planning and development issues effecting local residents. The stories and issues are not unique to Dickson in Canberra. Many residential groups around the country share similar frustrations, dilemmas and challenges in dealing with planning and development bureaucracies.
Just before Christmas the ACT Planning Authority (ACTPLA) had uploaded for comment the Development Application for the Dickson supermarket development. The original response deadline was the 27th January.
It was just days before Christmas (2014) when local residents may have noticed that a development application with big ramifications for their precinct was now available online for comment – with a month in which to submit any comments.
Seven Myths About New Urbanism: Joel Kotkin, a fellow at Chapman University and an untiring defender of the suburbs, begins a recent column in the Washington Post with a valid question: “What is a city for?” He then proceeds to get that question completely wrong. But really, we should be thanking him. In his article, he neatly sums up many of the key myths emerging from the anti-urbanism set, making the job of debunking these myths a lot easier. Click here.
The Future of Dickson Section 72 as a Community and Cultural Site
The Dickson Community Cultural Parklands.
I wrote a piece yesterday about the disappointment expressed by residents about the manner in which the ACT Government is dealing with the local communities over the future of the community site officially known as Section 72 Dickson. Click here.
Dickson Section 72 – Community Consultations – 20th Oct 2014
On a cool Monday evening, more than one hundred local residents from surrounding suburbs gathered in the Dickson College hall in response to the invitation to attend a workshop staged by the ACT Government.
Locally the planning authority is notorious for carry out all forms of planning with no real interest in the present residents and no interest in the urban character. It is left to the developers to define how the suburbs of Canberra will look in the future.
LA wasn’t always a driver’s town. In the 1920s, it had the longest urban rail network in the world, and innovative infrastructure was built for cyclists as well. Despite this, Angelenos fell in love with the car early on and moved for more highway projects, making it the road-based city it is today.
I had previously posted about the City of Sydney’s announcements for three new works for Sydney’s public spaces. click here.
I have just read online the views of the Crikey urbanist, Alan Davies. There’s a lot more to say about this guy’s reviews and some of his strange views on urban issues . He has some serious problems! More on some of his comments later – watch this space. Continue reading Public Art City of Sydney 2→
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.
I have said it before and am happy to say so again, I live in a suburb in Canberra that has a fabulous amount of trees. The amount of trees in the public arena, streets and parks etc, combined with those throughout the residential properties delivers an ambience that is hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it.
I have the benefit of living in a suburb with plenty of tree cover. In fact the view outside onto the streets is almost as if the street is a parkland. The concept that any suburb should have an abundance of trees and shrubs and associated bio-diversity is simply so logical that one wonders why would anyone think otherwise.
The Queensland state government spent millions on the Roma Street Parklands. This parkland was set to add huge value to any apartments built around its edges. One would have thought that the City would have insisted on at least some higher levels of design for such buildings. Continue reading Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part Two→
I first visited these gardens and parklands back in 2004 and was very impressed then. This parkland project was a major commitment by the then state government to re-develop a former industrial site and to join it to the existing Albert Park to form one larger parkland, the Roma Street Parklands. I highly recommend anyone and everyone visiting Brisbane to allocate at least an hour to wander about these parklands ten minutes or more away from the Brisbane CBD. (click on any image to enlarge it)
Recent Canberra Government development announcements
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.
Comment: on being True to the Planet can mean sometimes you have to just say no.
How are we being served by our professions in their provision of buildings and landscape projects? The highest priority for the future of the planet remains that every action be taken in the context of addressing climate change adaptation.
So we have governments in Australia trying to make political capital out of any proposals on infrastructure. Have we ever considered how other governments travel when it comes to delivering on infrastructure. Well let’s try Italy.
There is no doubt that there are aspects of Brisbane that a far more interesting than the city centre. South Bank and the West End are such places. South Bank Parklands have been managed well for years up till now – but I amnot so sure about the current management.
South Bank is a place for leisure, for the family, for picnics, for food and cafes and the cultural centres, for events, and especially for culture such as visits to the state gallery.
There are aspects of Brisbane are beautiful. The river is magic. The photo above, taken some years back illustrates this. The evening lights enhance the unfortunate placement of major roads along the river’s edge. These freeways are transport engineering successes but are barriers to any hope of joining the city to the river.
The central area of the city of Brisbane has evolved into a modern city with many historic buildings surviving. These heritage buildings are now surrounded by an over abundance of glass and concrete walls of taller office building. It is not a pretty sight.
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*.
A mild storm recently broke in the media around comments made by Alain de Botton. To view one Brisbane local news piece on this and see Alain respond – click here. I was alerted to there being something wrong here when certain commentators responded. Oh the media just did not read his new book on the media!
The McDonalds versus the town of Tecoma story as reported earlier, click here, has come to a sad close with the locals having lost the battle. Despite the majority of the citizens not wanting to have a McDonalds outlet within their village like precinct, the planning regulators ruled that what the citizens requested had no bearing on the outcome.
The Huffington Post presents a wonderfully optimistic report about a city that is often regarded as being a terrible example of urban development. I disagree. It has many things wrong with it but if you spend time there you can see that there are some really great things happening. All cities have their problems and many do not much to boast about.
Australia has a very mixed understanding and relationship with wetlands. I happen to be fortunate to live close to one. This came into existence just a couple of years ago when the local government transformed a disused and degraded parkland into a wetland attached to an old style concrete drain.
Opinion: Proposals on fast track development precincts
Introducing democracy into ACT planning and development
Feathers 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.
There’s many a piece of research and publication about the links between access to parks and people’s health and wellbeing. Any urban area that includes ample public green spaces will always be sought after and the benefits are evident in the community attitudes towards their residential areas. Parks enhance the sense of community.
In January 2013 the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, commissioned a review of architecture and the built environment. The report is now available online. The recommendations covered: Education, Outreach and Skills; Design Quality; Cultural Heritage; Economic Benefits; and Built Environment Policy.
See our other blog for more details and commentsclick here
“A brilliant, entertaining and vital book. Montgomery deftly leads us from our misplaced focus on money, cars and stuff to consider what makes us truly happy. Then everything changes – the way we live, work and play in humanity’s major habitat, the city.” – David Suzuki