THE people of Canberra love our trees and when one is threatened unnecessarily, people do whatever they can to save it. Here’s a tale about a significant tree, the ACT’s chief planner, the developer and – the tree’s future. Here’s my piece in City News on this.
Unfortunately what has been happening for years in Canberra, being bad planning and development, looks to continue given the on-going bad decisions by the ACT’s planning minister and his bureaucrats in the planning directorate. Click here.
The 2016 ACT election was just over 12 months ago (how time flies) and the hot election topics back then included planning, development, community engagement and a host of issues around the ACT Government’s dealings with residents.
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.
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→
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.
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.
Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
Evan D. G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas. Random House, 2010
As if there was not enough information available on how the world is not paying attention to all the warning signs, this book was recommended to me to make me aware of the dire situation coming our way in relation to the supply of adequate food for coming generations.
This is all linked in with the issues of climate change, population growth and the way we have allowed our food supplies to be controlled by particular market and political forces. This book is a must read for all.
I was attending a meeting of combined community council two years ago, when to members of the public who were in attendance made very similar appeals. Both were very upset with the quality of the redevelopments that had appeared within their street, despite the local communities objections about key aspects of the developments.
As far as I could ascertain, they were not necessarily opposed to the infill of their suburb. It was more about the nature of the apartments being built.
The Best Planned City: Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System
Despite all the evidence and all the advocacy, our political leaders are still not up to the challenge of dealing with something that is a threat to life as we have come to know it here on this planet. True leadership seems to be in short supply these days.
Sydney’s Central Park development, Chippendale, Sydney
photographs by Paul Costigan – click on image for larger
The Central Park development of the old brewery site opposite UTS in Sydney, has attracted much attention in the last couple of years. Most of this was in the form of churnalism, being column space based on using the developer’s media releases. There has also been the expected paragraphs of praise by ‘industry’ experts in profession’s trade magazines.
This is an opinion piece, not just on a particular park, but about the story behind the park. This park is run by a not-for-profit organization. Should there be more of these in Australia as local government budgets get squeezed and the green infrastructure, trees etc, are being placed low on the priority? Many parks and recreation managers, urban tree supervisors and/or landscape project officers tell the same tale that their resources are being reduced and even the day-to-day maintenance is falling behind.
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!
Unfortunately someone has bravely announced that it will be Canberra’s Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Does that mean there will be an equivalent of the Arcde triomphe, the avenue is to be lined with large international expensive shops, huge crowds day and night, massive amounts of traffic (four lanes each side) and a host of ever-present scammers and pick-pockets.
Canberra has a population around 370,000 and consists of a seven residential districts with a total of over 110 suburbs. As with any other city, there are constant tensions about development and planning issues.
However the most publicised debates usually involve proposals to alter any part of the character of the central districts in and around the Parliamentary Triangle and Lake Burley Griffin. As soon any agency brings forth a proposal concerning these central areas, they are greeted by the usual suspects lining up to voice their opinions. Unfortunately these voices tend to be in opposition and the local press knows exactly who to ring to gather comments for articles that dump on such proposals often before they go out to consultations.
Civic was established to be the main metropolitan centre of Canberra. Back in the 1970s and into the 1980s this was the heart of Canberra and had developed its own culture. People would go there to be seen, to meet and to shop. The outer centres were yet to offer the same level of amenity.
The Canberra Centre was a small mall. So most of action was out in the open areas, Petrie Plaza and Garema Place and the spaces along City Walk.
I was having a quiet moment with friends at the Dickson shops last Friday, when we noticed that we were being circled by three senior ACT Planning officials. We recognised two of them as senior planners, the other was the legal combatant from the famous Marsden Steer battle (link to follow).
We remembered well this guy’s vicious treatment of the residents who were appealing the planning decisions. His way of dealing with the case was best summed up by another resident (a mother) who said, ” now I know where those playground bullies end up!”
Christmas meanderings through Canberra inner north suburbs was a very pleasant way of exercising. The streets were very quiet and the weather very accommodating for these excursions. It was also a timely chance to observe the local levels of commitment to dealing with climate change. It seems every other street in inner Canberra has some form of house being rebuilt or refurbished. But the real attention within the local communities has been on proposals for knocking down adjoining homes and their replacement with multiple units. Continue reading Canberra Urbanity→
In late 2010 I took a photo of a Christmas tree in the main street of Geelong. The structure was all lit up and stood a proud three stories high. What is striking about this image, taken around 5pm one evening, is that there are so few people in the photograph. Elsewhere at this time of the year the streets and plazas are busy with Christmas shoppers and those out for a very warm evening’s promenade. Continue reading Canberra Urbanity→
There’s something very peaceful about returning to this suburban street after working interstate for too long and too often. Here we sit amongst the intense greenery of Dickson, the rush of breezes amongst the lush trees with the occasional squawk or chirping of birds. Layered on this filters in the voices and music of the three young renters next door, the sounds of the baby from the newly arrived couple across to the left, the chatter of the seven-year old with her parents heading out on bikes, the sound of students coming and going down the road, and of course, a dog or two (as there always seems to be around here). Maybe soon this will be joined by the sound of one of the immediate neighbours and their teenage children enjoying dinner outside tonight. A diverse mixture in such a small part of Dickson. And this is what the ACT Planning Minister sees as a threat! Continue reading Canberra Urbanity→
I took a call recently from a local newspaper. I was being asked to comment on the future my own neighbourhood and a recent meeting between residents and ACT Government officials. What the journalist did not appreciate is that I was sitting on the side of my vege garden having been interrupted planting the summer crop of vegetables (it was Sunday). However the situation of talking politics from my own backyard was very appropriate. Continue reading Canberra Urbanity→