When I was first alerted to the issues below – sadly my response was: Why am I not surprised?
Architecture and all that spin
If there is one occupation that I could not imagine doing, it is being an ACT Government planner who spends most of the day looking through development applications (DA) for commercial developments.
The Problem Isn’t Architecture, It’s Urban Design
Interesting read – but I think they let the architects off too easily. Click here.
Sad story from Manchester. Lesson? – watch out for the spin when developments are announced. click here
Very strange things happen in the urban design planning space in Canberra.
We expect a lot of our politicians. People rightly expect their elected representatives to do just that – be representatives of the people who elected them. That’s not always a success story.
Popping up on the northern edge of Canberra is a new set of buildings – known by its gateway title as Canberra Park.
There’s significant redevelopment underway on Northbourne Ave in Canberra.
There are not too many places that have tram (light rail) stops that are exciting designs. Most are functional and are usually simply places marked where you stand to catch the tram.
a note to the ACT Chief Minister
About the architecture along Northbourne Avenue
How to waste public money
The saga of the proposed Garden Bridge over the Thames in London has been well covered in the UK press. It is indeed a saga. It is about a folly.
Canberra’s planning system remains super complicated and out of reach of ordinary citizens.
Weston Creek and public housing
There’s been some great public discussions in the media around the spin that has been put out by the government to distract from the real problems with the decisions to place new government housing developments into several Weston Creek suburbs.
Two things to consider: One is that heritage is about to be celebrated here in Canberra with a festival from 18 April till 7 May 2017.
When the government says one things but does the other…
The press release from the Woden Community Council points to the problems with planning in Canberra.
School Parking – should schools provide adequate parking?
It was several months ago that the suburbs were being infiltrated regularly by ACT politicians trying to get attention – anyone’s attention.
I have said elsewhere about online surveys – they are useful but caution needs to apply if anyone intends to use them to inform planning. They are not reliable for that purpose.
There’s a call by the ACT Government for residents to go online and to offer thoughts on the future of Haig Park.
It’s Chinese New Year again (28th January). This time around it is the year of the rooster.
2017 in Canberra began with announcements that so many new buildings are about to change the city’s landscape.
Here in Dickson there has been a very long series of road works.
At the meeting in August 2016 on the government’s proposals to redevelop the West Basin of Lake Burley Griffin, the main line taken by the government was that their proposals were based on the Griffin Legacy.
I believe in good government. I believe that many of our public sector employees do a great job. Occasionally, I even witness a politician who has values and fights for them (rarely).
The Canberra City Bowling Club site in Braddon has now been the subject of articles across several blogs.
Local governments rarely get the opportunity to completely makeover and enhance the main entry to the city – and the city centre itself.
This is the question (what is going on?) residents around Braddon had hoped to be answered when they attended a developer initiated information session on Thursday evening 8th December.
LDA up to its old tricks again
There’s one thing about the way the ACT Government goes about planning for Canberra–it will always use any tricky method to justify how it assists the developers.
The Appeal against the recently approved development application (DA) for the Dickson supermarket complex goes to its next phase very soon (see dates below).
We were driving along Limestone Ave when the Ainslie church sign came into view. It is regularly changed and sometimes takes a minute or two to comprehend.
It took about three hours of argument on Friday 28th October for a decision by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) on whether certain government planning documents should be released to those making objections to the Government’s agreement to the revised Development Application (DA) for the Dickson supermarket.
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.
Earlier this year we drove south to the Mawson shops (Southlands) to shop at one of the specialist supermarkets as well as to take in a Middle Eastern brunch.
Canberra is usually referred to as being a designed and/or planned city. Continue reading Government Architect – what’s that?
Following weeks (or was that months) of questions over land dealings and major developments, and now audits being announced into departmental processes, the Chief Minister has gone on the front foot and announced an idea to change his government’s methods of consulting on ‘Urban Redevelopment’.
Reviewing City of Sydney’s public art commissions
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
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.
Comment on the Art of Trees
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.
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.
From The Huffington Post
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.
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.
Stories: from the Guardian
a small town battle against the odds
There are many situations within Australia, whereby the community takes umbrage at local planning decisions. It is not unusual to find that many of these disputes are focused around the local shopping centre. And again within those arguments, how often is that the issue is to do with the dominance of the two major supermarkets?
Happy City, Charles Montgomery, 2013
From the blurb online:
“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
Leadership in Landscape Design
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.
Opinion: Urban Trees and Heat
A case study of neglect and willful blindness?
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.
Urbanity: A tale of community action
Tecoma community objects to Big Mac development
Occasionally in Australia it still happens that a community gets their collective act together to take on the local authorities over some stupid planning decisions. I have been involved in such an action – the Great Marsden Street Battle.
It also happens that communities take the ‘shocking’ decision to say no to the invasion of one of the big box retailers, or in this case one of the big fast food giants.
The outer Melbourne community of Tecoma was awakened one day in 2011 to the imminent invasion into their picturesque community of Macdonalds.
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.
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.”
Review: Grand Hope Park Los Angeles
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.
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.
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.
Climate Change adaptation falters in the suburbs
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!
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?
The next Northbourne Avenue
The basics of a proposal for rethinking this important piece of Green Infrastructure
The main road into Canberra from the north has been the topic of much debate following the ACT Government’s announcement that it is build a light rail with the route being from Civic to the newer suburbs of Gungahlin. In the wings sits the developer lobby as this transport initiative would provide the final green light for the major intensification of the commercial and residential buildings along the full length of Northbourne Ave
Anzac Parade: A mixed tale of Trees and Lights
Trees are important in our urban environments. They are part of our urban green infrastructure and perform important roles assisting in health and well-being as well as climate change adaptation.
And they are just beautiful. I like trees.
Development: Lake Burley Griffin Debates
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.
Thinking outside that box
originally published Monday, 16 September 2013
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.
Are we to be served?
originally published Monday, 9 September 2013
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!”
original published November 2010
DESIGNS ON THE FUTURE FOR CANBERRA RESIDENTS
The debate in Canberra, particularly around my own suburb of Dickson, of the future of infill and the need to redevelop our suburbs has now focussed on the dire need to change the way this territory does the business of planning and development. The Canberra community is not fighting to halt development, but is wishing to influence the planning and development decisions to ensure that development delivers on the needs of present and future generations, the young and the elderly, and need to address the full range of human and environmental issues – being housing, health, ecology, transport – and you know the rest. Continue reading Canberra Urbanity
Are we being served?
Originally published January 2011
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
The Dangers of being Malled
originally published December 2010
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
Views from the front veranda
originally published December 2010
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
ROAMING your backyard
originality published 2010
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