Urban development leadership

Kingston-P1020129When Jon Stanhope commented on his disappointment – or was it frustration – with the lack of the ACT Government’s achievement in delivering on social housing, it struck a note with anyone who likewise considers that the LDA/directorate is focused on land sales at the expense of urban development and issues such as social housing.

I am sure Canberra citizens appreciate that those in treasury and finance are constantly seeking ways and developing policies to see the funds being raised and spent effectively. Likewise, residents expect our government to enhance the urban environments.

It is this latter expectation that the current government is failing to address.

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At present one directorate, and minister, oversee both urban development and finances/treasury. These two fundamental government operations need to split from each and to be located within totally separate ministerial portfolios and departments.

Having these two important functions under the leadership of two separate ministers would mean that those within the urban development portfolio would have to argue their case with treasury to deliver enhancements to Canberra’s urban environments.

Within the present arrangements the case for 21st century quality and sustainable urban development loses out to the priority for land sales. This need to raise money displaces all other priorities within this complex portfolio.

There have been far too many instances in recent years whereby the ‘community engagement unit’ or ‘urban renewal taskforce’ of the LDA/directorate has issued marketing spin to justify why there is need to make yet another intrusion into the suburban fabric enjoyed by citizens. The latest disturbance, which has surfaced within Franklin over a new development proposal, is pointing towards yet another round of stress and upset to be foisted upon residents who have other aspirations for the land in question – in this case for the educational requirements for an expanding population.

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It now seems that there are talking points issued for all of our politicians and aspiring candidates on any topic related to urban development queries. Politicians of all colour avoid the essence of the issues raised and instead consistently turn their responses to promoting ‘choice’ and ‘mix-use developments’ and the need to in-fill established suburbs.

These talking points ignore the fact that Canberra has always had a range of housing choices and that mix-use developments have been becoming commonplace in Canberra’s recent history. The intensification of suburbs has now been underway for decades. The issue has not been about the residential intensification but about quality design and appropriate locations and styles of such developments.

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Our politicians (I am looking at all of you) use distracting and superficial (and boring) statements that avoid addressing the need for innovative urban development policies and actions that are about being honest with residents and about enhancing our cherished urban environments

This Dickson resident has a few Christmas wishes for the urban development in Canberra for 2016. A big one is that a local politician or two will dump the suffocating and mindless talking points and commit to engaging with locals to bring about positive changes as to how the residential infill is being delivered across all our suburbs.

xmas-P1080671Let’s have far more good design, loads of greenery and enhancements to the biodiversity. And as for those politicians who won’t commit to this vision for Canberra – bah humbug to you and all your mates!

 

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