Dickson Section 72

August 2014

Proposal for development of Dickson Section 72
Omnibus Proposed Territory Plan Variation (TPV)

The ACT Government, through the Land Development Agency  signalled discussions about their intention tp plan variation to undertake developments on a block of land, Section 72 Dickson, which is located on the north end of Dickson, east of the shops and behind the swimming pool on the corner of Cowper and Antill Streets.

Section 72 Dickson is approximately 500m from the Dickson Group Centre and 4.4km (by road) from the City Centre. The site is bounded by Cowper Street, Antill Street, Hawdon Place and Sullivans Creek (affectionately known as the Dickson Drain).

The current site details included that the site has been designated commercial , leisure and accommodation use – under a code titled CZ6

The Land Development Agency wished for this planning code to be varied so that it could included new residential developments.

Section72-Dickson

The Land Development Agency conducted information sessions to inform the local community of its intentions. The night of the main session, it was wet and cold. Despite te weather,  the hall for the information session was swamped with local residents who were concerned about how development such as this would hinder the potential for future community facilities. The officers from the  Land Development Agency in attendance were not ready for the high levels of anxiety that these proposals had generated and were struggling to deal with the queries and criticisms.

The  Land Development Agency had outlined that the ACT Government already manages a number of blocks in this precinct and, as a precinct, Section 72 contains a number of blocks that have potential for future land release, subject to a TPV being undertaken to change the current CZ6 zoning to permit a wider range of uses, including residential.

The  Land Development Agency was arguing that the development of this land, combined with the redevelopment of community facilities would support the Dickson Group Centre, increasing diversity in the residential community, supporting transport networks and provide a mix of leisure and community facilities for residents. This argument was not well received as it was seen as a proposal to reduce community facilities, the urban amenity and was not being proposed within the context of a full neighbourhood plan. The proposals were being seen as ad hoc, opportunistic, and as being a convenient sale to turn what was seen as community lands into retail opportunities for local developers.

The biggest issue being identifed by the local residents was that the Land Development Agency, being attached to the Economic Directorate,  was signalling its intentions to go to Planning Authority (the Environment and Planning Directorate) which has a bad reputation amongst locals for looking after community concerns while the needs of developers have usually taken the priority over residents.

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