ACT Government planning a lost cause

bunkum, untruths and ACT planning

Two ACT government statements surfaced recently relating to planning issues in different parts of the city.

Both are typical of what people unfortunately expect of ministers of this ACT Labor/Greens coalition.

The statements indicate the lack of respect this government has towards residents.

When announcing the beginning of the construction of the new Dickson supermarket complex, Planning Minister Mick Gentleman made a statement about how the government had worked with the community to improve the project and that it had put in place arrangements to deal with the loss of parking – because the development is about building on the main car park next to Woolworths in Dickson.

Total bunkum, the lot of it!

When the original proposals were thrown out by the appeals tribunals, a serious rebuke was sent to the government and the developers because the faults were so numerous and could have easily been avoided. It was the residents who then reached out to the developers and worked through some compromises that saw a new proposal come forward and approved.

The government, being the politicians and their planning and development agencies, offered nothing positive. They were part of the problem.

On the parking, residents have been clear from day one about eight years ago, that this project would cause disruptions to the remainder of the centre unless the government came up with new parking arrangements. They had eight years to do something. The did nothing except distract from the issues identified by residents.

Finally, sometime in the last months someone handed crayons to the planning chief and he highlighted in various colours the available parking anywhere near the shops. This was the new arrangement.

Colourful crayons and alternative facts do not produce the required parking for the rest of the centre to attract people to sustain businesses through several years of construction.

Then there are the media releases from that same Minister for Planning about the housing development by the Federal Golf Course – bordering Red Hill, Garran and Hughes and, possibly, a little of Deakin.

Ye,s folks – here we go again. Another sporting organisation that has concessional land and needs cash urgently. Solution? Build apartments on the community land it doesn’t need and then sell them off. They make a bucket of money from land obtained through huge concessions and now pocket the profits.

A government that works on behalf of the residents would simply take the unused land back.

Over on the northside, residents are asking similar questions about the Yowani Golf Club proposals and the more recent one by the horse racing club.

In the case of the latter, locals think it would be a good idea to move the race course out of the centre of town and replace it with sensible developments that include an upgrading of the wetlands and a larger parkland for everyone to use.

It is the sort of thing that a Greens Party should have been pushing for. But sadly, not the current ACT Greens. All energies by this green-wash party are put into keeping their jobs. None would dare speak out and upset the racing club.

But back to the southside and the Federal Golf Club proposals. The statements from the combined Hughes and Garran Associations say it all.

They point out that this stuff has a 30-year history with residents having to be vocal about each urban-environment-destroying concept (my words to sum up theirs). With the latest, the residents are saying they can support most of it but reject the housing development and the associated new road.

They firmly reject the Planning Minister’s statement that this latest proposal has majority community support. The same minister had previously said that the project would not advance without majority community support.

Instead, the Planning Directorate has supplied alternative facts for the minister and he signed off on them – as he does each time.

To sum up:

  • Sporting bodies should not be allowed to profit through the sale of concessional land. If they do not need it, then it should be taken back for community use – parklands preferably. ACT Greens, where the hell are you?
  • The Planning Minister should be called out for issuing misleading statements.
  • The Planning Directorate should be subject to serious ridicule for the lack of actions over eight years to get new parking in place when a main Dickson car park was taken over for construction of the new supermarket / apartment complex.
  • The planning chief should be kept away from crayons!


This article is a version of the piece originally published online with City News

Paul Costigan is an independent commentator and consultant on the visual arts, photography, urban design, environmental issues and everyday matters.

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