ACT Variation on greenery goes missing in action

Several conversations of late have centered on the question – what has happened to the much-touted Draft Variation 369?

This was the big late 2019 announcement about new planning rules to get more trees, greenery and shade on to suburban plots, about having more porous surfaces and increasing the urban trees and the biodiversity.

These additional requirements sounded great in the announcements but the reality within the documentation was something else.

It was a climate change lite approach.

Definitely not serious enough for a government wanting to address climate change in urban developments.

But it was a small first step and people were looking forward to it being implemented and then strengthened it as soon as possible.

But the government is still sitting on it. It is now 2022, and it is yet to be implemented.

Meanwhile the ACT government has just announced the completion of a set of ACT Housing units in Dickson. Things are not too bad architecturally. Maybe it looks too much like a prison!

Except where are the shade trees, the shrubbery and what about those vast areas of concrete? Not exactly porous surfaces. There will be flooding when there is a downpour or two.

This is the ongoing problem with this ACT Labor/Greens government. They say a lot, make worthy sounding announcements and boast about what they intend to do – one day – maybe.

The reality is that sections such as ACT Housing operate in their own universe as if there was no push to address climate issues when they build units such as these in Dickson.

Time to treat climate change as an urgent whole-of-government matter. Over to you ACT ministers for Planning and the Environment.

The report card reads: Try harder – you can do a lot better!


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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