Ainslie residents and local park rezoning

YWCA as unthinking developer

While attention is on larger issues such as the pandemic and a host of planning and development disasters, it is important to not overlook the ever-present local development issues.

Residents across Canberra can tell tales of dealing with unwanted developments in their streets – and how hard it is to gain attention for such local goings-on usually brought on by the Planning Directorate or the Ministers for Bulldozing Community Lands, Yvette Berry and Chris Steel.

One of these is happening in Ainslie. Yet again it is about that disingenuous decision by this Greens/Labor government several years ago to allow community zoned land to be used for social housing.

Is Shane Rattenbury listing this on-going loss of open spaces as one of the Greens’ achievements going into the 2020 elections?

The good people along Rutherford Crescent, Ainslie, are very supportive of social housing – especially given the high number in the immediate area. They are also being very cautious about having to criticise the YWCA given the otherwise good work the association does.

Mysteriously, it is the YWCA that is pushing for the community facilities site on Rutherford Crescent to be rezoned for social housing.

For the residents of Dickson – this all seems very familiar. Think Yvette Berry, Section 72 and Common Ground. Here is a site that sits comfortably within the local community that the residents would like to be used for the direct benefit of the community.

But the government together with the YWCA is moving to have the land rezoned for a housing block.

The Ainslie residents are requesting that there be dialogue about social housing in the residential zones where it is already accepted, but please do not bulldoze this corner of the park to build two-storey apartments.

The site is on the inner-corner of Bill Pye Park, off Office Crescent. Rutherford Crescent circles the park.

Up to about 20 years ago, the buildings operated as a pre-school. It was then leased to the YWCA for childcare and community activities. They then subleased the site for the last 10 years to a drug and alcohol service provider who used it as office accommodation rather than the uses specified in the lease.

The YWCA was successful in obtaining $125,000 a grant to assist with a “Supportive Housing Project on Under-utilised Community Facility Land”.

The residents question the YWCA’s definition of this being under-utilised community facility when the locals have a list of ideas they would like to talk about.

To date the so-called community engagement has been very limited and has been about telling people what is to happen instead of talking with the residents about options for more facilities on this cherished site (where have we heard that before?).

Is bulldozing Yvette Berry about to do over yet another community site?

The residents have a pamphlet online. No matter where you live in Canberra, it is worth reading as this type of horrible planning and development on community land has happened elsewhere and is likely to continue with Yvette Berry, given her inclination to upset local neighbourhoods.

There’s lots of people who wish the Ginninderra voters would do something about her when they vote – for instance, put her last on the ballot paper.

The residents are asking for something very sensible.

“Give The Community Land Back to the Community!” pamphlet is here.


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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