Developers ruin the town centre, politicians silent!
In late 2019 the ACT government proposed to vary the plan for the Gungahlin town centre. It didn’t take long for the Gungahlin Community Council to spot the devil in the detail – or to be more accurate – what detail went missing.
After any neighbourhood auction, the conversations usually follow a similar line: will the property be occupied and the garden maintained or will it be up for demolition for yet another large, grey box with the established greenery taken away as rubble?
The Chief Minister Andrew Barr and his Labor/Greens government have made it clear that their view of Canberra’s future is different from that of the city’s residents and those that cherish its place in the world as Australia’s bush capital.
At the February public forum staged by the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC), the answers to particular questions indicated how much the ACT’s Greens/Labor government values the city’s tree canopy, its biodiversity and its green infrastructure.
On January 29, “CityNews” published a well-researched article about how the Woden Valley Hospital’s future had been mishandled and is now seriously hindered in its capacity to deliver to the people of Canberra.
Previously I reported that there remains a looooong list of dubious matters involved with the proposed building of a Common Ground apartment complex on Section 72 Dickson. These date back to the infamous Dickson land swap.
This piece is based on the extraordinary goings-on of an Australian federal minister – and her use of alternate facts to pretend that there is nothing wrong when the Auditor General has reported otherwise.
In August 2019, Ben Ponton, the ACT’s chief planner, said: “Your feedback plays a key role through your unique ability to communicate useful observations into issues that may affect your neighbourhood…”
The year begins with yet another event around Dickson section 72 (Dickson parklands) involving ACT Housing Minister Yvette Berry doing her best to upset and alienate the voters within the inner north, just in time for the 2020 elections.
The Singapore government of the ’70s, led by Lee Kuan Yew, was hell-bent on building a modern and prosperous city/state. It took a close relative to point out that if he wanted tourists to visit, then he needed to stop bulldozing the old stuff.
When the ACT Legislative Assembly voted in October to establish a committee to examine the planning problems that plagued the development of the Molonglo suburbs of Wright and Coombs, it would follow that this signalled that someone may be paying attention to what residents have been saying for the last few years.
Next year on October 17, the date for the ACT government election, voters must choose a government for the following four years.
Given the views about current ACT politicians, the thought of being compelled to vote is a real dilemma. The leadership chair that trusted politicians should occupy is empty. Yet by this time next year, voters need to put someone in that empty chair.
Canberra, our bush capital, is a good place to live (no surprises there). Part of the credit for this goes to residents who have put in time and energy over decades to bring people together through neighbourhood groups and the larger combined community councils.
These community leaders encourage debates (usually friendly) and exchanges of information on a whole range of issues, with planning and development being the usual hot topics (thankfully, not always).
On the same evening, the North Canberra Community Council (NCCC) hosted a presentation by Malcolm Snow, the real CEO of the City Renewal Authority, on the authority’s program for urban developments and infrastructure around Civic and north to Dickson.
This opinion piece only scratches the surface of the enormous problems we have here in Canberra with planning and development. The whole of the planning system has been corrupted by decades of bad management and the development of a culture that has residents as the enemy to be tricked and out manoeuvred. Click here for my piece in City News.
After almost a decade of residents saying very clearly what their preferred options were for a precious community site within Dickson in the inner north of Canberra (Dickson Parklands) , residents have been told that Yvette Berry, Minister for social housing (housing clearances mostly) is to announce that her wonderful deaf government is to build on this community site. Click here for the opinion piece published in City News.
for another instance of Yvette Berry’s talent – click here – being dismissive about the urgent and long over due needs for sports, community and cultural facilities in Woden.
Yvette Berry as ACT sports minister attended a recent Woden Valley meeting and totally trashed all the ideas that residents put forward for much needed and well-overdue sports, recreation and cultural facilities for Woden – where there are 20 plus towers of apartments about to appear. And as yet – no facilities are being planned for the area. WTF?? Click here for the opinion piece in CityNews.
Good journalism is welcomed and embraced. Journalism that is written to promote bad decisions by government must be called out. Here’s an example of the latter. The author, Tom Greenwell, starts well by making some points about Walter Burley Griffin’s planning for Canberra. But then he commits the crime of using Griffin’s name and visions to justify some outrageous developments being planned by the ACT Government (Urban Renewal Authority again!) that will destroy a wonderful part of the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin. Click here for the article in City News.
and for more about West Basin alternative facts – click here; includes letters from Richard Johnstone of kingston – a supporter of West Basin developments.
And for more on the arguments against what Tom Greenwell has written – click here for a very well informed piece by Penny Moyes, one of the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians.
Before the 2016 ACT Elections, the chief minister promised that there would be a panel formed to bring about master planning for the precinct around the Manuka Oval. That panel was to meet by the end of 2016. Did not happen! Instead there have been games, spin and alternative facts. The most recent insult being a meeting called that pretended to be about Manuka planning – but was simply a waste of people’s time. Another broken commitment by the ACT Chief Minster. Another insult to the intelligence of residents by Andrew Barr and his planning barbarians. click here for the opinion piece in City News.
When developers eye off ACT Government green spaces – the trend in Canberra is that those developers get to buy that land and the people lose yet another piece of precious community open space. This is happening with land behind the Kippax shops in west Belconnen in Canberra.The local Labor member is Yvette Berry and she loves to show up with a shovel to be photographed when community land and green spaces are being removed from the public ownership. Click here for the opinion piece in City News.
Two stories about a meeting at the Woden Community Council meeting in late July. The first is about an ACT Minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith, addressing the audience and apparently not having an understanding of the depth of anger about the lack of facilities in this centre – despite the enormous growth in apartments. The second involved the ACT Government’s planning bureaucracy’s mishandling of a small green space within the suburb of O’Malley. Both performances were astonishingly terrible – sort of funny if it was not about people’s lives. Click here for the opinion piece in City News.
The agency that is supposed to be the steward for the national capital, the National Capital Authority (NCA), does come out with some rubbish at times. In this case it floated the idea of pulling down Commonwealth Ave bridge to build a new bridge for the tram. Luckily the project engineer who worked on the bridge is around t point out how stupid this thought bubble was. Click here for my opinion piece in City News.
The suburb of Reid in Canberra is one of the oldest and residents accept that there are heritage values to be considered for most of the suburb. When a house was demolished and plans were approved by the ACT Government that paid token attention to these heritage values – residents were not happy. To make matters worse the ACT Heritage Council approved the development application. What were they thinking! Click here for my opinion piece on this in the City News.
Chris Steel became an ACT Labor Minister about a year ago. Watching him recently at a Weston Creek Community Council meeting I became aware of how these Labor politicians have so easily accepted the arguments of the classic NeoLiberals. It is all about market forces. Click here for my opinion piece in City News.
How does a group of otherwise sort-of-reasonable people get convinced that they are doing humane and considerate things when they allow the development of the city to happen in such a barbaric manner. click here for more
Talk to a builder, a building designer/architect or tradesperson working in Canberra’s construction and soon the conversation turns to the frustrations of having to work through development applications (DAs) with what is seen as the badly managed ACT Government’s planning directorate. click here for more
Imagine this. You have bought a home and paid extra for views of the hills and to be opposite a quiet park alongside a pond with bird life and other animals. Trouble is the ACT Government then wrecks the place.. click here
Two years ago the new ACT chief planner, Ben Ponton, went on the record in the daily paper with a statement about how wonderful he would be. I have used those statements to assess whether he has met his own key performance indicators (KPIs). He didn’t!
There are serious problems with the National Capital Authority (NCA) that could be addressed by the soon-to-be-elected ACT Federal politicians. I have outlined the background to the issues in a piece in City News – click here
For residential representatives in Canberra, the last few months have been very onerous due to the simultaneous release of a load of government consultation documents as well as the usual tricky development applications (DA) that need to be consumed and feedback provided. Click here for my piece on this.
The ACT Greens/Labor coalition government has a host of ministers who are making a mess of the planning and development of Canberra’s urban environments. The question asked by the community sectors is where do the ACT Liberals stand on these planning issues. Click here for my piece in City News on this topic.
You can tell when residents are hitting the government where it hurts – when the press coverage from the government turns to spin – and more spin. There is no doubt that this is a response to the successes the pesky residents of Downer have had in getting attention through their brilliant “Don’t Dump on Downer” grassroots campaign. Click here.
With the Christmas release of the draft City and Gateway Urban Design Framework, the ACT Government’s City Renewal Authority undertook media advocacy during February for an apartment suburb on West Basin. The ACT Government continues with its proposal for West Basin against the opposition of the Canberra community – click here.
THE ACT’s muddle-headed bureaucrats keep coming up with planning brochures laden down with alternate facts and marketing spin. Ministers then blindly sign letters to residents based on the bureaucrats’ gobbledygook and then wonder why people get upset. I wrote about what is happening in Downer in City News.
In Canberra how developers bend and get around planning rules is a common debate. The ACT Government has several ministers who mess around in planning and development – and all not good at it. See my City News article – click here.
Here in Dickson we have seen the disgraceful, long-running mess created by planning ministers and bureaucrats about the establishment of a second supermarket in Dickson. This mess is typical of how business is carried out under the current planning minister.
THE people of Canberra love our trees and when one is threatened unnecessarily, people do whatever they can to save it. Here’s a tale about a significant tree, the ACT’s chief planner, the developer and – the tree’s future. Here’s my piece in City News on this.
Late in 2018 residents rallied about a questionable development proposal for 71 Constitution Avenue in Campbell. This development comes under the National Capital Authority and residents were dealing with the fact that the development broke the NCA’s own rules yet somehow it was being progressed. Here’s my piece in City News.
Social housing in Canberra as overseen by the ACT Government is not something seen as being well done. Here in Canberra’s inner north residents are involved in a long running battle to save some precious community land being rezoned for residential use – with social housing being used as the Trojan Horse. Here’s my piece in City News
Unfortunately what has been happening for years in Canberra, being bad planning and development, looks to continue given the on-going bad decisions by the ACT’s planning minister and his bureaucrats in the planning directorate. Click here.
The ACT Government has a sad history of very nasty behaviour by some bureaucrats towards the residents. This is not new and it continues today. Unfortunately when it occurs our elected politicians tend not to want to hear about it – they turn away.
This is the story of one such incident – it is bullying at its worst.
There’s a massive urban development on the western edge of Canberra (beyond Belconnen) called Ginninderry. There are a lot of good things being done by the developer at Ginninderry. But it is hard not to notice issues around the ACT government’s involvement as a partner. It is a very dubious arrangement.
Congratulations to all the residents who care and work hard on planning matters – endlessly. The shocking thing is that those in government, on all sides, now take it as normal that they are not trusted and respected. It is not something anyone should simply live with.
On December 5 our blessed planning minister, Mick Gentleman, ascended Mount Ainslie to hand down the 2018 ACT Planning Strategy. This was just another media performance to try to convince someone that this government takes planning serioulsy.
Canberra desperately needs a real-life planning minister who works honestly with the people of the city to get great results. Unfortunately we have one who is not regarded as being a minister who does his job but rather sits on his hands and watches the city’s amenities being degraded
The suburb of Downer is the next inner-north Canberra suburb to be subjected to the reign of development terror from our “much-loved” planning authorities as they allow the developers free rein to maximise profits.