Many decades ago when talking to a staff member of the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) in their 220 Northbourne office about urban and social matters, I was distracted by the view south from the 9th floor office window.
The Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC) meeting on Tuesday 11th April was reported to have been a lively event with a couple of Greenslabor politicians providing their take on the ACT chief minister’s so-called planning reforms.
Community groups who have studied the Greenslabor planning reform plans and strategies know that the chief minister’s deregulation reforms will devastate the suburban characteristics that attract people to this city.
There is huge gap in values between those of the residents of this city and those of the ACT’s planning authority. Canberra’s community groups have been writing submissions about their aspirations and urban priorities for more than a decade.
Minister for Canberra Planning re-asserts his authority
The Minister for Canberra Planning has reassured residents that the minister has read the hundreds of submissions that hard working Canberra residents have submitted about the so-called planning reforms.
The most obvious stuff up about the release of the November 1 media release on the Planning Reforms is that what is being proposed does not recognise that planning and development are the most basic keys that the ACT government should be using to deal with urban climate issues.
Inner north Canberra community members have been swamped with major development proposals that, according to the planning directorate, need to be commented on in a very short timeframe. The Bureau of Meteorology could not have forecast this inundation of paperwork.
Rebecca Vassarotti, the ACT Sustainable Building and Construction Minister, announced in late August that state and territory ministers had agreed to a national mandatory seven-star rating for new residential buildings, starting next October.
The decline of architectural design solutions and the loss of political will to deliver good urban design in Canberra was clearly illustrated through the presentation to the North Canberra Community Council committee.
In February, 2012, the then-ACT Labor Environment and Sustainable Development Minister, Simon Corbell, officially opened the Dickson Wetlands (completed in 2011). This marvellous water feature changed the neighbourhood.
The ACT’s planning directorate is a rogue bureaucracy doing the bidding of anyone but the residents of Canberra. Few residents would be confident that the directorate has the expertise to do anything except to continuously mess stuff up.
The ACT’s “Greenslabor” government has provided multiple opportunities this year for the Canberra Liberals to step up and demonstrate that maybe in 2024 they could be ready to form government if the voters were to be convinced.
In this city with the ever-increasing towers, as encouraged by the developer-friendly chief minister, the major issue is not just the towers themselves, but the lack of planning guiding the appropriateness and logic of their size and the location.
Residents take the lead in planning for their suburbs
First, a shout out to the hard-working community council volunteers who bring together views of residents and then present these to the government. The latest has just been published by the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC).
For almost half a decade, the Woden Valley Community Council (WVCC) has been careful not to oppose development. The WCCC has focused on the quality of the developments and to have the redevelopments include social and sporting facilities.
In response to my September 8 column on how the ACT Greens have turned their backs on biodiversity, a question popped up asking: “You’re a consistent opponent of higher-density development. Do you not think that urban sprawl is bad for the climate?”
As the West Basin foreshore fills with expensive rubble, and a huge chunk of money is being spent taking the tram west around London Circuit to the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, how does anyone justify such excessive expenditures given so many other priorities are being neglected?
For a self-nominated progressive government, the ACT Labor/Greens government has not done well with social housing. Their only success in this area is the boldness of their superficial claims. Do they believe they own rhetoric?
Community Group as developer chooses to ignore basic values
When the ACT government announced it had approved the development application by the YWCA to build social housing on the corner of Bill Pye Park in Ainslie*, there was a collective sigh of frustration from residents.
Having been in government for four months, Rebecca Vassarotti, ACT Minister for the Environment and Heritage, should now have a firm view on heritage and comprehend that her role is about being a leader in the stewardship of Canberra’s environments.
When the ACT’s City Renewal Authority made its announcement on Tuesday (August 11) about the latest plan for West Basin, there was a slight glimmer of hope that, at last, maybe someone was listening. Not so!
ACT Government entangles Common Ground in Land Swap
Stephen Bartos, chair of social housing provider Common Ground, said his organisation wasn’t involved in the planning processes around the planned Dickson site and certainly didn’t want to be, when he spoke to “CityNews” on June 3.
Here’s praise for an ACT politician. The accolade goes to the Greens’ Caroline Le Couteur for her work in chairing (from 2016) the Legislative Assembly committee on planning and urban renewal and the release of the April report – “The Inquiry into Engagement with the Development Application Process in the ACT”.
Alternative facts are being used to deny the ramifications on a national asset and on the lives of Canberra’s active equestrian communities as the public wakes up to the ACT government’s secret land swap with the NCA.
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?
When the government slipped through the unique variations to the rules for south-east corner of section 72 Dickson, all the local government members, including Green/Labor member Shane Rattenbury, signed off on this most inappropriate action by the planning minister.
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.
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.
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.