The mess that is planning in Canberra
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.
Continue reading Winning design lost to bigger development plan
The lies told too often
Most mainstream media articles about developments in RZ1 residential zones regularly include developers or their loyal followers who will criticise Canberra’s elite NIMBYs.
Continue reading Developers blame selfish residents
The ACT Greenslabor government regularly makes re-announcements about commitments to sometime soon provide homes that are sustainable.
Continue reading Housing ACT as the rogue developer
You need to see this for yourself
There’s a residential development at 18 Darke Street, Torrens, that is beyond belief. This is happening because the city’s planning system is broken and totally corrupted.
Continue reading ACT Government planning failure
ACT Government endorses bad planning
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.
Continue reading Democracy muted as Mick calls in YWCA project
planning in Canberra gets worse
People were shocked to hear the realities of the behaviour of the ACT government as set out clearly by two speakers at the June meeting of the Tuggeranong Community Council.
Continue reading Planning mess: where the hell are the pollies?
ACT Government reduces greenery
The worst behaviour of any politician or bureaucrat is when a mistake has been brought to their attention, that they double down, pretend there’s nothing wrong, produce alternative facts and discredit those who have identified the error.
Continue reading Deaf Greens do nothing as trees come down
There are discussions within the community sector puzzling over the motives of the ACT government’s politicians and bureaucrats when it comes to their managing planning, development and housing.
Continue reading The cruelty of ACT Government politicians
Towards the end of the Inner South Canberra Community Council’s forum last month, a question was asked about whether the chief planner could override decisions on urban trees.
Continue reading Pretending to care about the fate of mature trees
While voters were occupied with the federal election, the ACT Planning Directorate slipped through a variation to Variation 369 – the one that was to deliver greenery to the city’s backyards.
Continue reading ACT Government fails on backyard greenery
Last Tuesday 9
th May, the inner south community met to hear presentations on the ACT Government’s efforts at planning reform.
Continue reading The ACT Government’s planning reforms fail the basics
Particular major urban developments in Canberra have been promoted to be in line with the plans of Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin or somehow in the spirit of the Griffins.
Continue reading Marion Mahony Griffin – What A Life!
Election forums are underway across the city. You do get to watch the candidates in action. Unfortunately, their performances have not been individually or collectively too exciting.
Continue reading Federal candidates should think local
YWCA behaves as questionable developer
The ACT government’s planning system and processes are no longer fit for purpose. They have been corrupted by ad hoc, ill-informed and illogical decisions.
Continue reading YWCA disrespects local community
There are architecture tours of the city of Chicago conducted (when it is not frozen over in winter) to admire the wonders of design incorporated into the city towers. It would be doubtful that there would ever be architecture tours of Woden’s town-centre towers.
Continue reading Woden town cramming continues
while more trees come down!
Last week, the ACT Environment Minister, Rebecca Vassarotti,
announced her draft action plan about the loss of mature trees.
Continue reading ACT Government has morning tea
Once ACT Greens and Labor politicians become very important ministers in the ACT government, their contact with real people diminishes.
Continue reading ACT Politicians need to talk to Watson residents
There used to be the sound of owls in the inner north of Canberra at night time. I didn’t really appreciate the beauty of their call until, one day, I realised it was no more.
Continue reading Owls, old trees and the ACT Government
ACT Government fails on planning, again
When it comes to infrastructure and planning issues, the Woden Valley Community Council continues to have difficulties having real discussions with this ACT Labor/Greens government.
Continue reading woden Valley Community Council issues
I recently sat on the pictured bench and pondered the shrubbery and trees planted in several clumps on a mound in a Downer park.
Continue reading suburban biodiversity
Several conversations of late have centered on the question – what has happened to the much-touted Draft Variation 369?
Continue reading ACT Variation on greenery goes missing in action
and how it is being lost
When Marion Mahony Griffin provided those glorious drawings for the submission to design Canberra, she included a distant view of the mountains.
Continue reading Marion Mahony Griffin’s vision for Canberra
Downer residents confronted with 25 metre pines
The trees along Bradfield Street, Downer, have been the subject of debates in Downer for at least a decade.
Continue reading Local politicians fail residents on trees
increasing biodiversity to the suburbs
There are many open spaces in Canberra that could be doing far more for biodiversity.
Continue reading Nature is messy
ACT Government planning up to old tricks
This tale points to how bad planning has been corrupted by the ACT Labour Greens coalition government.
Continue reading the trees of Ainslie don’t cast shadows!
In November Liberal MLA Jeremy Hanson proposed the ACT Legislative Assembly meet for longer than the allocated 35 days for 2022.
Continue reading ACT Government too busy for community issues
Welcome to 2022. While there are many things not yet addressed in planning and development by the elder Andrew Barr and his government, there are some tangible programs to do with biodiversity that are waiting to happen.
Continue reading Biodiversity begins in the garden
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).
Continue reading Inner South Canberra District Planning Strategy
ACT hides its real intentions on planning reforms
This year’s planning reform announcement was accompanied by the usual spin (sorry,
media release) and another misleading online document (sorry, progress report).
Continue reading Something nasty is stirring in planning reforms
ACT Government does not get biodiversity
Wandering through Civic, there loomed ahead a shape.
Continue reading Christmas, trees and biodiversity
ACT Government fails on equity and empathy
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.
Continue reading The Chris Steel boy band plays Woden
ACT Housing fails on biodiversity
One constant theme of residents is the ad hoc planning regimes that enable knock-down rebuilds in established suburbs resulting in a loss of trees, greenery and biodiversity.
Continue reading ACT world-class heat island in the making
the need to make money leads to development
There are three major development issues within Canberra’s inner north that are going to make things interesting in 2022.
Continue reading Sports club as developer
ACT Government reports how they do not much
A good strategic or corporate plan outlines what is being done and proves timelines.
Continue reading Boxes ticked, it’s time for morning tea
This was to be the year the ACT government was to deliver the much-vaunted reforms to make planning simpler and more accessible.
Continue reading the nightmare of the ACT’s Better Normal
More spin from the ACT Government
Last week ACT Planning Minister Mick Gentleman announced the approval for the draft variation for the first of the “Demonstration House” projects.
Continue reading Spin and ACT Demonstration House
What if the ACT minister for planning was replaced?
About a month ago community organisations floated the idea that the ACT Planning Minister Mick Gentleman, should be replaced. What a great idea!
Continue reading Mick Gentleman passed used-by date
For most people, what happens with planning regulations tends to be of little interest, until the day arrives when it becomes the issue requiring their utmost concentration to work out what the hell is going on.
Continue reading When planning permission is beyond the pale
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?”
Continue reading Urban infill on a human scale
On May 12, I finished a column on the shocking state of Woden developments with this statement: “This government’s expertise in town cramming is worthy of an award.
Continue reading ACT Government stuffs up Woden Town Centre
The ACT political parties have had enough time since the October, 2020, elections for voters to see what they are about.
Continue reading It’s been a year, what do we think of this mob?
Time to duplicate the Urambi Village model
A lot has been said about the folly of the ACT government’s Demonstration Housing Projects. The bureaucratic spin has been frequent and blatant.
Continue reading Move ACT Racing
With the Planning Directorate having lost the debate and all credibility about reforming ACT’s planning systems, its communications sections have been seeding articles to both distract from the real issues or to shift the debate on to safer topics.
Continue reading Fact checking ACT planning
and now heads south to mess up more suburbs
In the late 1980s, if you happened to be in the office of the National Capital Development Commission, at 220 Northbourne Avenue, it was hard to concentrate on the discussions because of the view looking south along Northbourne to the far mountains.
Continue reading ACT Government destroys Northbourne Ave
bunkum, untruths and ACT planning
Two ACT government statements surfaced recently relating to planning issues in different parts of the city.
Continue reading ACT Government planning a lost cause
ACT politicians break protocols at meetings
With the pandemic not going away any time soon, many community groups have utilised technologies to have online meetings – a good thing on wintry nights.
Continue reading ACT Government Ministers talk too much
When the government planners used to plan, community facilities were put in place along with town centres.
Continue reading ACT Government neglects Yerrabi Pond
residents should avoid contact with NCA
I begin this opinion piece about the National Capital Authority (NCA) by going back about 20 years to comments made during a parliamentary committee looking at the NCA.
Continue reading National Capital Authority specializes in being patronising
Is there a planning minister?
Following the media release from the Planning Minister announcing the ACT Planning Review, local community groups were stunned to realise just how badly the current review is progressing.
Continue reading ACT Government and planning
They think they are progressive – HAH!
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?
Continue reading ACT Government fails on social housing
they fib and get away with it!
Going into the 2016 ACT elections, the Chief Minister was under fire because of the Dickson land swap, with the Tradies Club seen as the winners and the taxpayer the losers.
Continue reading ACT Government and more fibs
The ACT Greens fail being green again
This piece starts with recognition of the many community members who made submissions over many years that consistently emphasise that greenery, trees, biodiversity and open spaces are a priority.
Continue reading Another failure of the ACT Greens
Rhetoric alone is not climate action
Once upon a time, Canberra tourism included views of tree-lined suburban streets. That was Canberra as we knew it – a city in a landscape. The ambience was greenery and open spaces.
Continue reading ACT Government fails own climate actions
follow-up on a community groups choosing their values
Proposal to answer queries – a follow up piece
More on Bill Pye Park Ainslie and the YWCA
An article was published this week about the proposed building of social housing on a site now leased by the YWCA on the corner of the block that is largely Bill Pye Park in Ainslie.
Continue reading Cherry picking your values 2
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.
Continue reading Cherry picking your values
More Town Cramming for Woden
For the ACT’s Labor/Greens coalition politicians, planning is not something they worry about much despite it being something of major concern to residents.
Continue reading ACT Government on Town Cramming
A pamphlet arrived in Dickson letterboxes that won’t bring much joy to the other areas of the city. It announced that $3 million is to be spent on Woolley Street, Dickson.
Continue reading ACT Government lacks design leadership
The ACT Government is a planning failure
When the Watson Community Association (WCA) puts forward the community’s views about a proposed development, it does a really thorough job.
Continue reading Watson community knows about planning
The clock is ticking on this ACT Minister
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.
Continue reading ACT Minister for heritage in trouble
planning blunder follow planning blunders
Think back to 2015 when Chief Minister Andrew Barr had to back down on a mess of land dealings locally known as the Manuka Land Swap.
Continue reading ACT Planning learn nothing
Memorial declares war on its trees
The residents of Canberra love this city because of the trees. There are numerous occasions when people have had to rally to save our trees.
Continue reading Australian War Memorial as vandal
Zone changes to maximise profits
Several community associations have had presentations about an ACT government initiative titled the “Demonstration Housing Project”.
Continue reading ACT Government questionable housing program
In the lead up to the October ACT election, trees were an item of interest to anyone wanting to be elected.
Continue reading ACT Government chops down more trees
ACT Greens – all talk and not much action
When governments don’t want to do much about something that requires actions, they hold inquiries, set up “Have Your Say” websites, present loads of useless stuff to public gatherings, talk a lot as if they are doing something and produce draft strategies.
Continue reading ACT Greens not so green
Book Review: Killing Sydney: The Fight For a City’s Soul
Elizabeth Farrelly’s new book “Killing Sydney: The Fight For a City’s Soul” is a must-read for anyone with an interest in their local planning issues.
Continue reading What happens in Sydney – happens here
lack of planning and havoc in Woden
It has been about 18 months since I wrote a full piece about the Woden Town Centre and the ever-increasing planning issues that plague residents.
Continue reading over-development in Woden
Dickson development about to happen
A couple of days before Christmas, a call came through from the Coles project manager to the Dickson Residents Group convenor that the new supermarket complex was to go ahead in May/June 2021.
Continue reading Dickson Supermarket approved
ACT planners review their own rules – not joking!
Canberra residents care for their homes, their streets, their suburbs and wish that the urban environments and facilities were maintained and enhanced for future generations.
Continue reading Yes Minister! rules ACT Government
NCA continues to be tricky
There’s a new level of frustration within Canberra’s community groups with how the ACT government conducts itself on planning and development.
Continue reading National Capital Authority failures
or better still – sack themsleves
When it comes to the ACT government and planning and development, 2020 was not a year to be celebrated.
Continue reading ACT Planning has to change!
Local enthusiasm for trees and parks
When community groups bring residents together to collectively do something for their suburb, good things happen.
Continue reading Canberra community groups have fun
ACT Government and the ACT Greens
Wandering down a street in Auckland, NZ, in early June 2016, we came upon a small group of people having a laugh about an advertising poster.
Continue reading ACT Greens challenged on planning
Making the time out to visit regionally
Earlier this month we ventured out for the day to meet a friend at Braidwood. She was from the south coast and so Braidwood meant we both travelled just over an hour.
Continue reading A day out in Braidwood
Commonwealth Park neglected by government
Attention to a significant piece of national land is being overlooked among the misinformation used to justify the demolition of West Basin.
Continue reading ACT Government ignores Commonwealth Park
Need for a new public art policy
Sometime during the last election, a candidate said something about revising the public sculpture program initiated by Jon Stanhope when he was chief minister.
Continue reading ACT Government and public sculpture
planning spin (fibs) dominate
It could be said that residents and community groups have been a little foolish.
Continue reading ACT Government and spin (fibs)
They talk to voters at elections only
For Canberra residents involved with advocacy on planning and development over the last decade, a major frustration was the attitude of ACT politicians once elected to government.
Continue reading ACT Government and its electorate
And that’s being polite
Canberra’s community groups are increasingly having to argue for a rethink on the placement of social housing within their suburban areas.
Continue reading ACT Government stuffs up social housing
Time to give up on the City Renewal Authority
Has the electorate of Murrumbidgee been overlooked again?
Continue reading City Renewal Authority a loss cause
Canberra’s green infrastructure
Driving west on Belconnen Way, under the Gungahlin Drive Bridge, there is a view that demonstrates how planning and landscape aesthetics are not in the skill set of those who run this city.
Continue reading ACT Government and Greenery
Election 2020 and Shane Rattenbury
Many residents who voted for the ACT Greens are disillusioned given how the partnership with ACT Labor has sidelined many planning, development, environmental, heritage and urban issues.
Continue reading Deafening silence of the ACT Greens
How planning went wrong in MacGregor
In 2010, Dickson residents lodged objections to a unit development and eventually took the developer and the ACT Planning Directorate through the appeals tribunal and won.
Continue reading ACT Government planning mess
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.
Continue reading Ainslie residents and local park rezoning
Mick Gentleman waves through bad planning
When, on August 7, Planning Minister Mick Gentleman made a rare appearance to call in the decision on the Common Ground Dickson development application, there was no surprise. This had been forecasted by residents’ groups.
Continue reading A flawed plan gets the nod
A loser in the 2020 ACT elections?
Chris Steel is currently a Labor-elected member for Murrumbidgee and happens to be the Minister for Something within the ACT Labor/Greens coalition government.
Continue reading Chris Steel works hard to lose 2020 election
Andrew Barr to win – again?
It’s an interesting exercise to commission a friend to draw a cartoon of the three people (two politicians and one bureaucrat) who are largely responsible for Canberra’s planning and development.
Continue reading 2020 ACT Elections
There’s a brochure in circulation about the debate on the future of the green spaces and foreshore along Lake Burley Griffin’s West Basin.
Continue reading West Basin and ACT Government spin
Difficulties for Canberra voters to support greenery
On World Environment Day, June 5, the Canberra Liberals committed to planting one million trees over the next decade if they form government following the October 17 ACT election.
Continue reading Vote for Greenery
Reminder of the Dickson Land Swap
With the ACT election now just over two months away, Chief Minister Andrew Barr would be urging his colleagues not to remind the electorate of the infamous Dickson land swap.
Continue reading ACT Government land deals
another Geocon story
A Regular theme for my column is the spin that dominates the city’s planning and development.
Continue reading Opposition to eight storeys in Kingston
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.
Continue reading Argyle Housing and the Dickson Land Swap
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”.
Continue reading ACT politician almost gets it right
Canberra’s community representatives struggle to find positive things to say about the ACT’s planning directorate. Most have seen too much bad stuff going down.
Continue reading ACT Government’s toxic planning
the empty chair waiting for the right candidate
How candidates perform in the electorate of Murrumbidgee is going to be a focus in the October 17 ACT election.
Continue reading Complexities of the ACT Murrumbidgee electorate
On the last day of April, the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC) issued a media release advocating the importance of streetscapes, open spaces and trees.
Continue reading ACT Greens fail to be green
How the horse paddock grab is about inequity
Residents are often taken aback by the culture of disrespect for locals that has become firmly embedded within the ACT’s political and bureaucratic ranks.
Continue reading NCA and inequity in decisions
The City Renewal Authority uses spin rather than facts
In November, Juliet Ramsay of the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians presented a paper to the Australian ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites).
Continue reading ACT Government avoid facts on West Basin
NCA trades North Curtin horse paddocks
It’s not often that the community sector gets stunned completely by an ACT government development announcement.
Continue reading ACT Government to trash West Basin
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.
Continue reading ACT Government messes with Gungahlin
Canberra’s lack of good design
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?
Continue reading The degradation of Canberra by the ACT Government