Category Archives: urban design

The ACT Government’s planning reforms fail the basics

Last Tuesday 9th 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

Marion Mahony Griffin – What A Life!

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!

YWCA disrespects local community

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

Woden town cramming continues

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

ACT Government has morning tea

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

ACT Politicians need to talk to Watson residents

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

Owls, old trees and the ACT Government

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

The good and bad of Consultation

During a recent Inner South Canberra Community Council meeting, a topic mentioned by several speakers was one of the fundamental problems with the ACT planning system.

Continue reading The good and bad of Consultation

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?

Continue reading ACT Variation on greenery goes missing in action

Tram spin to defeat the NCA

A compliant NCA to be fooled again

The ACT government’s proposal to “Raise London Circuit” for the tram was submitted for approval to the National Capital Authority (NCA) in October.

Continue reading Tram spin to defeat the NCA

Marion Mahony Griffin’s vision for Canberra

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

The NCA can stop the tram going south

The National Capital Authority (NCA) finished 2021 on a low note. Not that would surprise those who have recently dealt with the NCA.

Continue reading The NCA can stop the tram going south

ACT Government too busy for community issues

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

Biodiversity begins in the garden

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

Inner South Canberra District Planning Strategy

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 Government fails on landscape design

Design leadership missing in action

The south side of Franklin Street, Manuka, was shut off during November for several clusters of seats and tables on fake grass. It was apparently another of this government’s pop-up experiments.

Continue reading ACT Government fails on landscape design

Christmas, trees and biodiversity

ACT Government does not get biodiversity

Wandering through Civic, there loomed ahead a shape.

Continue reading Christmas, trees and biodiversity

The Chris Steel boy band plays Woden

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

Sports club as developer

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

Boxes ticked, it’s time for morning tea

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

the nightmare of the ACT’s Better Normal

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

Kingston Arts Space reboot – maybe

Inner-south community groups received a curious, but welcomed, phone call on Thursday (November 4) from the communications officer of the ACT Suburban Land Agency (SLA).

Continue reading Kingston Arts Space reboot – maybe

When planning permission is beyond the pale

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

ACT Government stuffs up Woden Town Centre

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

It’s been a year, what do we think of this mob?

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?

Move ACT Racing

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

ACT government planning gets personal and stupid

On Wednesday, September 15, the ACT’s planning bureaucrats issued their decisions on an application for re-consideration for the second stage of the development of the Manuka hotel-residential cinema complex by Liangis Investments Pty Ltd.

Continue reading ACT government planning gets personal and stupid

Fact checking ACT planning

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

ACT Government northside planning mess

When it comes to the future travel for southside residents coming north across the lake, things are looking grim thanks to the tram follies about to be played out by the ACT government.

Continue reading ACT Government northside planning mess

Public Art in Canberra

When “Seven Days” columnist Ian Meikle remarked in “CityNews” on July 19 that the ACT Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Economy and Gender and Economic Equality is seeking submissions to its inquiry into memorialisation through public commemoration, it did raise an issue or two.

Continue reading Public Art in Canberra

The good, the bad and too much ugly!

This city is fairly ordinary when it comes to public architecture. There are a few exceptions, often Federal buildings and those on the ANU, but not many.

Continue reading The good, the bad and too much ugly!

ACT Government destroys Northbourne Ave

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

ACT Government planning a lost cause

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 Government misplaced spending priorities

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?

Continue reading ACT Government misplaced spending priorities

National Capital Authority specializes in being patronising

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

ACT Government fails on social housing

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

ACT Government and more fibs

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

Another failure of the ACT Greens

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

ACT Government fails own climate actions

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

ACT Government and Open Spaces

Why don’t they get open spaces

With Canberra being a “city in a landscape”, why does the ACT government not understand the value of landscape and open spaces?

Continue reading ACT Government and Open Spaces

Cherry picking your values 2

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

Cherry picking your values

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

ACT planning directorate past its use-by-date

The ACT Government’s planning directorate has an impenetrable structure that reminds me of the “Star Wars” concept – the Borg Hive – called The Collective.

Continue reading ACT planning directorate past its use-by-date

ACT Government lacks design leadership

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

ACT Government Design Panel a disaster

the failure of the National Capital Design Review Panel

Along with the wish the government would look after the city’s landscapes, its greenery and its open spaces, a common frustration is that the government does not understand design and does little to encourage good architecture.

Continue reading ACT Government Design Panel a disaster

ACT City Renewal Authority

An authority being a  waste of space

The ACT’s City Renewal Authority, a 2016 bright idea from Andrew Barr, is something the people of Canberra did not ask for and is spending a lot of taxpayers’ money in one place – a selected part of central Canberra.

Continue reading ACT City Renewal Authority

ACT Greens not so green

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

ACT Government Stupidity Halted

ACT Greens save park from bulldozers

While the October ACT election returned a new version of the Labor/Greens coalition, this result was not because it was respected.

Continue reading ACT Government Stupidity Halted

What happens in Sydney – happens here

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

over-development in Woden

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 Supermarket approved

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

Yes Minister! rules ACT Government

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

National Capital Authority failures

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

Canberra community groups have fun

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

Margaret Timson Park Belconnen

ACT Government fails on parks again

The last couple of years has been bad news for parks in Canberra.

Continue reading Margaret Timson Park Belconnen

ACT Government score card

They are not doing well!

With the ACT Labor/Greens coalition in place until October 2024, it’s a good time to start reporting on how it’s performing.

Continue reading ACT Government score card

ACT Government ignores Commonwealth Park

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

ACT Government and public sculpture

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

ACT Government and its electorate

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

Canberra’s missing arts centres

ACT Government failure on culture

In 2015, the now disbanded Land Development Agency announced the follow up to its 2011 master plan with the go-ahead for the Kingston Arts Precinct.

Continue reading Canberra’s missing arts centres

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.

Continue reading Ainslie residents and local park rezoning

A flawed plan gets the nod

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

Chris Steel works hard to lose 2020 election

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

ACT Government and West Basin

More spin from the City Renewal Authority

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!

Continue reading ACT Government and West Basin

Waste Facilities to wreck Fyshwick

ISCCC call to arms!

The Inner South Canberra Community Council has published a “Call To Arms” to highlight what is going on in Fyshwick with developments for major waste-disposal activities.

Continue reading Waste Facilities to wreck Fyshwick

2020 ACT Elections

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

West Basin and ACT Government spin

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

Vote for Greenery

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

Signage wars in Kingston

More about Geocon in Kingston

When the spin doctors for Geocon published the proposal for an eight-storey tower in the middle of Kingston (where two is the norm and three/four nearby), the locals were not happy.

Continue reading Signage wars in Kingston

ACT Government land deals

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

More about Geocon, Purdon and Kingston

Before the last election there were promises of how planning was to be made easier to understand (the Ponton planning review that did not happen), planning was to be more people focussed (pigs might fly first), and new agencies to ensure good design and better urban environments (it has got worse).

Continue reading More about Geocon, Purdon and Kingston

Argyle Housing and the Dickson Land Swap

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

ACT politician almost gets it right

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

Complexities of the ACT Murrumbidgee electorate

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

Mistake being polite with ACT Government

Time to stop being polite to rude people

Artwork: Stephen Harrison

Some of us sit at desks writing loads of stuff to bring about change while the barbarous politicians and bureaucrats just keep on doing what they do best – wreck the joint!

Continue reading Mistake being polite with ACT Government

ACT Greens fail to be green

 

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

NCA and inequity in decisions

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

NCA takes away community horse paddocks

Secretive land swap with ACT Government

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.

Continue reading NCA takes away community horse paddocks

ACT Government avoid facts on West Basin

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

ACT opposition remains a mystery

What do the ACT Liberals stand for?

It’s not often that I find myself agreeing with Andrew Barr. When he made that statement about Alistair Coe’s comments last week, I thought he was spot on.

Continue reading ACT opposition remains a mystery

ACT Government to trash 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

ACT Government attack on Dickson residents

Yvette Berry continues her Boris Johnson moments

As the COVID-19 crisis took hold and people bunkered down, residents hoped for less stupid things by the ACT Planning Directorate.

Continue reading ACT Government attack on Dickson residents

ACT Government messes with Gungahlin

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

ACT Government allows excessive noise

ACT Government fails to listen about noise

Many Canberrans have the luxury of living in established suburbs and until recently had some confidence that the nature of the suburb probably would not change radically during their lifetimes.

Continue reading ACT Government allows excessive noise

The degradation of Canberra by the ACT Government

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