Dickson Residents Group

Update from Jane Goffman

Here’s Jane’s January 31 2018 update on goings on with planning and developments around Dickson:

Happy New Year from Kernot Street!

Just a quick overview to bring everyone up to speed with the big things afoot in our patch, and seek your help with lodging comments by deadlines and attending the government’s workshops.

I’ve stepped down from NCCC to focus on local issues this year, so it’s important that we keep that channel open and let NCCC’s Committee members know about things that come up.

We may disagree with them from time to time but they’re in a strong position to put community views forward even if they haven’t heard from anyone.

Ensuring they reflect a range of views and can confidently adopt a position depends on groups like ours feeding material into them.

1:  Coles + DOMA

As many of you know, there’s been no word from the Tribunal since the marathon hearing ended on 23 March 2017.

That has implications and ramifications, but until a decision is released it’s all pure speculation. We have copies of the transcripts and I need to doublecheck whether we can make those publicly available, because they are incredibly damaging to the government and the Heritage Council.


2:  Dickson Parklands (Section 72) and rezoning for future public housing

The Planning Minister has officially launched a community engagement process for the whole of the Parklands (Section 72), all of which is zoned CZ6 Leisure and Accommodation.

The entire precinct has a two storey height limit and expressly prohibits residential use, consistent with the 2003 Dickson Neighbourhood Plan and 2012 Dickson Master Plan that set it aside as a Community and Recreation Precinct.

The Suburban Land Agency is the new body that’s replaced the LDA, and they have secured leases over 3 adjoining blocks that make up 25% of the precinct through a combination of land swaps and payments:

  • Block 25 = the old Downer Club and Observatory that burned down in 2010,
  • Block 22 = the Salvation Army collection centre that burnt last year, and
  • Block 6 = the CFMEU’s offices and training centre next to the ANCA Studios.

All together the combined landholding totals 21,732 m2 which is capable of supporting around 220 units if the 2 storey height limit is respected, more depending on what it’s changed to.

Between early Feb and 16 March the Planning Directorate will be in charge of a second engagement process.

As many of you would remember, the community was corralled in 2014 by the LDA and Community Services Directorate with the evident intention of rezoning and releasing 2 or 3 blocks for mixed use commercial with medium density residential.

That process stalled, and in the final days of the election the Labor Party announced that a Common Ground project would be built in Dickson.

Common Ground is the name of a 6 storey project in Gungahlin.

The developer is Argyle Housing, and they build and operate public housing on an outsourced basis as a nonprofit in 16 NSW Council areas and the ACT.

For the last few years they’ve also run Ainslie Village. When I last researched them news reports showed that they’d received over $400,000 per unit in federal and ACT funds to build 40 one-bedroom units in Common Ground, so their business model is quite a profitable one.

They also employ staff, so some of that money would go to housing management and running programs. They’ve teamed up with Northside Community Service, who are enthusiastic about the scheme.

The current engagement is being run along very similar lines to the Haig Park Master Plan process, but in our case is being called a Precinct Plan.

At the end of March they’ll release a report. They’ve already begun inviting input online via https://yoursay.act.gov.au/dickson-section-72 where there’s a fairly clumsy interactive map that anyone can drop ideas and comments onto and has a crude voting system where supposed strangers post likes and dislikes.

It’s a very easily rorted process unfortunately. I’d encourage you to set aside 15 minutes to have a look at it and attempt to use it, and go back again a few days later and see what’s been added.

When I first went on immediately after the thing had been launched, the map had already been sprinkled with ideas and comments that seemed suspiciously like the government’s aims.

While it’s easy to be cynical about planning lately and feel disengaged, this round of engagement is almost certainly going to result in a rezoning and an estate development plan by developers within the next 18 months so unless we actually get involved and represent the community’s interests forcefully and effectively, we will without a shadow of a doubt be left behind.

Please see the attached position statement and get back to me if you’re able to front up to sessions in the next 6 weeks and draft up material or send in comments. I’m going to be flat out so the more help the better.


3: Four new buildings between Challis & Northbourne on the old Motor Registry site (+ DOMA)

The deadlines for comments have been extended, to Mon 12 Feb on the 2 x 8-storey residential buildings at the northern end of the site and Thu 15 Feb for the 6 & 8 storey pair of commercial buildings with serviced apartments at the southern end closest to the new bus interchange and light rail station.

Please click here for the link to the development applications – and the postings I’ve put up on the Facebook page I use to share information and keep a forum alive

I’ve had a very quick look at the plans but don’t have time to spend long going over these. They’re both major projects and would take me days to look at carefully.

From what I can tell, DOMA’s smoothed the way for approvals on the 2 pairs of buildings and the biggest issues will be the blandness of the exteriors and the impacts that additional traffic and mix of traffic types will have on the surrounding road system.

The critical concern is safe movement for pedestrians and cyclists getting over to Northbourne and across to Lyneham.

The child care centre has no outdoor play space and dropping off or picking up a child via a lift they share with serviced apartments upstairs is complicated, and will create some extra chaos, but if people choose to send their kid there then at some level that’s their problem.

The bigger picture issue is the urgent need for a publicly accessible multi-storey carpark in the group centre, and where that should be located.

It may make sense to run underground passages from there to the interchange if the surface roads are going to be choked, as is common in many other cities.

There are only a few spots where it could go, but if it’s to support the shopping centre’s retail core it has to be convenient to get in and out of and practical for making quick trips to the sorts of services people typically combine into a trip (ie. post office, library, health services, cafes and shops).

It also has to be affordable, because many people will use residential streets to avoid paying to park if they can, and will leave their cars longer because they don’t have a meter running.

4:  Dickson on Northbourne – the redeveloped public housing site that was sold off to the Art Group

There have been several sessions organised by the developer at the Pavilion Hotel but no DA lodged yet. This is likely to crop up soon and will involve high traffic flows through the western part of Dickson.


5:  Heritage walks from Dickson Library to Downer shops

I organised and ran these under the NCCC’s banner for the first time last year and they got a good response, so I’m hoping to do them again if I can manage it.

They would run during the Heritage festival (mid to late April). If others can help, or would like to find out more, please get in touch. I’m particularly interested in finding out more about the Indigenous groups who used this area before it became grazing land in Robert Campbell’s 1830s grant, because the original creek lines that ran through this area are likely to have been important sources of supplies and cross-country wayfinding.

I’m also interested in the old aerodrome that occupied some of the playing fields and where that landing strip would have been in the 1920s, and which CSIRO experiments were being run on which paddocks in the old Dickson Experiment Station.


That covers the main stuff that I know of at this point.

I’m going to be away from mid May to late July travelling in North America and Alaska, so I’d like to suggest that we form a working group to track and make submissions re the Parklands community precinct (Section 72) because this is likely to be the key priority.

The Downer community will also be heavily impacted by what ultimately happens here, and upstream from us it affects Hackett and Watson.

If you can talk to your neighbours and help other people find out more about the engagement, the more input the better.

The next NCCC meeting will be held on Wed 21 Feb at 7.30pm so it would be a big help if we could send a large contingent to that. Please put it in your diary now.

Best wishes

Jane Goffman

Dickson Residents Group convenor


m: 0468 649 640



Please comment (silly stuff will be trashed)- and use this to make contact - personal contact messages will not appear publicily

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *