Tag Archives: Ben Ponton

Heritage and the ACT Minister

When in August last year the ACT Heritage Minister, Rebecca Vassarotti, stood aside the members of the ACT Heritage Council, the problems she outlined to justify her actions did not come as a surprise to those in the know about the recent history of this ministerially appointed body.

Continue reading Heritage and the ACT Minister

Barr & Ponton rubbish Jo Clay’s planning recommendations

Things are serious when the senior ACT Government planning bureaucrat uses interviews with selected local media to send a message to local politicians.

Continue reading Barr & Ponton rubbish Jo Clay’s planning recommendations

ACT Greenslabor policy frauds

In the weeks before Christmas, when people were trying to think positive about life, the universe and everything else, the ACT Government and developers rolled out multiple gifts of development applications and planning reform documents for people to read. These gifts were not fun stuff. Continue reading ACT Greenslabor policy frauds

ACT govt planners proposes changes to suit ACT govt planners

Self serving ACT Government planners on a crusade

The ACT Government’s planning reform stuff has been rolling along for a couple of years Continue reading ACT govt planners proposes changes to suit ACT govt planners

ACT Government sidelines climate issues

someone else does climate in the ACT

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.

Continue reading ACT Government sidelines climate issues

town cramming in the inner north

proposals to cram more into the suburbs

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.

Continue reading town cramming in the inner north

Seven star rating not quite good enough

ACT Minister brags about not much

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.

Continue reading Seven star rating not quite good enough

Making better use of community spaces

Stop sports groups selling off community space

Resident’s groups have become reluctant to respond to ABC Canberra’s call for comment on the development decisions such as those for the Ainslie Group (Ainslie Football Club).

Continue reading Making better use of community spaces

What now for the Canberra Olympic Pool?

Greenslabor planning in Canberra is a mess

With the August 30 announcement by the chief minister that the building of a new sports stadium in Civic is not feasible, what followed was the media-generated screams about this backflip – let down – bad decision. Continue reading What now for the Canberra Olympic Pool?

Winning design lost to bigger development plan

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 Greenslabor planning minister really said that?

The mess that is planning in Canberra

Residents had good reasons to be puzzled by the 16th August decision by the ACT Greenslabor Planning Minister to use his precious ‘call-in’ powers to refuse a development at the McKellar shops. The reasons given caused readers to wonder – did he really say that?

Continue reading The Greenslabor planning minister really said that?

Bewildering world of development applications

the mess that is planning in Canberra

Residents shudder when they contemplate how much of their lives has had to be allocated to dealing with development applications that, according to the government’s own rules, should not have been approved.

Continue reading Bewildering world of development applications

Developers blame selfish residents

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

ACT Government fails governance

Back in 2019 during a discussion about the preliminaries for the city’s coming planning reforms, it was suggested to the chief planner that governance needs to be central to any reforms. Continue reading ACT Government fails governance

ACT Government planning failure

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

Planning mess: where the hell are the pollies?

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?

Canberra Libs keep missing the opportunities

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.

Continue reading Canberra Libs keep missing the opportunities

The cruelty of ACT Government politicians

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

ACT Government fails on backyard greenery

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

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

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

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

the ACT tram light rail hoax

Government delivers for developers, again

Throughout history, the growth in government propaganda is linked to increasing authoritarianism. The more they lie, the more they concoct alternative facts to justify dubious actions and to distract from real intentions.

Continue reading the ACT tram light rail hoax

woden Valley Community Council issues

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

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

the trees of Ainslie don’t cast shadows!

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!

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

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

Something nasty is stirring in planning reforms

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

Christmas, trees and biodiversity

ACT Government does not get biodiversity

Wandering through Civic, there loomed ahead a shape.

Continue reading Christmas, trees and biodiversity

ACT world-class heat island in the making

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

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

Spin and ACT Demonstration House

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

Mick Gentleman passed used-by date

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

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

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 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

ACT Government and planning

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

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 Ministry of Misinformation

It is a conversation I now have repeatedly. I have it with community group members, with people at Tilley’s, at the supermarket, while meandering through Dickson or other centres, and when wandering around galleries.

Continue reading ACT Ministry of Misinformation

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 Government on Town Cramming

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

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

Watson community knows about planning

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

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 Planning learn nothing

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

ACT Government questionable housing program

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

ACT Government chops down more trees

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 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

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

ACT Government stacked boards

Board members irrelevant to Canberra

The boards of the City Renewal Authority, the National Capital Authority and the Suburban Land Agency have little connection to the everyday life of residents.

Continue reading ACT Government stacked boards

ACT Planning has to change!

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!

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

West Basin and City Renewal Authority

Reason to go for a wander

This piece is addressed to the ACT Greens & its members

Continue reading West Basin and City Renewal Authority

ACT Government stuffs up social housing

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

ACT Government and Greenery

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

ACT Government planning mess

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

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

ACT Government’s toxic planning

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

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