There’s a disconnect in draft plan

IN the light of the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell’s release of the ACT draft planning strategy, people have been rightly considering the practical suggestions on how to achieve a denser Canberra with less reliance on the car.

And they have been rightly looking at whether such changes will improve, spoil or have no effect on the character of our capital.

However, assuming the draft is accepted, the Government itself has put up a number of hurdles.

Corbell, has offered a glimpse of a possible future, one where many of us can walk to our destinations, where the complete range of housing options are available and one which lowers the entire community’s environmental footprint.

But the Government, tasked with turning this glimpse into reality, has set up a range of taxes, fees and charges that act as a disincentive for those attempting to deliver the reality.

Add to that its over-reliance on land sales in the suburbs, the removal of barriers to achieving the plan will have a drastic effect on Government revenue.

For any such plan to work, a whole-of-government commitment is needed. Corbell said his team had linked it closely with the Transport for Canberra policy. Laudable, but there is still an inherent disconnect between revenue and planning, which must be resolved if this plan’s to succeed.

The Government’s heart might be in the right place with this draft, but the objectives of the revenue-collection arm of government clash with those of the planning arm, and they must be reconciled.

Catherine Carter is ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia

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