Letters: Too early for ‘city edge’ sprawl

I AGREE with Catherine Carter (CN, March 13) that high-density residential buildings should be built in the Canberra CBD and town centre areas, but why in the “city edge” when much of the CBD is still zero to four storeys?

It is much too early to sprawl the CBD into the residential areas of Braddon and Reid when there is so much potential to redevelop and revitalise the existing CBD. Why not redevelop Garema Place’s surroundings to high-rise?

Most residents in and around the ABC Flats site in Reid were happy with the original master plans for the area to be redeveloped to “RZ5 High Density Multi-Unit Residential Code”. The first proposal was a maximum of 10 storeys stepping down to three and public consultation recommended this be reduced to eight storeys (which was still two storeys higher than RZ5 allows).

ACTPLA responded to this consultation by not lowering but increasing the maximum height to 15 storeys stepping down to six storeys, by using a shocking planning mechanism called a Precinct Code that overrides all other planning codes.

There was no agreement at the recent DV308 ABC Flats hearings of the Legislative Assembly Planning and Environment Committee, with the Liberals wanting the RZ4/RZ5 planning code applied and Labor wanting the Precinct Code.

The ABC redevelopment eliminates three public playgrounds, five public mini-parks, two public barbecue facilities and 190 mature trees, replacing these with restricted access “rooftop gardens”. Would you send your child in an elevator to play on a rooftop garden?

How many people realise that all the beautiful trees on the eastern side of Cooyong Street are to be removed for hundreds of metres?

Does Catherine know the Glebe Park playground will be in a winter morning solar shadow from this redevelopment?

Buildings need to be be “human scale” for comfortable living. Is Paris so bad?

Recent redevelopments in Canberra being built or planned to limits of six to eight storeys include along Northbourne Avenue, Constitution Avenue, the old Downer Primary site, the old CSIRO site, the old RSL HQ site, Construction House, the old Braddon Rugby Club site, the old Braddon commercial area revitalisation etcetera. All of these redevelopments are being built in sympathy with their existing neighbours. The surroundings of the ABC Flats site are Glebe Park, the Canberra Centre (four storeys), Argyle Square Apartments (three storeys), Gorman House (two storeys), Braddon detached houses (one storey) and St Patricks church (one storey).

We only want similar consideration. Surely RZ5 High Density Multi-Unit Residential is enough.

Chris Emery, Argyle Square Apartments, Reid

Who’d cross the road?

WHILE lobbyists are obliged to gild the lily, one can at least expect logic in their communications. Can Catherine Carter (CN, March 12) explain why anyone would wish to cross “a true ring road” to access the “potential” (but unlikely) “laneway restaurants and inviting urban spaces” in the proposed ABC development when Garema Place is shunned and moribund?

Elizabeth d’Abbs, via email

Significant moment for animals

I MUST admit to having a chuckle at Mark Parton’s article (“St Shane of the Imaginary Animals”, CN, March 6), which had a go at me and the Greens for passing laws to ban factory farming of “imaginary animals” in the ACT.

Mark said the legislation won’t make any difference and it’s akin to banning the trade in “unicorn horns”. On the contrary, it’s a significant moment for the ACT and the national animal welfare debate.

Unlike unicorns, chooks and pigs aren’t mythological creatures. There are literally millions of them living in factory farm conditions in Australia. As recently as 18 months ago, there were tens of thousands of cage hens farmed in the ACT. The facility has started refurbishing into a barn facility – not ideal, but better. We had nothing to prevent another cage farm from establishing, so the new laws have locked the door to cage hen farming in the ACT.

The situation is similar for intensive pig farming. It doesn’t happen here, but there’s always been a risk. Just across the border in NSW there are thousands of factory farmed pigs – the closest is in Murrumbateman. But again, our new laws have locked the door to this practice.

Our actions have made national and international news and I’ve already had enquiries from other jurisdictions who want to use our laws as a model.

Not all of our laws and policies need to be reactive. It’s sometimes important to take action against potential or emerging problems.

So, Parto, let me know if you do uncover some cruel trade in “unicorn horns” in Australia. I’ll try to do something about it before it reaches our fair city. In the meantime, I hope Canberrans celebrate the positive change we’ve made.

Shane Rattenbury, ACT Greens Member for Molonglo and

Minister for Territory and Municipal Services


The growing deficit of drugs

THE many-headed drug maintenance policy has again emerged from its lair-like Hydra. The various heads thrash around in our community – put needles in our prison; over-crowd Alexander Maconochie Centre; blame the guards; deliver drugs by footballs or tennis balls; blame the grog not the illegal drugs; easing of drug laws etcetera.

Recently, I read an article blunt and to the point. It commented on the narcotisation of cultures, the normalisation of exploitation and the violent intimidation into silence of the majority. These are a clarion call never to see drug use as a “human right” and fuelled with even more destructive power from legalisation.

Recently released statistics shocked NSW police (“Daily Telegraph”, January 6) revealing that, in that State, almost five times more people are being caught driving under the influence of illegal drugs than alcohol. The harms and costs to human health and family from drug use is a growing deficit no economy can sustain – including the ACT.

Colliss Parrett, Barton


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