Costigan / Planning shock: regulators say no to developers!

“It’s a good day when announcements are made that the regulators are indeed doing their job, stopping developers going ahead with ridiculous proposals,” writes PAUL COSTIGAN

A development site at Coombs. Photo: Paul Costigan

IT is the era when attention has shifted not only on to the usual suspects in the corporate world who continuously bend the rules and ignore the laws, but also to those who are supposed to be the regulators.

Paul Costigan.

In Canberra these issues have relevance to the ACT’s planning regimes. We wonder how the various ministers oversee urban developments that continue to bend the rules and upset so many.

Residents in Coombs and Wright, within Molonglo, have definitely been subjected to some of the worst of the ACT’s planning systems. For instance, there are no consultations required for development applications for Molonglo – big thanks to the then Planning Minister Andrew Barr.

The other time-consuming and very upsetting matter is that development applications have been appearing that go beyond the specified maximum dwelling units.

Prospective Coombs/ Wright residents have checked out what was to be next door, have paid out their hard-earned dollars, have moved in and now find that monster developments are being proposed for nearby sites.

The Weston Creek Community Association wrote a very detailed letter to Yvette Berry, being Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, and copied it to the planning minister and other politicians relevant to the issues. As is the case with so many of our representatives, Yvette Berry passed these planning matters back to the planning minister.

The planning minister wrote back with one of his infamous letters that doesn’t answer the points and goes on and on about irrelevant points. They are painful to read and not very helpful for people who are trying to solve matters that potentially could seriously affect their lives.

So it is a good day when announcements are made that the regulators are indeed doing their job, stopping developers going ahead with ridiculous proposals.

So here’s the good news for the residents of Molonglo and Woden.

The ACT planning bureaucracy has issued a refusal to a developer to increase the unit numbers from 40 to 123 units (208 per cent) for a Coombs development (corner of Arthur Blakeley and Colbung). Then, hot on the heels of this news was another refusal for another developer to up the number from 44 to 212 units (382 per cent) in Coombs (corner of John Gorton and Terry Connolly).

On Wednesday (February 6), Woden Valley Community Council announced the rejection by the government for Geocon to increase the former approved height limits for its corner building in the WOVA development on Launceston/Melrose in Woden.

In all these cases the residents had to take action on worrying proposals. For the residents in Coombs, this meant that they were dealing with these matters on top of everyday things such as moving in and bringing a household together.

Meanwhile in Woden, the nearby residents had to make submissions all over again for a development that had been debated for a long time and had already been approved.

To paraphrase the Weston Creek Association from its very logically argued letter: Why are development applications that seek to exceed the agreed limits allowed to proceed past the pre-development application process when the government states that the maximum must not be exceeded?

These three refusals are good news for residents and for those who wish the planning regulator to their job. So let’s hope that these rightful actions by the regulator will be the sign of things to come and the developers learn that it is a waste of everyone’s time to even attempt to bend the rules.

And while things are being positive, maybe the planning minister’s letter writers could put something together so that the minister could get the Coombs shops open and then revisit the refusal of the licence for that kind woman who had to remove her horses and donkeys from that open space site in Holder.

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