The view from Mount Ainslie. Photo: Paul Costigan

THE ACT Greens/Labor coalition government has a host of ministers who are making a mess of the planning and development of Canberra’s urban environments.

Paul Costigan.

This government is accustomed to thinking that all is well if the developer lobby and their professional groupies are happy. This cabal of ACT ministers do not possess the ability to question the short-term and skewed advice they receive from their planning and development bureaucracies.

While the attention has been on the Green/Labor coalition’s lack of empathy for the things that matter for residents, the question is where do the ACT Liberals stand on these urban issues? They are viewed as being very friendly, but as to what they could do no one knows – and a search of their online literature reveals little.  

The ACT Liberals were sent a few questions recently on their urban policies. To focus more attention on the issues, some have been listed below in the hope that the Libs and other candidates for next year’s ACT elections can address any or all of these points.

Apologies to those who may have wished other topics to have been included. But the responses to this short list will at least indicate what level of commitment there is to working with residents.

Wither West basin? Photo: Paul Costigan

So the question for candidates for next year’s ACT elections is – what is your commitment to dealing with the mess being made in Canberra’s urban planning and development? And, in particular, to these matters:

  • The 2018 Planning Strategy and its mysteriously threatening purple zones of Urban Intensification;
  • The government’s financial partnership in Ginninderry and that the later stages will result in damage to the Murrumbidgee ecology;
  • That stupid West Basin proposed suburb that overrides ecological, amenity and heritage values of this foreshore;
  • The ongoing saga of the proposed Fyshwick waste facility;
  • The ongoing tree losses across Canberra – and the associated serious loss of biodiversity;
  • The planning approvals backlog with many not being assessed fully resulting in the appeals tribunal forced to be the default planning authority;
  • The approval to remove heritage trees on Bradfield Street, Downer;
  • The City Renewal Authority’s perceived inability to deliver good architecture and landscape design on Northbourne;
  • The lack of cultural and community facilities in Woden;
  • The inappropriate takeover of parts of section 72 Dickson for housing – ignoring the need for a cultural community centre on this site;
  • The lack of good (attractive and innovative) architecture in major apartment developments;
  • The increase in Woden high rise that are reducing solar access for others;
  • The frustration of residents with the lack of real consultations on planning and that when they make submissions their feedback is ignored or misrepresented;
  • The inappropriate use of zoning results in perverse outcomes in suburbs such as Campbell where the nature of the suburb is threatened and the greenery and biodiversity is being dramatically reduced;
  • Over the last decade there have been occasions when statements on urban renewal have included disrespectful comments about Canberra’s older generations (at least those older than the chief minister);
  • When did the people of this city agree to Canberra’s skyline being full of bland box towers like so many other cities rather than being human scale with trees and landscapes being the dominant features?

Residents would like to hear from the ACT Liberals and candidates for the 2020 ACT election about how they would address this mess and the substantial changes they would seek to the planning and development processes to deliver for this city and its residents – rather than for the short-term thinking of the current government and its allies in the development industries.

A considered response may take some time – that’s fine – over to you.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor