Letters / Distorting iconic names to spin development

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THE Griffins gave us a wonderful city plan that included a lake, but Lake Burley Griffin of the 1960s is not pure Griffin, nor can that ever happen.

quillOur Lake Burley Griffin is a stunning masterwork of landscape design and engineering in a functioning and attractive expression. It received the Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture Award of Landscape Excellence in 1986 and in 2001 the Award of Excellence from Engineering Australia.

The lake system was established by the NCDC in the 1960s with the best engineers and hydrologists in the nation, who undertook substantial research to achieve a lake that worked.

The resulting lake reshaped all of Griffin’s three basins, deleted the large East Lake and also deleted the Griffins’ circular retaining walls in West Basin.

For the ACT government to keep pushing “Griffin” at West Basin is deliberate damaging spin to justify taking lakebed land for development infrastructure while ignoring and insulting the outstanding work of the NCDC team.

West Basin is one area of the lake suitable for a predominantly naturalistic lake edge as it is mostly offset from the eroding force of water-flows and has been evolving with water-edge planting that assists in lessening nutrient runoff and blue-green algae growth, now exacerbated by climate warming.

Taking three hectares of lake, smothering the lake edge environment and securing the infill with a retaining wall is estimated to cost the ACT taxpayer around $34 million. The proposed tiled-concrete surfacing and lake wall edging, such as at Henry Rolland Park, provides no lake environmental treatment although it attempts a “modern” image with extravagant brass ornamentation.

Acton Park, West Basin, has the potential to be a vibrant and exciting landscape in a most strategic location and should be retained to provide public green recreation spaces as well as some concessions such as cafes or small public “institution” buildings.

Lakeshore parks such as Acton Park are needed for our children, our grandchildren and future generations’ recreation yet the spin from the planning leaders claims that the West Basin development is just a small chip off Lake Burley Griffin’s shores. What nonsense!

The West Basin development is a huge bite out of the lake that will set a damaging precedent in the comparatively small lake impoundment. How dare the government-developer alliances mine a public parkland resource for profit, particularly when they have ignored researching the aesthetic scenery, the environment, heritage and social needs as well as the increasing stress of climate change, traffic, night lights and sound blight that will ensue with the development.

In 2017 Canberra citizenry voted overwhelmingly for “the Bush Capital” as their number-plate slogan, but that does not suit at least one of Canberra’s wealthiest development teams who claim that slogan tones down ambitious projects such as theirs that they believe represent a sophisticated emerging city.

There is nothing new, progressive or sophisticated in Canberra’s high-rise, concrete-cake development – it is a Dallas-style of lumping high-rise towers that has been around in Australia for over 30 years.

By contrast the sophisticated cities of the world all appear to have a strong backbone of heritage features that are loved and protected.

The NCA set up the framework for the West Basin development 14 years ago branding the proposal with the Griffins’ name, yet in recent years have allowed yet another major Griffin vista, University Avenue, to be destroyed.

Despite rising temperature, lake pollution, excessive city development with an escalating population that needs recreation space, nothing has been done to redress the damaging West Basin development proposal.

Meanwhile the ACT Chief Minister, while basking in the glow of the light rail, boots out all attempts for heritage protection of our national significance and favours a development-or-die whatever-wherever approach to urban planning.

It is time to chuck out the distressing and damaging West Basin development proposal before we have no Griffin structure, no Bush Capital and a damaged Lake Burley Griffin.

Juliet Ramsay, Burra

The Stanhope Independents!

I THOROUGHLY agree with John Milne’s suggestion – Jon Stanhope for chief minister (CN, May 2).

However if the idea of Jon returning to the political fray meets with family opposition, there is an alternative. Form a new political party, say the Stanhope Independent Party (SIP) with Jon as the leader. The SIP then endorses two candidates (sans Jon) with sound Stanhope values to replace the sitting Greens at the next ACT Assembly election.

Assuming they achieve the balance of power, bring the Budget back into surplus and fix the many glaring shortfalls of the current regime.

James Wain, Amaroo

Coombs critique is ‘spot on’

PAUL Costigan’s critique on Coombs infrastructure (CN, May 2) was spot on.

Although Coombs Shopping Centre was established in 2014 it remains an empty monstrosity. Local residents are forced to travel to Weston Creek to buy essentials like milk or bread.

Many people in Coombs do not drive, accordingly they are forced to spend time and money on taxis and public transport to merely exist.

Only one brave business has taken the initiative to open a retail outlet at the centre; and needless to say they are doing it tough.

The ACT government which is selling crown land to developers at alarming rates doesn’t care about the infrastructure required to create dynamic communities.

As political parties and politicians increasingly act in their own self interest rather than for the people they are elected to serve; it is time for the electorate to get vocal and demand the representation and services they deserve.

Jennifer Rowe, Coombs

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