Letters / Time to fix the ugly development eyesores

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“The Canberra Times”, October 7, 1964.

IN 1964 all Canberra suburbs were provided with an annual hard rubbish pick up service. 

While the ACT government scurries around to deliver another such arrangement over the next five years to help, in part, improve aspects of the visual amenity of our city, it does little to counteract the impacts on neighbourhoods and visitors of the development-site eyesores that spring up across the city, often for years on end (“16 years on, is this Canberra’s worse building mess?” Paul Costigan, CN, September 4) .

Residents of Banks will soon be among the first to use the new annual bulky household waste collection service, but they, like many Canberrans, are still forced to live with an unacceptable degree of local development ugliness that should be easily preventable. 

Sites are usually razed quickly to the ground, left empty to collect rubbish, weeds and sometimes languishing building work, the sight of which becomes more apparent over time as cheap and inadequate fencing deteriorates into a permanent vista of tattiness and is never replaced or improved.

Multiple suburbs have been paying in many ways for these visual blots on the urban landscape for far too long. Now more sites are being left to moulder away, including down the kilometres-long strip whose intensive renewal is justified as a means of creating a transformative and appealing gateway to the national capital. 

We already face up to three decades of transitional urban ugliness which now may be exacerbated by a slow-down in residential densification and construction. 

It would therefore help to have renewal sites, at all stages of development, well-cordoned off with high, good-quality screening, with relevant government and developer contact details attached. Over the life of a site, a program of regular monitoring and maintenance of such temporary infrastructure and any vestiges left of surrounding landscaping would help to improve the liveability of and pride in the surrounding areas.

Sue Dyer, Downer

Violating dogs’ rights

Honey on the Black Stump in Blackall, Queensland… does this little girl look vicious to you?

THE other day I got a call from a friend on the other side of town. The “Dog Gestapo” were up on Hawker Ridge bush tracks doling out fines to people with dogs off leads.

Who are these heartless bastards?

This law is madness. It’s a violation of dog rights.

I can tell you one little girl who will vote in favour of a Dog Rights Council that determines which dogs are eligible to walk off lead and which ones aren’t. This girl is now eight years old and has rarely walked with a lead on, particularly on the paths and ovals near our home in Stirling.

Repeal this new dog rights infringement law – at least for dogs who can prove they can behave themselves off the leash and are not a dangerous breed.

Don’t Labor Members of the ACT Assembly own dogs? Do they know nothing about them?

Sure, there should be laws against dangerous breeds in suburban areas. That’s the main problem. Not dogs like our Honey walking around sniffing, taking an interest in what’s going on and doing wees.

Dogs need the freedom to walk freely on our paths under the supervision of their owners and run on our parks and ovals without the “Dog Gestapo” handing out fines. Dogs need their freedom just as much as humans.

There should be laws against people locking dangerous breeds up all day, on their own and never taking them for a walk. Some breeds should be banned within the city limits.

Does this little girl look vicious to you? Here she is on the Black Stump in Blackall, Queensland; a real mean bastard, I don’t think!

John Miller, Stirling

Unit life is going backwards

OVER the last 25 years or so, living conditions in new, multiple-dwelling developments have drifted back towards the wretchedness of the Industrial Revolution. 

And that’s despite government attempts to prevent that with “codes” (that developers have simply watered down). 

Having encouraged widespread landlord investment, those developers tell us we must accept lower living conditions here. No, to that! 

We need new rules across Australia for: improved aspect ratios (longer external walls) for all forms of multiple dwellings; improved cross ventilation; solar access for all units (not just a percentage as now); improved privacy and overlooking arrangements; all bedrooms or sleeping areas to have windows; discrete in-unit entry areas; improved acoustic and vibration measures; increased common landscaped areas on natural ground (not over underground car parks); mandated, larger than at present, minimum living-dining areas; no mechanical equipment on balconies unless they’re larger than a certain floor area and do not impede outlooks; natural light for all common access areas; no lifts directly adjoining units; and more. 

The currently highly protected “market” will have to adjust.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah 

Development of West Basin

COLUMNIST Paul Costigan has a go at author Tom Greenwell for daring to suggest that Walter Burley Griffin’s plans supported the idea of some development at West Basin. 

Had he troubled to look at Griffin’s plan accompanying his article, he would have seen development sites both sides of Commonwealth Avenue down towards the lakeshore, a road system including a circular curved lakeshore “boulevard” and buildings extending around to Acton Peninsula.

His suggestion that the West Basin foreshore is “natural” with “soft edges” is also wide of the truth. In fact, most of the northern foreshore to East, Central and West Basins is hard edged, with masonry retaining walls. 

Griffin’s plans show curvilinear formed lake edges with adjacent boulevards around the three basins.

Richard Johnston, Kingston

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