Letters / No more of the same, please 

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Reader SUE DYER, of Downer, is pining for better planning outcomes, citing the pre-election promises 

IN the pre-election candidates’ forums, all ACT main parties finally acknowledged the existence of considerable community angst about the poor and lopsided management of the city’s planning and design processes.

They also acknowledged the numerous calls for significant, visible and timely improvements to residential settings and their public surroundings, including facilities provision and real action needed to counter climate-change impacts across our suburbs.   

Yet, on the whole, they shied away from specific commitments and goals that would avoid systemic planning debacles and unbalanced land use repercussions over the next four years (“Talking to voters happens only during elections!”, Paul Costigan, CN, November 4).   

The new Labor/Greens agreement now reflects both parties’ selective election patter on planning, by relying on the belief that entrenched development, urban densification and renewal problems can be overcome, somewhat magically, by “improving community consultation and involvement”.  

Yet the Chief Minister, when announcing the new ministry, remarked that achieving “consensus was impossible” in relation to planning. Does this suggest that he prefers not to face up to the deep-rooted causes of community disquiet?  

Will significant planning changes and public betterment outcomes not be allowed to emerge despite having two ministers burrow into the morass of planning-related deficits, power-plays and poor information sharing that has mounted up for far too long?  

And what outcomes might the government and its advisers already have in mind for the ongoing review of the Territory Plan, which is also touted as a handy planning solution in the new agreement? 

Any more demurring from ministers and time wasting by many Canberra community volunteers will only undermine the agreement’s broad planning aim of boosting “community confidence”. 

Too many are sick and tired of being left to identify planning shortfalls and to battle for sensible long-term public interest improvements that go well beyond addressing the inadequacies of the latest high-rise complex, concrete plaza, set of potted trees, new traffic bottlenecks and overdue yet still poorly designed piecemeal upgrades of some footpaths, lighting, kerbing and public use spaces.  

Yet developers have been quick to rev up the usual “consultation” mechanisms since the election. Will the new government and its authorities be willing to act in good faith by starting to ensure that even some small yet meaningful and better integrated, quality-driven planning outcomes appear “on the ground”, not in two years’ time but in the near future?  

Sue Dyer, Downer

A question of consultation

AS an office holder in a Conservation Council member organisation, I was surprised to learn from Paul Costigan (“Talking points taking over the planning debates”, CN, October 20), rather than from the Conservation Council itself, that the Council had made a submission on the proposed West Basin development.

To the best of my knowledge the submission was made without consulting with the Conservation Council’s member organisations.

Leon Arundell, Downer

Jon for Foreign Affairs

READING former ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope’s knowledgeable and insightful column in “CityNews” each week would indicate to readers that he should enter federal politics – and aspire to become the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs.

John Milne, Chapman

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