News location:

Canberra Today 17°/19° | Thursday, January 20, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

A world-class heat island in the making!

48 Dumaresq Street in Dickson… The two buildings are surrounded by concrete, a large area of artificial grass with a thin line of shrubs along the back fence, a few small things in between the buildings and a small patch of lawn out front.

“Canberra Matters” columnist PAUL COSTIGAN has come across a development application by ACT Housing that flies in the face of everything the ACT government has announced it is doing to bring back the biodiversity and greenery in the suburbs.

ONE constant theme of residents is the ad hoc planning regimes that enable knock-down rebuilds in established suburbs resulting in a loss of trees, greenery and biodiversity.

Paul Costigan.

There have been numerous announcements and worthy sounding policies that the ACT Greens and Labor fall back on whenever they are challenged about the ongoing reduction in greenery and the subsequent destruction of the city’s precious biodiversity. Keep that in mind as I tell this story.

Walking past an empty block of land at 48 Dumaresq Street in Dickson, I noticed that there was a development application (DA) sign. The house was demolished a couple of years ago and not a lot has happened since.

Being curious, I went online later to see if this was to be yet another supersized double storey mansion – these are now common in the inner suburbs.

I was wrong. The plan is for two residential buildings, single storey with the front one being two bedrooms and the rear being three bedrooms. All good so far even though there was not a lot to indicate anything close to real sustainability measures and at best – maybe even passive housing.

Then I came upon the landscape plan. Absolutely horrible! There is no way that the developer was hoping to get approval for this.

The two buildings are surrounded by concrete, a large area of artificial grass with a thin line of shrubs along the back fence, a few small things in between the buildings and a small patch of lawn out front.

After all that the government has said about what developers should be doing, this developer has side-stepped any aspiration to build in greenery, to create shade, to have porous surface areas (not solid concrete) and to have ample room for residents to establish gardens.

Have we sunk so low that developers are pushing stuff through that ignores every skerrick of policy intention by the ACT Labor/Greens coalition government? This is a world-class example of a heat island in the making.

If this DA was to be brought to the attention of the usual suspects, being the local members Shane Rattenbury and Rebecca Vassarotti (also Environment Minister), the predicted response would be that they would explain (so politely) that they could not intervene as this application is now subject to a decision by the “independent” ACT Planning Authority. 

They never let facts get in their way when they make that statement – given that the planning authority is one person – the ACT chief planner – who answers to several ministers – and is in no way independent.

However, there is one major difference with this DA that will allow these fence-sitting politicians to intervene with this appalling DA.

The “plant schedule” of the development proposed for 48 Dumaresq Street, Dickson.

The developer is ACT Housing, that is the developer is the ACT government. 

To be clear on this: The developer is the ACT government who is applying to an ACT government agency to have this thing approved. The ACT government is the elected politicians.

This DA by the ACT government, and therefore by the government politicians, flies in the face of everything the ACT government has announced they are doing to bring back the biodiversity and greenery in the suburbs.

So, here’s the challenge. The request. 

Someone from within this ACT Labor/Greens coalition needs to have this DA withdrawn and completely redesigned to address the many climate and humane standards we now expect the government to deliver to those it assists into houses.

The future residents of these two houses should be treated with respect. This DA should be withdrawn immediately.



Who can be trusted?

In a world of spin and confusion, there’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in Canberra.

If you trust our work online and want to enforce the power of independent voices, I invite you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support is invested back into our journalism to help keep strong and free.

Become a supporter

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Paul Costigan

Paul Costigan

Share this

5 Responses to A world-class heat island in the making!

Hamba says: December 10, 2021 at 11:02 am

At some point, we just need to accept that neither ACT Labor nor the Greens believe their own rhetoric. Over the course of five elections, they’ve been assured by voters (many of whom are just passing through Canberra and couldn’t care less about long-term liveability) that they can say/do anything they want and face no real consequences.

Jane says: December 10, 2021 at 11:32 am

I couldn’t agree more with you Paul, and with Hamba’s comment also. The ALP/Greens government is of the “we’ll do what we like, even if it goes against everything we say we stand for” ilk. This example of inappropriate development, the slow tram to Woden, etc, etc, the list goes on.

Meg says: December 10, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Thank you Paul Costigan for your vigilance in keeping the planning authorities to task, we the public are exhausted, despondent and can no longer make any impact with getting them to actually hear the issues, oh yes they listen, but have no capacity to understand the anguish they cause us rate payers and have their own agenda. I am about to respond to a third reconsideration DA202037978 and I think it is a waste of my time and energy again. Once again it is over the holiday period, I give in and think I will enjoy my holidays instead. We are defeated 😞

Christie says: December 12, 2021 at 11:11 am

This development will provide two humble homes for disabled families who are currently on the very long waiting list. The ACT government has many objectives to juggle, not just those seen through the picture windows of a NIMBY’s comfortable home. Stopping this development doesn’t ‘treat the future residents with respect’, it keeps them in poverty and homelessness. Let’s talk about hypocrisy. The cropped image tells one story, but a Google streetview of 48 Dumeresq St shows the truth. This is a beautiful tree-lined avenue, with a huge tree canopy, not a heat island. Large trees in backyards can be a problem. Large street trees in the verge are the best way for the government to provide a green city with housing for everyone – not just the privileged few.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I am informed that Christie Hartfiel is the architect for this design. This was not disclosed in her comment at the time it was freely published by “CityNews’.


Leave a Reply

Related Posts


How fairly has Australia advanced?

The contention around Australia Day grows with each passing year and now, says NICK OVERALL, more than ever, it’s important to ask the question, what is the history of Australia Day and does it have a future?

Follow us on Instagram @canberracitynews