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Canberra Today 18°/20° | Monday, January 24, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Standing up to the government ‘bully’ next door

Yass Valley… “It looks like the ACT government’s plan is to take random “bites” out of Yass Valley land when it feels it needs more land in the future,” says Bill Ginn.

“Yass Valley has been like Cuba, stuck in the 1950s timezone when farming was the most important business in the area and Yass was the centre of the universe,” writes BILL GINN.

HOW can we lower the cost of housing land in the ACT? The answer is surprisingly simple: follow Walter Burley Griffin’s “Y” plan and allow Canberra to flow in a managed manner into Yass Valley. 

Bill Ginn.

Ignoring the “Y” plan and trying to squeeze more people into a very limited space in the ACT pushes up land prices, increases the housing density and results in the dreadful uncontrolled urban sprawl over the border.

This situation is caused by a misguided policy decision many years ago to base a major part of the ACT government’s revenue stream on the sale of land. As the land supply in the ACT dries up, so will the revenue from land sales unless there is an ever-increasing value of the land that is available for sale. 

So far, the ACT government has managed to maintain the land-sale revenue stream by controlling competition from far more attractive land within easy commuting distance in Yass Valley.

Somehow the ACT government has been able to hoodwink the Yass Valley Council into thinking that there should be a five-kilometre pseudo “green belt” in Yass Valley along the border to stop far more attractive land in Yass Valley from competing with land sales in the ACT.

How the ACT government managed to exert such control over Yass Valley Council remains a mystery. Perhaps there was a deal done to supply Canberra water to Yass in return for Yass Valley Council blocking development of competing land sales that would be consistent with Walter Burley Griffin’s original “Y” plan.

It looks like the ACT government’s plan is to take random “bites” out of Yass Valley land when it feels it needs more land in the future. 

Such piecemeal approach to planning is totally inconsistent with good planning and leads to urban sprawl that, in the long run, will turn Yass Valley into a large urban slum dotted with industry that the ACT government doesn’t want in its backyard.

Canberra is surprisingly well planned, so why is the ACT government not helping the Yass Valley Council implement Walter Burley Griffin’s “Y” plan in a manner that will be beneficial to the whole community?

The ACT government “vision” statement doesn’t mention integration with Yass Valley and the Yass Valley Council. The council’s vision appears to be based on looking north to the rural local government areas of Lachlan and Goulburn-Mulwaree.

Yass Valley has been like Cuba, stuck in the 1950s timezone when farming was the most important business in the area and Yass was the centre of the universe. 

We need Yass Valley councillors who won’t accept being trampled on by the ACT government and who can envisage a prosperous and highly desirable place to live that is the result of capitalising on being on the doorstep of the nation’s capital. 

A prosperous vision for the Canberra-Yass Valley area would be based on Walter Burley Griffin’s “Y” Plan. 

Under that plan, there would be a high-speed rail link from Canberra to Yass and carefully managed decreasing density urban and semi-rural development towards Yass. 

That would make a huge difference to the prosperity, landcare and environmental management of Yass Valley.

A high-speed Canberra-Yass rail link route already exists on the maps. It would bring significant economic, social and environmental benefits to the people of Yass Valley and add a major improvement to the transport infrastructure for Canberra. 

We need to get our goods and people off the roads and on to more environmentally sustainable efficient transport services such as rail.

It is not clear whether the air travel will return to its pre-covid level, but if it does then it won’t be too long before Canberra’s airport will be saturated and will need to be moved to a new location that allows better runways and facilities. 

The Yass area is a logical place to put a new international airport for the nation’s capital. There is sufficient land and open space to have more than one runway direction, longer runways than at Fairburn, and a 24-hour operation. 

A new airport would justify the new high-speed rail link, vastly improved Barton Highway and most importantly, fresh drinkable Canberra water for Yass.

Both sides of the fence between Yass Valley and the ACT need to start looking at the future benefits of managed implementation of Walter Burley Griffin’s “Y” plan. 

The outcome of the December 4 council elections is very important to the future of land prices and the availability of affordable alternative living to the current increasingly expensive high-density housing offered by the ACT government. 

Let us hope the people of Yass Valley elect councillors with the vision to see the benefits of well-planned development and who can stand up to the “bully” next door.

Bill Ginn’s family has farmed near Sutton since the 1850s. He has worked and lived in multiple countries as a software engineer, international airline captain, university lecturer and community facilitator. He is a Yass Valley Council candidate.

 

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One Response to Standing up to the government ‘bully’ next door

Watts says: November 30, 2021 at 11:29 am

As far as I can tell, notwithstanding the early planning for a railway line from Civic to Yass, the actual Y-Plan was formulated in the 1960s because post-WWII Canberra needed more space than what was envisaged by Walter Burley Griffin’s vision of Canberra’s inner-north and inner-south, centred around a grand lake.

(This is why anyone who claims the ACT Government’s all-stop tram services between town centres is simply a realisation of WBG’s vision of Canberra are 100% incorrect; it is simply fraudulent to promulgate that lie.)

The upper ‘points’ of the Federal Government’s Y-Plan were meant to extend into NSW territory, towards Yass and Goulburn, yet the scale of the undertaking was paired back when then-NSW Premier Askin refused to shift the NSW/ACT border. At that point, the vision was never abandoned by certain planners, and the practical implementation of the full plan was kicked down the road for a few decades.

Now, at a time when Canberra’s urban sprawl has reached the border we see, rather than any attempt to resurrect the full scale of the Y-Plan, it is dead. It was unceremoniously dumped by the ACT Government a few years ago. The vision of radial arterial roads connecting town centres within the “Bush Capital” has been replaced by the notion of high density urban infill; a literal blot on the landscape, albeit a large one!

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