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Canberra Today 3°/5° | Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

More to crush in as Woden’s town cramming continues

The proposed look for the Hellenic Club in Woden.

“Canberra Matters” columnist PAUL COSTIGAN reports on two presentations to the Woden Valley Community Council – one from the plaza owners and the other by the Hellenic Club. “There was little to get excited about,” he says.

THERE are architecture tours of the city of Chicago conducted (when it is not frozen over in winter) to admire the wonders of design incorporated into the city towers. It would be doubtful that there would ever be architecture tours of Woden’s town-centre towers. 

Paul Costigan.

This southside Canberra centre will be subject to tours to view the detrimental effects of town cramming. Tourists will be informed of the missed opportunities and the soul-destroying decisions by the Barr government.

Much will be made of the lack of good architecture and planning vision. A lot will be made of how Greens and Labor ACT politicians encouraged the developers to let rip with whatever was good enough for the laissez-faire, ad hoc approach by the government’s planning directorate.

Two presentations were made to the Woden Valley Community Council on Wednesday, April 6. One from the plaza owners and the other by the Hellenic Club. 

Both presentations were early concepts. Both will sit well with the forest of towers in place and planned for the Woden area. There was little to get excited about.

One question of the new plaza concepts was that it did not address the urgency of the issues identified in the reports by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 

A seemingly fair enough question except that in this city the ACT Greens continue to enable a climate-destroying approach to urban development – especially through its own ACT Housing urban development program. So why should the private sector do anything different?

The Hellenic Club concepts will have pleased the many who use the club and wish to have access to their own mall-like eateries. The images of the buildings presented (top image here) are more of the same – another tower or two with another hotel. 

Those presenting failed to explain how their proposed buildings will be dealing with climate-change issues. That’s fine with the city’s planners.

The Woden Valley Community Council knows that this town cramming, lack of good architectural and landscape design and the absence of appropriate community amenities is as a result of the 2015 Woden Master Plan – as put in place by the previous Land Development Authority. 

This plan is about encouraging development and town cramming at the expense of urban amenity. The community council keeps looking to their local politicians to take up the challenge to have the master plan revised to address community and cultural facilities as well as the provision of green open spaces.

This is where things really go wrong every time they ask these questions. The locally government politicians are loyal to their parties first and, secondly, loyal to the agendas of their cosy joint agreements. The aspirations of the residents rarely rate any serious attention by ACT Greens and Labor politicians – except when they get to spruik worthy words when those annoying elections roll around again.

This lack of interest in residents was on show again at this Woden meeting. When questioned about what she could do about the faults in the master plan, ACT Labor’s Marisa Paterson stated that she was not able to do much. The fact that she is in government seems to have escaped her. 

The Woden Community Council is very frustrated that, after years of submissions and polite advocacy, they cannot get through to these party loyalists. People were left wondering what do these well-paid politicians do all day?

As with other areas of Canberra, this ACT Greens Labor coalition states that it is committed to climate policies yet the evidence from what is happening to the Woden town centre and the city’s suburbs speaks volumes that this is all talk – and not much else.

As for good 21st century architecture and great landscapes, they are very much treated with tokenism by this Greens Labor cohort of politicians. 

The desire for good design and real urban planning should be the impetus for the Woden community to think about alternative candidates for future ACT elections.

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Paul Costigan

Paul Costigan

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2 Responses to More to crush in as Woden’s town cramming continues

Colin Smeal says: April 17, 2022 at 3:29 pm

I really struggle to understand how these local pollies can possibly think all these ugly high rise developments are somehow a benefit to the community; are they blind? Someone, somewhere in the process must be getting a brown paper envelope. That may sound fancifully harsh but I really can’t find any other logical explanation for the destruction that’s being actively encouraged.

FutureSlumWoden? says: April 18, 2022 at 7:28 pm

What is the planned population for Phillip in 2, 5, 10 years? Although how it can be ‘planned’ is beyond comprehension when DA approvals are regularly being successfully amended by developers to cram even more apartments, people and vehicles into Phillip.

And how does the Woden Master Plan address this population boom?

Where’s the infrastructure planning? Childcare, schools, hospital, healthcare, police & emergency services, parking (public especially), transport, solar power, batteries, charging stations, parks, playgrounds, nature reserves, exercise areas & facilities, recreational facilities, bike paths, community facilities, aged care, pet exercise areas, restaurants, cafes, shopping, etc. etc. etc.

Police and emergency services seem to already be at capacity. There’s already a crime wave across the Phillip area that’s extending into surrounding suburbs. You just need to look at the neighbourhood/community FB pages to see first-hand the rise in brazen crimes. Where is the increased policing & allied support planning to deal with this?

The presentation organised by WVCC was, unsurprisingly, disappointingly, so far less than inspiring. So much so that one of the presenters arrogantly told the several-hundred-odd audience ‘well, you chose to live in a high-rise apartment in Phillip!!!!’. And WVCC remained silent.

The question has to be asked of WVCC, what are you doing about this situation? Our representative ACT government politicians, our planners, public servants, what are you doing about this situation? Our major land leaseholders, what are you doing about this situation? It would also seem to beg the question – do any of you own property and live in Phillip?

No one seems to be invested in best outcomes for the Phillip community who live here, or live in surrounding suburbs. Please prove us wrong.


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