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Canberra Today 2°/6° | Monday, May 20, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Planning gone completely mad in North Curtin

The North Curtin horse paddocks… the proposed development will be “three times as dense as Singapore”. Photo: Paul Costigan

“The policy of the government, driven by the Greens, is to build future Canberra totally within the current footprint. Madness!’, writes political columnist MICHAEL MOORE.

Ideologically driven planning in Canberra will mean the loss of the special character and amenity that is our carefully planned city. 

Michael Moore.

The policy of the government, driven by the Greens, is to build future Canberra totally within the current footprint. Madness!

The proposed North Curtin development is a case in point. The Curtin Residents Association identified that the proposed development will be “three times as dense as Singapore”. If that is not bad enough, at this stage there is also no proposal for appropriate amenities to support the development.

The government’s Our CBR website argues that they are “progressing work to deliver more than 1300 townhouses and multi-unit dwellings” in the area. It boasts that “the existing North Curtin horse paddocks will welcome the new homes, close to transport, local services and places of employment”.

The “request to share thoughts” has raised the ire of the Residents Association, who argue the proposal “is as densely populated as the most densely populated areas of Sydney, London, Amsterdam or Stockholm”. A good reason for concern. 

The reaction of some will be to resort to name calling, using terms such as  NIMBY (not in my backyard). What an easy cop out to avoid answering key planning questions! 

Since before self-government, it has invariably been residents’ groups and academics who have questioned planning decisions and worked to hold governments accountable. 

Residents’ groups do understand the broader planning concerns – but expect sensible decisions and appropriate developments that have a direct impact on them.

The development of C5 in Campbell includes a significant number of medium-rise apartments. Why were there minimal objections? The government of the time was not greedy. There is a wide green space for recreation with trees and room for families, their children and dogs. This is surrounded by the apartments with convenience shops and restaurants as part of the complex.

Proposing 1300 units for North Curtin is hardly likely to be able to facilitate this sort of development. If it was able to do so, the government planners would have provided indications instead of weasel words such as, “the future residential neighbourhood is envisioned as high-quality, sustainable and vibrant with quality public streets and spaces”.

The government has called for community feedback. The North Curtin proposal will be a test for the recently appointed planning minister, Chris Steel. Will the consultation process be genuine, or will it be the usual façade of listening and then doing what was intended in the first place.

Steel took on the role just six months ago. Will he genuinely listen? Will he require his directorate to listen properly? Will he be willing to stand up to the Greens’ ideology of no further development beyond Canberra’s current footprint and much more density throughout the city?

“The major roads in the area – Yarra Glen/Adelaide Avenue, Cotter Road and McCulloch Street – are already very busy and congested with peak-hour traffic” according to Ian Elsum, the president of Curtin Residents Association. He added “schools in the area are full” and asked, “where are the children going to go to school?”

The residents are not bloody minded. They have acknowledged that North Curtin is an appropriate place for development. However, this sort of intensive development, while it might suit developers and the Greens’ agenda, undermines the sort of amenity that’s found in suburbs such as Curtin.

The government wants to move quickly. It argues “Canberra’s population is set to grow to 500,000 by 2027” and justifies this sort of half-baked development proposal with the need to enable “the supply of new homes, particularly focused on areas close to transport and services, as well as investing in the infrastructure to support them”.

Instead of rushing ahead, the Curtin Residents Association is asking the government “to pause the current consultation, extend the time for developing draft conditions of planning, design and development. They argue that this will provide the time for developing plans that address their concerns before a second round of public consultation.

It is appropriate that nearby residents, and Canberrans in general, should expect the area to be “planned in a holistic way” and that appropriate detail be shown to allow residents to understand the impact on those who will live there along with those in the nearby suburbs.

Michael Moore is a former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly and an independent minister for health. He has been a political columnist with “CityNews” since 2006.

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Michael Moore

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4 Responses to Planning gone completely mad in North Curtin

G Hollands says: 14 May 2024 at 8:44 am

Readers might also remember that in the 60’s there was a massive flood in that area and people died. Some were saved by the heroic efforts of a policeman who almost lost his life at the time. Sheer madness!!!!

Red says: 19 May 2024 at 5:35 pm

I remember that flood very well and would have been one of the victims if I had decided to drive through there 5 minutes later. It certainly was a horrible flash flood.

Angus Denham says: 16 May 2024 at 5:48 pm

Curtin is already getting choked with traffic as commuters use Curtin to bypass main feeder artery roads. In particular both Carruthers and McCulloch now regular daily choke points; when did this become acceptable?

How can this new precinct in Nth Curtin not consider the existing issues and problems which need to be addressed first, before a statement of how many new homes will be built on the site?

This is not forward planning.

It is interesting that the NCA, whom the ACT Gov says is responsible for the zoning of Nth Curtin, will seek to abide by the Griffin plan. How does this cater for public space such as Nth Curtin. It does however for Embassy standards and design exclusions which must apply to the site.

If the public must cater for increased density in housing, why does this not apply to Embassy development too?
Why can’t we fit all the Embassy’s into smaller lots and use the same “ABS statistics” used by the ACT Government based on number of people living in each dwelling.


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