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ACT government won't be dragged over Murrumbidgee River to develop Tuggeranong suburbs

The ACT Government will not build road bridges across the Murrumbidgee River to develop new suburbs for Tuggeranong.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr rejected the idea on Thursday on cost and environmental grounds, after the move was allowed when sweeping changes to the ACT's planning regime were unveiled.

The refusal prompted ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja to accuse Mr Barr of "selling out Tuggeranong".

"He's happy to massively hike the rates of Tuggeranong residents but he couldn't be bothered to invest in infrastructure to deliver affordable housing and a better town centre," Senator Seselja said.

The planning changes, reported first in Fairfax Media, allow residential development in Tuggeranong, west of the Murrumbidgee River, although it will be up to the ACT government to decide when suburbs go ahead.

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The parliamentary triangle's East and West Blocks will be opened up for use as hotels, offices, restaurants, cafes or retail spaces and outdated federal government office buildings at Anzac Park East and West redeveloped.

The first comprehensive review of the National Capital Plan will also allow the CSIRO to sell off its 701-hectare Ginninderra field station. The CSIRO first flagged selling the station last year.

Significantly, the land will be zoned urban, increasing the potential return on the sale.

Mr Barr pointed out the changes would now allow the ACT Government, in a joint venture with the Riverview Group, to proceed with development in West Belconnen that will extend into NSW and include up to 11,500 dwellings, of which 6500 will be in the ACT.

"Planning and consultation on this development has been under way since 2007, which has involved environmental studies and discussions with the community on the proposed development," he said.

"The development is an important part of the ACT Government's land release program and it will include a number of key planning elements that are required for a new development such as shops, bus stops, community facilities and schools.

"While the ACT government is supportive of further housing development in the Tuggeranong area, we remain deeply concerned about any proposed expansion across the Murrumbidgee River.

"The ACT Government is unable to support this proposal as it would require significant infrastructure expenditure to facilitate housing development in the area.

"There are also major environmental concerns with any development that would require crossing the river."

The ACT Government is consulting the Tuggeranong community on the possibility of a significantly more modest development in West Tuggeranong that wouldn't require crossing the river.

"There is some demand for new property in Tuggeranong, but new developments must be prepared in consultation with the community and must also consider the environmental impacts on the river corridor," Mr Barr said.

He said he was also concerned the land at Ginninderra Farm, currently owned by the CSIRO, had been zoned in the National Capital Plan as urban development.

"We would have preferred it to be designated future urban development to enable more consultation with the community," he said.

"The government is concerned about the lack of community consultation and environmental planning on the proposed development with a potential for up to 6500 dwellings at this site."

He wants the future of the land to be considered by the government's "normal" land release processes.

"We would also like to have a fresh discussion with the Commonwealth about a truly meaningful simplification and clarification of the planning system in Canberra."

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