ACT News

Bushfire-prone site in Chapman removed from Land Release Program

A block of land proposed for aged care accommodation has been removed from the Indicative Land Release Program adding to the shortage of accommodation for Canberra's elderly.

The block in Chapman was designated for aged care and was scheduled for release to the market in December 2014.

The aftermath of the 2003 bushfires in Darwinia Terrace, Chapman. The block has been taken off the land release program.
The aftermath of the 2003 bushfires in Darwinia Terrace, Chapman. The block has been taken off the land release program. Photo: Graham Tidy

However, by the ACT government's own evaluation the land was identified as being in a bushfire prone area, unsuitable for such a development.

"Developments that will concentrate members of the community at high risk from bushfire in declared BPAs (Bushfire Prone Areas) is not permissible," the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan stated.

The vacant site off Darwinia Terrace and Kathner Street was razed in the 2003 bushfires along with the homes alongside it.

Land Development Agency chief executive David Dawes said the site was removed from the Land Release Program, "because there was an adequate supply of release-ready community facility land".

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Council on the Ageing executive director Jenny Mobbs said the removal of the block from the  Land Release Program added to a territory-wide shortage for aged care accommodation.

"There is a lot of building of aged care accommodation in Canberra because there is such a need here," Ms Mobbs said.

"While we don't want aged care in flood or fire prone areas, we're seeing the problems with that in the rest of Australia at the moment, it would be really nice if they allocated an area within each community for aged care so people didn't have to move from their immediate suburb."

Ms Mobbs said there were not many vacancies for the elderly to move into aged care in Canberra, and a recent surge in Mr Fluffy owners downsizing and moving to retirement facilities had not helped the shortage.

Mr Dawes said while the Chapman site had been withdrawn from the Land Release Program, it remained a potential site for future development.

Four sites in South Canberra - two in Monash, one in Narrabundah and one in Curtin - have been identified as suitable for aged care and retirement developments to be released between 2016-2019, as well as one in Higgins and one in Throsby. Five other sites across the territory could also potentially be released for aged care.

Mr Dawes said the Chapman site could be used for other developments subject to bushfire assessment, including a place of worship, indoor recreation facility, health facility or supportive housing.