ACT News


Community groups, developers at loggerheads over housing

A spat between community groups and property developers is heating up, with each side suggesting the other is stuck in their ways.

Chairman of the North Canberra Community Council Mike Hettinger has reacted angrily to a column in this newspaper, written by Housing Industry Association ACT's executive director Neil Evans, that said community groups were frequently hostile towards urban infill development even though they would benefit from it.

ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia Catherine Carter has also weighed in on the topic, saying residents would have to accept change in order to reap the benefits.

"I don't know where to start in responding to Neil Evans' diatribe against community groups,'' Mr Hettinger said. "Development infill usually applies to in or near the city centre. The Yarralumla development Mr Evans appears to cite is anything but - sitting six kilometres from Woden and eight kilometres from Civic, it is nowhere near a centre. It's on the outer edge of Yarralumla itself. It's more like suburban outfill, intensifying problems associated with suburban sprawl, like automobile commuting and traffic jams.''

Mr Evans said community groups had become "anti-development" but were quick to ask the government for help in building community centres, swimming pools and running tracks. 

"It appears that any housing proposal that the government comes up with or a private developer puts forward as an infill development is instantly opposed by community groups,'' Mr Evans said.


Mr Hettinger said the assessment was unfair.

"Community groups favour quality over quantity,'' he said.

"Community groups have provided constructive suggestions for developments to make them more community-friendly. It's a shame that both proponents and planners have usually ignored such advice.''

Mr Hettinger said community groups were comprised of volunteers.

"Unlike Mr Evans [they] don't receive salaries for their work,'' he said.

"They aren't development mercenaries but people who want to ensure that Canberra remains a quality place.''