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Ugly estates greatest blight, committee told


Noel Towell

Ugly estates and streetscapes are the greatest blight on the emerging communities in Canberra's north, according to the Gungahlin Community Council.

And inner south resident's groups have vowed to continue the fight against further infill development, as Canberra's Community Councils gave evidence to a Legislative Assembly committee.

They appeared yesterday before a multi-party committee investigating the future of Canberra's residential development, estate development and leasing codes.

In the first of five public hearings to be held on Draft Variation 306 to the territory Plan, the ACT's central planning document, the committee heard from community councils of the inner south, inner north, Weston Creek, Gungahlin and Woden.

Gungahlin Community Council vice-chairman Peter Elford told the committee his group's biggest worry was the amount of ugly houses, apartments and entire developments that were going up in the growing northern suburbs.

''The thing that gives us the most angst is streetscape and desired character,'' he told the committee.

''We have had a large number of developments appearing in Gungahlin that are not sympathetic, as far as we can see, to anything around them.

''They're extraordinarily unattractive, they're not sympathetic to existing developments and we feel the wording in [Draft Variation 306] doesn't have the wording in enough detail about how you're going to define and enforce streetscape and desired character.

''We feel they're incredibly important factors, they're very important for Gungahlin where we're building a new community and we're trying to avoid that horrible building or this terrible street.

''We'd like to see that avoided and we think there has to be more rigour around the process of ensuring you maintain good streetscape and desired character.''

Deputy chairwoman of the Inner South Community Council, Anne Forrest, told the committee the draft variation had adopted a ''flat earth'' approach to planning the city's development.

''One of the things in particular with this flat earth approach is that Draft Variation 306, a lot of us believe, ignores the established character of our older suburbs,'' she said.

''It treats the older suburbs in the same way as newer suburbs with vary different block sizes and very different characteristics and so I would still maintain that it is better to have more focused draft variations.''

Ms Forrest said that she and her group were unhappy with the term ''desired character'' when applied to planning decisions in older inner-Canberra suburbs. ''I tend to use the term, particularly in relation to the older suburbs, established character, because this desired character could, it could be argued, is going to come from redevelopments that local people might regard as inappropriate,'' she said.

''So I think that this term desired character is problematic.'' She said the council wanted the government stick to the principles of Draft Variation 200, the ''garden city variation, and to the establishment of the RZ1 and RZ2 development zones in the inner north and south.

''People accepted in the main that there would be protection of the character in RZ1 zones and there would be change in the core areas, the RZ2 zones. That did, as far as people were concerned, enable this city to grow without destroying the established character.''

16 comments so far

  • Now you stop that.

    You know that URBAN INFILL (read HIGH DENSITY) living provides for a much better way of life. Look at those beautiful estates all over Europe and North American cities. It has enhanced the lives of millions.

    We developers have the right to take every bit of spare land and DEMAND that the government allow us to put multi story buildings on it for you who don't want the blot on your landscape.

    AND we will tell you that it will enhance the streetscape if we create no footpaths and tiny blocks of land and charge you exhorbitant prices and no play areas for children, because we KNOW that it is good for you.

    We are not doing this for our own good, you know.

    Mind you, we wouldn't live in any of these disgusting environments. We need large blocks, large houses and lots of room for our children to roam and our cars to park.

    AND if you try to stop us we will brand you NIMBYs, because WE know what you want...

    Does anyone remember when Canberra was a place of beauty that was different from every other hopeless city? Of course not. We MUST be like Sydney, Melbourne, London, Manchester, New York etc, etc.

    Nimby, Nimby
    Date and time
    July 12, 2012, 8:17AM
    • Complaining that Gungahlin is a dump is about 20 years too late. Successive ACT governments, both Labor and Liberal, have consistently sold out to developers. Money wins, every time.

      Date and time
      July 12, 2012, 3:24PM
  • I applaud your foresight and reasoning Nimby Nimby. Let’s get rid of this notion of the bush capital once and for all. Get rid of all those pesky kangaroos bounding around eating up all our native grassland. In fact get rid of the grasslands altogether . Cement ‘em over. That should save TAMS a heap of dollars and the salaries of the urban rangers just on those two initiatives. Fill in every available open space with brick and mortar and cement, turn those famous Canberra blue skies into something more akin to Sydney and Melbourne’s smog-filled valleys and byways and while we are at it, can we get make sure we attract another couple of hundred thousand people here with their 2 and 3 car families so the roads become a little more congested please ?

    Sick of These Wide Open Spaces
    Date and time
    July 12, 2012, 9:20AM
    • I grew up in Canberra and lived for 45 years in the city, my biggest mistake was selling my home in chapman 900m2 block and building in Amaroo 550m2 block. Living on top of your neighbours and listening to their conversations drove us out after 3 yrs we took early retirement and moved to Brisbane following our kids. I will never move back, apart from woeful weather, the houses are little boxes of square brick veneer or rendered homes that all look the same. For goodnes sake allow timber and fibro and any other material available to give the place an eclectic look it gives the place a bit of character. I couldn't bring myself to pay the prices for houses that all look the same in suburbs that all look the same.

      Lynne of Brisbane
      Date and time
      July 12, 2012, 9:28AM
      • Very well said Nimby, Nimby.
        Canberra has been ruined by greed. All those ugly, backyardless, roof almost touching houses, and rows and rows of ugly units and townhouses. What an eyesore. Friends that visit laugh at Gungahlin, and ask how anyone could live there.
        Thank developer, real estate, and government greed for this embarrassment to Canberra.

        Date and time
        July 12, 2012, 9:59AM
        • Did you know the Heart Foundation advocates High Density living for quality of life purposes.

          Canberra, the City run by the Greens, has the least effective public transport system in the country and it takes 15 minutes to drive anywhere. Very few people can just walk to the shops.

          As an ex-Canberran who now lives in the newly developed Green Square precinct in inner Sydney, I can tell you now that High Density is the way of the future. To compare Canberra's potential issues with the Ghetto's of poverty stricken minority groups in far away lands is laughable.

          ACT residents complain that Canberra gets a bad rap from outsiders. There's a reason for that. Its so inconvenient and its residents have an air of entitlement about them. No wonder it gets bad press.

          The place is a hole and its not because of the climate.

          Razzle Time
          Date and time
          July 12, 2012, 10:18AM
          • I feel more and more disenfranchised as a result of this silly building standards approach.

            Outraged of Palmerston
            Date and time
            July 12, 2012, 10:38AM
            • Who the hell are "the community councils?" They are unelected sticky beak lobbyists for NIMBYs and nothing more. They have no status and should not get treatment as though they are local councils in NSW. Urban infill is essential for Canberra unless you think Yass and Cooma are great Canberra suburbs. God Canberra people amaze me.

              Date and time
              July 12, 2012, 10:39AM
              • Good question - who are community councils, where did they spring from, who or what gives them status and power -

                Date and time
                July 12, 2012, 12:30PM
            • The real complaint/issue is that people who live near these new developments (not talking Gunghalin but increased density in the suburbs) get no benefit from the increased density. You end up having to move, probably losing some money on the sale because no one wants to buy your house, they just want your land. Great if you have a terrible house that is falling down, but not great if you have a house in good condition that you have cared for.

              And dont say 'increased land value' because the increase in the value of the land is far less than the decrease in the value of the house itself.

              This is why people complain. Most (although not all) would be happy to move if it didnt cost them so much money, but it does cost a lot (loss of value, stamp duty etc). Perhaps the government could have discounted (or no) stamp duty on a new purchase if you sell land within RZ2 to a purchaser who guarantees to build medium density (and the purchaser is responsible to the govt for any tax loss if they do not proceed). Then people will move away to somewhere more suitable for their lifestyle (not RZ2).

              I do have a self interest in this. I bought my house 10 years ago and then a few years later it was suddenly re-zoned RZ2. No consultation with me. Basically I now pay higher rates in return for having a lower value property and can't afford to move

              Date and time
              July 12, 2012, 12:08PM

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