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.''