150 Yarralumla and Deakin residents, including Labor MP for Canberra Gai Brodtmann, gathered on Monday night, as local opposition to a large-scale housing development gathers pace.
The ACT Government is looking to gain a revenue stream in releasing land to house about 4000 people in the site of the former Canberra Brickworks at the intersection of Adelaide Avenue, Yarra Glen, and Cotter Roads.
The meeting was organised by the Inner South Community Council and the Yarralumla and Deakin Residents Associations as an information night. All speakers either opposed or questioned the development, however.
"We want them to withdraw plan and come back to us, we want to work with the government but we think this particular plan is unacceptable," Marea Fatseas from the Yarralumla Residents Association said.
The older crowd filled the Deakin Football Club hall with some residents worrying aloud about having too many new neighbours.
“I’m more concerned about the increase of the population rather than the preservation of the brickworks,” resident Jennifer Yeates said, “it’s doubling the population of Yarralumla.”
Deakin resident David McKenzie told the crowd the development could become an urban ghetto. "In London islands of high density development have become ghettos of crime and god knows what else," Mr McKenzie said.
Others came from as far as Belconnen, concerned about how the removal of asbestos from the brickworks would be handled. The most recent ACT budget allocated nearly $3 million towards removing contamination from the site.
A man close to the Yarralumla Residents Association said while Ms Brodtmann has not come out publically against the current development proposal, it was possible that she would.
Ms Brodtmann, a Yarralumla resident, has previously queried the development of new embassies in the area.
Melanie Hanna also from Yarralumla said “I love Yarralumla, and I love Canberra as it was planned with dots of nature throughout the suburbs.”
“We’re not against development as such what we’re against is the degree of development. Eight story buildings is not keeping with the essence of the building and the suburb,” Ms Hanna said.
The project has been mooted for years, with 1100 new homes set out in a 2010 redevelopment masterplan.
Under the current proposal a possible road interchange has been ruled out and the number of dwellings sits at 1600 with 15,000 square metres of commercial space in Deakin.
Land sales are one of the few sources of self-generating income for the ACT government, an area where they are already under pressure.
The government cut the number of dwellings they will release on the market in their 2014-15 budget, slowing their expected revenue by $244 million over four years after public service cuts were announced in the federal budget.
Yarralumla had 2915 residents in the 2011 census, earning an average salary of $71,954 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010 estimates of personal income. Deakin had 2782 on an average $71,957.
Resident submissions on the proposal are due by July 14 and it is expected that the first land will be released in 2016.