A peninsula on the Molonglo River earmarked for up to 30 homes should be preserved as public space to better protect threatened species, the Conservation Council ACT has urged.
The ACT Legislative Assembly's planning committee is examining a draft variation to the Territory Plan that would change the boundaries of the new Molonglo River Reserve, in line with a draft management plan for the area released last year.
But in a submission, the council said it noted "with alarm" homes could be built right to the edge of the reserve at the Coombs peninsula, bordered by only a fire trail.
The peninsula was slated for as many as 60 homes in 2020-21, according to the indicative land release program published in June.
But an updated program put out as part of last week's ACT budget showed an estimated 30 homes could now be built on site.
However it is still an increase on the 24 homes that were pencilled in for the peninsula when the Conservation Council took the territory government to ACAT in 2012 over concerns the development impacted the habitat of the threatened pink-tailed worm lizard and left inadequate room for bush fire management.
Platypus have also been spotted on the peninsula embankment, a consultation report from the planning directorate noted.
Planning Minister Mick Gentleman conceded the blocks would likely be marketed as a premium product by the Suburban Land Agency, with "incredible" views.
But Conservation Council ACT executive director Helen Oakey said it seemed the bushfire abatement zone needed to protect new residents would likely be in the reserve.
"We don't think they should do any fire management in the reserve as there are endangered species right on the edge," Ms Oakey said.
"Bushfire management needs to happen in the urban footprint, which effectively means the area should be put aside [because it is too small]."
She said the peninsula should instead be rezoned for public use, incorporating a bushfire management zone, so the reserve could be protected.
Conservation Council ACT board member, Emeritus Professor Ian Falconer said having a bushfire asset protection zone on top of pink worm-tailed lizard habitat totally contradicted territory laws "and could be taken up by a barrister at future times".
But head of the ACT Parks and Conservation Service Daniel Iglesias said they had found a way to reduce the bushfire risk and improve the habitat of the lizards by introducing "hundreds of tonnes of rocks" into areas where fuel loads needed to be cut.
"It's a happy situation, we can demonstrate improving the habitat quality helps us deal with bushfire fuels," Mr Iglesias said.
Mr Iglesias also said the directorate had assessed the entire area for lizard hotspots and the peninsula did not have any high or medium quality habitats (although projects director Sophie Clements said low quality habitat was detected).
The planning directorate's deputy director Dr Erin Brady said the 30 homes referenced in the land release program was only a high-level estimate.
Urban and planning design policy manager Alix Kaucz said the actual number would depend on the controls required in the future estate development plan.
A bushfire risk assessment would form part of that plan, she said.
But local resident John Hutchison said it seemed "shortsighted" to develop the peninsula for so few blocks.
"Once it's gone, it's lost forever," Mr Hutchison said.