An ACT government backbencher has thrown support behind a push from Gungahlin residents to halt all government land sales in the town centre until a proposed planning law is reviewed by the Assembly's planning committee.
The Gungahlin Community Council has submitted a petition to the territory government that said residents had "completely lost confidence" in the planning system.
ACT Greens member for Yerrabi Andrew Braddock sponsored the petition, saying Gungahlin residents needed planning and development to support their needs.
The petition comes as the Suburban Land Agency is set to auction four major sites in the town centre next week, which when developed could total more than 450 units.
The petition called for the sale of the four sites to be immediately suspended and said no further sales should be sold until a proposed draft variation to the territory plan had gone before the Assembly's Standing Committee on Planning, Transport and City Services.
The variation would alter maximum and minimum building heights in parts of the Gungahlin town centre, preserve 65,000 square metres of office space and allow residential uses in the Gungahlin east precinct.
ACT Housing Minister Yvette Berry said she had directed the Suburban Land Agency to meet with the residents.
"I understand Gungahlin Community Council have raised concerns and I have seen the petition," she said.
"I have asked the Suburban Land Agency to meet with the Gungahlin Community Council and provide me with further advice."
Mr Braddock said he had supported the petition so the community's voice could be heard.
"Locals have told me that they want green spaces, employment opportunities, community gardens, better retail options and community spaces," he said.
"I'm sponsoring this petition to give the community a real say in how their town centre develops. I have heard their concerns and want their voices to be heard in a meaningful way."
Gungahlin Community Council president Peter Elford said the council had taken the drastic step to call for the suspension after years of lobbying around unclear planning rules in the town centre.
Mr Elford said the community was particularly frustrated that only residential seemed to be built in the town centre. He said so-called mixed-use sites would only offer a small number of commercial tenancies on the ground floor alongside hundreds of apartments.
He also said more needed to be done to get employers into the town centre and greater community facilities were also needed.
"It's fair to say the community in Gungahlin is frustrated the town centre doesn't seem to be developing the way town centres are in other parts of Canberra," he said.
The ACT government has flagged a new planning act may come into place next year, following a significant review that started in 2019.
ACT Chief Planner Ben Ponton recently told a recent estimates hearing the current plan gave developers a "clear pathway".
But while the review of the territory plan takes place, Mr Elford said Gungahlin was "uniquely exposed" as the remaining land in the town centre was due to be sold in the coming financial year.
"If [the government] is going to sell off blocks of land that are going to be under a planning system that is noticeably flawed we have to do something now," he said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: