An Ainslie co-housing project is one step closer to becoming a reality following the ACT government's decision to approve a variation to the Territory Plan.
Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said the changes would provide a "hands-on opportunity" to test the effectiveness of co-housing in an RZ1 zone.
Ian Ross, Trish Macdonald and Joss Haiblen have been working on a communal living concept for several years.
Their plan is to build three two-bedroom units and a shared kitchen and living area on a 1090 square-metre block at 24 Angas Street, Ainslie.
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The retired trio formed Stellulata Co-housing and submitted the plan to the ACT government's Demonstration Housing Project in 2019.
Ian Ross said while there have been delays and frustrations along the way, the news is a welcome step forward.
"It's very exciting to finally get to this stage of the process. We started this journey a long time ago and it has been frustrating along the way. Everything has been slowed down by fires and smoke and COVID and just the process you need to go through to get a variation to the plan," he said.
"We've just been very pleased with the support from the government and the local community. Of course we have been very frustrated by how long it's all taken but we're just very glad to have reached this milestone."
Once the planning changes come into effect in about early December, the Stellulata Co-housing team will be able to submit a development application to the ACT government.
The ACT's demonstration housing project has become a contentious subject in parts of the territory over recent years.
Earlier this year, a co-housing project in Griffith sparked a generational debate over increasing density in Canberra's inner south.
For the Ainslie co-housing project, Mr Ross hopes it will serve as an example of how a "resident-led project" can form a valuable part of the local community.
"We're hoping to show a few things. One is that we can build a medium density development in a residential area that is very sustainable, and also fits in with the existing appearance. of an older suburbs such as Ainslie," he said
"We also want to be able to demonstrate that there is not just the value in the sustainability and filling the missing middle of the housing market, but also there's advantage in building community in the co-housing model.
"Because we can only fit three units in this development we have a fairly generous shared area ... so we're pleased to work with our neighbours ... to use that common space to some extent by the broader community as well."
Mr Gentleman said co-housing is an ideal alternative for people who want to downsize within their existing community.
"By downsizing, larger properties are then freed up for growing families to move into, creating sustainable communities," he said.
The changes are part of the government's commitment to delivering 70 per cent of new housing within the ACT's existing urban footprint.
"We know there is a need for a greater diversity of housing in our city, so the ACT Government's Demonstration Housing Project will trial and test new types of housing by supporting innovative and sustainable housing proposals like this," Mr Gentleman said.
"Providing increased housing choice will not only help us to create diverse and attractive communities but also provide affordable housing in established communities."
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