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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 889..


Spatial plan

MRS CROSS: My question is a crossover question and can be directed to either Mr Quinlan or Mr Corbell. It has been well documented that the revitalisation of Civic needs to be a major priority for this government, and future ACT governments. Civic has been in decline for many years, with many businesses choosing to set up outside Civic, some even setting up in specific business areas, such as the Brindabella Business Park.

This appears to be in direct opposition to the focus of the government's economic white paper, which places a large economic emphasis on the airport as a focal point for Canberra business. How do you plan to balance these two priorities to ensure that they complement each other rather than compete with each other?

MR CORBELL: I will answer that question. Mrs Cross is right: there is some crossover between the economic and planning. The government recognises that the airport plays an important role in our local economy and in the regional economy. There is no doubt that the activities the new owners of Canberra International Airport have undertaken are exemplary in providing for a high quality of built design and providing competition in the commercial office market. There is also no doubt that property owners in Civic have, in the main, relied on aging office stock, as new property comes onto the market. They are experiencing competition as a result of that.

The government has two clear objectives: that Civic remain our pre-eminent centre and that it is strengthened as such. The government is taking steps to address this. For example, we have signalled our intention to release two sites in Civic, each with over 25,000 square metres of floor space, to provide for new commercial office space in Civic-vital for getting some churn into the existing property market in the City area.

We have also applied complete remission of the change-of-use charge for the City West area, to encourage revitalisation of old office stock into other uses, such as residential. We have, further, signalled our intention to revise the planning control for Civic-which is under way as we speak-to ensure that we have a strong planning regime that is competitive with the planning regime at the airport. There is no doubt that the planning regime at the airport gives the airport an edge. There are virtually no public consultation requirements at the airport, and there is no third-party review capacity. So they do have an edge, and that needs to be addressed. We are doing that through our work in Civic.

The point Mrs Cross raises is how we strike the balance. It is not black and white: airport good, Civic bad-or Civic good, airport bad. It is about making sure we have a balance. The airport is a significant activity centre, and the spatial plan recognises it as a significant activity centre, as does draft amendment 44 to the National Capital Plan. The issue is: to what extent should that activity go? The territory's view is that the airport should not have the same status as a town centre or, indeed, as Civic, and we have put that view to the National Capital Authority.

The airport, understandably, wants to have greater scope to continue to expand. That is justifiable from its commercial perspective, but we are not convinced that it is in the broader interests of the city. We will continue to work constructively and engage in the debate, with both property owners in Civic and the airport, as we work through these


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