Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 May 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1690 ..
The question of the height of the building is the crucial one in terms of this development. The Deakin residents were concerned that there is no direct process consultation on height issues. They are uncertain about whom they should lobby since NCA has restrictions on height but ACTPLA were supposed to be consulting about it. Yet, in its official consultations with residents, it has already stated the fact that the planned development could be seven storeys was not raised.
As to the development itself: the Embassy Motel is a landmark for local residents and no doubt very popular with a number of interstate visitors. It provides accommodation close to the parliamentary triangle. From the residents’ submission, ACTPLA itself has admitted that sites capable of commercial tourist accommodation use are a limited resource and once lost are not readily replaced. Like many buildings of its era, the Embassy has seen better days. But residents felt that there might be gains from refurbishing it rather than destroying it and building something that may, in another 30 years, be facing a similar fate.
Perhaps what disturbs residents most is that what they think of as their suburb is viewed by the NCA and ACTPLA as a gateway because a major road just happens to skirt their perimeter. This allows the edge of their suburb to be subject to planning measures which might produce developments that fit the grand vision held by some for parts of our city but which are out of character with their suburb as they see it.
Indeed, the other landmark developments along Adelaide Avenue are low rise and not visually affronting. The Prime Minister’s Lodge, seven embassies, Canberra Girls Grammar and the former Solander Gallery are all dwarfed by the Brindabellas which frame the horizon that so many people enjoy seeing from Adelaide Avenue.
Now the community is worrying that the disused Solander Gallery will suffer a similar fate to the Embassy Motel site. This is because the new proposed wording of DA50 opens the door to the proposed seven-storey or eight-level landmark, high-density residential development on the Embassy Motel site, which mercifully the committee has recommended against, and prospectively similar development on all four sites at the crossing of Hopetoun Circuit and Adelaide Avenue.
Further, it is worth asking: is a building defined as a landmark only because of its height? Aspects such as good design, harmony with the environment and landscape setting would seem to be other equally relevant characteristics of landmark design.
The community’s response to the report is that the committee’s report has some very helpful elements, in particular the committee’s recommendation against seven-storey development and landmarks based on height alone. The residents warmly welcome these findings. However, I note that there is still a lack of clarity because the committee recommends that the height of the Embassy Motel be restricted to between three and five storeys. I hope, for residents’ sake, that the result is closer to the three than the five.
Along with the Deakin Residents Association, I welcome the planning and environment committee’s inquiry and report. I note that it realises that there will be significant impacts on road use and transport in this area, which is already rather busy around school and work starting times. Here a bandaid is offered. Instead of considering whether