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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 September 2005) . . Page.. 3477 ..


When the ACT Greens supported the passage of the garden city variation to the territory plan, variation 200, we did so having made a number of agreements with the ACT government. Those conditions were: the ruling out of unit titling for dual occupancy in the suburban areas; an improved neighbourhood planning process, incorporating recognition of heritage interest; the implementation of a sustainable-design pilot project using one of the greenfields suburbs; better support for high-quality, sustainable design, with a focus on best practice, innovation and performance indicators for sustainability; and an evaluation of effectiveness of draft variation—now variation—200 in two years.

This is not the debate to examine how well the government has kept its side of the agreement. I can only say that majority government certainly makes the notion of calling the government to account over these matters particularly exhausting. But it is worth recapping a little on the intentions behind variation 200. The key rationale for separating core areas around local, group and town centres is to promote ecologically sustainable development, where transport links can encourage public transport; socially sustainable development, through ensuring the viability of neighbourhood shops and facilities; and promoting a more walkable living environment, with services accessible to all people.

Along with that model for development in our suburbs came a commitment to neighbourhood planning. It was always clear that the suburbs under most development pressure at the time, in 2002, namely, the inner north and then the inner south, would be the first to be taken through a neighbourhood planning process to finetune the suburban zoning. But the very clear implication at the time was that such a process would be rolled out across Canberra.

It was quite soon after the passage of the variation, in mid-2003, that the ACT government began its abandonment of neighbourhood planning and, it appears, formal community involvement in planning altogether. Aranda is a particular victim of that betrayal. Any neighbourhood planning process of integrity would have resolved that Aranda, with no local centre left, to speak of, therefore, had no site for core development.

My motion today is, of course, inspired by the recent developments, or the mooted developments, at Giralang. But there are many other locations around Canberra that may face similar problems. Macgregor, Aranda, Latham and Scullin in Belconnen spring to mind; Hackett in the inner north; perhaps Downer; and perhaps in the south we might be talking about suburbs like Rivett and Lyons, though I do not want to send businesses packing from there. But those are shopping centres that are perhaps experiencing shaky viability.

What happens is that, as shops close and there is less and less activity in shopping centres, vandalism and other damages follow. Disused and underused centres become no-go areas, instead of the friendly, safe places that they should be. But redeveloping them for residential purposes, while it might overcome these problems of a deserted space, sets up another less visible and more insidious range of problems. The challenge really is about maintaining viable community facilities and shops around which more intensive residential development can grow. And that faces a particular challenge if the shops and facilities are not well maintained and if they can be sold off for residential development.


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