Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2021) . . Page.. 368 ..
school; there would be recreation areas with parks and sports ovals; and perhaps there would even be community health facilities or a community hall. This variety would be within the suburb, providing for a range of opportunities and services to meet the community’s needs.
The downside to single-use land planning is that all these activities are very dispersed and the critical mass to support them does not always eventuate. The dispersal of activities also creates a transport task that creates a lot of traffic that then has a detrimental impact on the environment and does not support high-frequency public transport.
Mixed-use development is, in part, an answer to the experience of single-use land planning and its downsides. The concept is fairly straightforward insofar as you take a lot of uses that would usually be separated and that are spread out over a large geographic area and mix them all together in a smaller geographical area. The outcome is much more what people need closer to where they live and work.
For mixed use to be that, it must be a genuine and balanced mix of a range of urban activities—mixed-use developments where we have three or more activities and no one activity cannibalising the others. We have some good examples of mixed-use precincts in the ACT. One example is New Acton. During the development, the developers made a series of considered and proactive decisions to diversify the range of activities within the precinct, as well as individual buildings. The result is a dynamic urban area that supports activity all days of the week, during the day and evening, for a range of interests and needs.
Unfortunately, this is something that we have struggled to fully realise in development to date in Gungahlin. In place of buildings that provide a range of uses where no one is concentrated to the detriment of others, we have seen a trend for first-level commercial and then many levels of residential. The commercial parts of the buildings have been built, for the most part, without a clear tenant in mind, leading to many sites with hard fit-outs that need to be retrofitted with varying levels of success, to support businesses that may be interested in locating in the space. To fully realise the aspirations of our community for its town centre, we need to change the trend to make sure that we have the spaces for the businesses and jobs that we seek to have located in our town centre.
Never has there been more opportunity to realise what mixed-use development can achieve. As Canberra grows, it is also diversifying away from being fully reliant on the federal public service as the main employer. The APS will remain the biggest employer and central to the city, but opportunities are diversifying.
Part of the strategic objective spelled out in yesterday’s budget is to leverage Canberra’s competitive advantages in the tertiary education, space, defence, cybersecurity, advanced technology and manufacturing, and renewable energy sectors to support economic growth. We need to encourage these and other industries to set up in Gungahlin as well. Planning systems are a great lever to do this.