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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2473 ..

Garden city plan

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: Members, I have received a letter from Ms Gallagher proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The decision of the Australian Council of National Trusts to remove nine suburbs previously on the trust's endangered list as a result of a release of the Garden City plan.

MS GALLAGHER (4.26): I raise this matter today because it reflects an important and positive development for the future of Canberra as a garden city, and for the amenity and lifestyle of Canberra residents. The Australian Council of National Trusts conducts an endangered places program, the aim of which is to highlight heritage places under threat and to encourage action to conserve them.

Each year, the trust reports on outcomes for places listed in the previous year. I am happy to say that Canberra has recently been the site of a number of positive outcomes in heritage conservation. Canberra's garden suburbs were placed on the trust's endangered places list in 2001. These suburbs were O'Connor, Ainslie, Braddon, Reid, Turner, Red Hill, Yarralumla, Forrest and Griffith.

The trust notes that these suburbs, developed between the 1920s and 1940s, are essential to Canberra's development and character. These suburbs, with their low-density, detached housing, with separate gardens and ample street tree planting, are recognised by the trust as an excellent example of integrated city garden planning. The report says that, as a collection, they are one of the best examples, internationally, of garden city planning. They are integral to Canberra's character and reputation as a significant twentieth century town planning achievement.

If these suburbs are widely recognised as an asset in their garden state, why were they placed on the endangered places list? There were a number of reasons for this. The trust notes that one of the main reasons for places becoming endangered is pressure driven by urban consolidation, resulting in intensive development and inappropriate redevelopment proposals. The garden suburbs of Canberra were particularly at the mercy of this sort of development.

Under a rush to develop without heed to issues of sustainability, community concern or Canberra's heritage, these suburbs, which form a key part of Canberra's nature and image, were threatened by urban consolidation, dual occupancy and a blanket 35 per cent plot ratio that could have been increased to 50 per cent as part of the Territory Plan proposed under ACTCode.

In recent years, inappropriate dual occupancy and multi-unit development, as well as huge houses crammed onto blocks, have been fundamentally changing the garden character of Canberra-damaging the residential amenity and privacy Canberrans have traditionally enjoyed. Inadequate private open space and permeable surfaces for trees and gardens have also begun to have serious implications for sustainable water management.

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