Page 3210 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005

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a proponent-led transformation of Deakin into a Kingston, despite the fact that Deakin was not identified by ACTPLA as a suburb targeted for future development.

Of course, one of the key areas of confusion regarding the height issue is that aspects of Adelaide Avenue are in the domain of the National Capital Authority and any development permitted by the ACT must also be consistent with parameters set by the National Capital Authority through the national capital plan. Whilst at present the current development control plan establishes development of “predominantly three and a maximum four storeys”, the NCA has advised that it will review the height provisions of its development control plan.

Given that the proponent for development, which has an option on the purchase of the motel, has put on the public record its belief that seven-storey development is needed for the Embassy site development to be viable and given that we can expect that the proponent will have spoken to the NCA as well as to the Deakin community, ACTPLA and all, one would be naive not to imagine that the proponent in fact anticipates a change to those height limits. In other words, unless the ACT government is prepared itself to put a limit on the permissible height, then we can expect a protruding residential complex very soon, with perhaps a number of others to follow in good time.

That is why I believe that we are dealing here with an issue of trust. I believe that the minister’s tabling statement is disingenuous. His Pontius Pilate approach of simply arguing that the NCA has height controls for development fronting Adelaide Avenue and that the development control plan states that the building would be limited to four storeys makes no acknowledgment that the NCA has advised that it will review those provisions. The minister makes no mention of the fact that the NCA will make decisions, as he is well aware, with little reference to ACT priorities. Whitegoods at the airport springs to mind. But this will be especially so if the ACT government does not itself emphasise the need for height controls.

It would not be inconsistent with the national capital plan if the ACT put a height limit of, say, four storeys on this development, but the minister has not done that, nor has he made any statement suggesting that that is what the ACT government, on behalf of its constituents, would want. The only reason for the government not to put such a limit on this variation or express such a view is that it is perfectly happy to accept seven storeys, but it is pleased that it can dodge the heat from the issue by hiding behind big brother, the NCA; it is as simple as that. While both ACTPLA and the planning and environment committee seem to accept a shift towards residential land use, such a shift, as I have said, is based on an analysis of economic viability for the current use put forward by the developer. Most of the figures and analysis available can be fairly easily contested at the very least.

One underlying question, which appears not to have been considered in any depth, is the opportunity cost of the long-term loss of such a use of the land. It has been argued by a range of parties that some leisure and commercial accommodation in and around that part of south Canberra is an important resource and that sacrificing this site to multiunit development will, in the long run, denude Deakin of some of its vitality. Without major attention to roads and lots of effort to get people onto bikes and public transport, this development, as envisaged by the proponent, will be a traffic horror, experienced as

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