Page 3212 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005

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has proposed a seven-storey complex for the site. That is really at the heart of our concerns and that is part of why we will be supporting this disallowance motion.

The planning minister said in November, I think, that he gave in-principle support to a seven-storey complex on the site. He was quoted in the Canberra Times as giving in-principle support to a seven-storey apartment complex development on the site of the Embassy Motel. So the planning minister has made clear that he supports this development. That is fine. That is for him to argue. But it is interesting—I will come back to this—that since the tabling of this draft variation the minister has said, “We don’t have any control over height. Whether it is seven storeys or whatever, it’s got nothing to do with us. That is an NCA issue.” As I will come back to, that is not completely true.

This variation was a proponent-initiated variation, as stated in the relevant documents. The reason for the variation was an approach from the developer seeking to construct a seven-storey residential unit block on the site, which is not allowed under current land use policy and would not be allowed under any land use policy that applies to Canberra at the moment other than in a few specific places, such as in town centres and along Northbourne Avenue.

Obviously, there has been a bit of a difference in approach by the minister from the one he had when he was in opposition to the one he had when he was in a minority government and the one he has now as a member of a majority government. We are seeing an increasing propensity not to listen to some of the concerns of residents and an increasing propensity to reject others.

As I stated before, there are a couple of important points to be made here. One is in relation to the unanimous decision of the P&E committee that development on this site should not go above five storeys. Mr Corbell is going to come back and say that the NCA has control and a maximum of four storeys, so that does not matter. As Dr Foskey pointed out, it would not be inconsistent for there to be height controls.

The NCA could turn around tomorrow and increase the height levels for the Embassy Motel site. In fact, the NCA could turn around and say that it does not have a problem with there being 10 storeys or 20 storeys on that site or anywhere along Adelaide Avenue and, as this variation stands, there would be nothing in ACT legislation that would prevent there being taller buildings, whether they be seven storeys, 10 storeys or whatever the NCA decided.

Currently, there is a control of three to four storeys for the site, but the NCA could turn around at any time and change that. I think the minister is in an interesting position in that he has supported a seven-storey development, but he has done nothing about getting the relevant controls of the NCA changed. I assume that he is assuming that those will change so that a seven-storey development can go ahead, but he proposes no controls at a territory level.

The NCA, as I said, could turn around tomorrow and agree to 10 storeys or 15 storeys and, according to this draft variation, there would be nothing to stop it, no territory controls on height, on plot ratio or anything else. That is a significant concern and that is where the P&E committee was coming from in its unanimous decision. It came to the conclusion that residential development may be appropriate on this site, but there should

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