Page 3967 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 30 October 2013

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The city faces significant growth over the next 15 to 20 years and the government needs to plan now for meeting, providing for and accommodating that growth. The ACT planning strategy sets out how growth will be accommodated over the next 25 to 30 years. The focus is very much on accommodating growth in our city centre, in our town centres and along key public transport corridors. There are good public policy reasons for encouraging more people to and facilitating more development in these locations. First of all, it makes better use of existing infrastructure, but, more importantly, it prevents the urban footprint of the city from continuing to expand in a manner which is simply becoming unsustainable.

It is unsustainable because we know, first and foremost, that the impact of urban development on native biodiversity is significant and severe. The territory faces increasingly restricted choices when it comes to the development of greenfields land sites. While some greenfields land development will always be part of the overall land supply mix, the consolidation and intensification of development in existing already developed areas is a critical part of meeting growth for the future.

Secondly, sustainability outcomes dictate that we should see more people living close to where they have better transport choices and are able to undertake a broader range of their journeys, for work, recreation or other purposes, by modes other than the private motor vehicle. We see challenges right now in places like Gungahlin where nine out of every 10 journeys undertaken by people who live in the district of Gungahlin are made by the private motor vehicle. We know that, without changes to the way transport and development occurs in our city, those households will continue to face real cost pressures associated with having to spend more and more of their money on rising fuel costs, insurance, registration and, of course, the day-to-day consequences of purchasing and owning a motor vehicle.

We also know that there are real health benefits associated with encouraging more people to undertake more of their journeys by walking and cycling. This, of course, is determined by the nature of their physical environment. If more people live in an environment where it is easier and convenient to undertake at least some of their journeys walking, cycling or on public transport they are more likely to do so.

That really underpins why the government has taken the decision that at a strategic planning level we must make sure that more people live close to good public transport corridors, live close to where they work, live close to where there are cultural or recreational facilities and commercial facilities that meet their needs and live in an environment that still is affordable and still provides a high quality of urban amenity.

Setting in place the overarching planning objectives for the city, we then come to how we actually translate those long-term and strategic objectives into activity on the ground. We need to drill down and do the next level of planning for our centres around how we accommodate that growth. The government is doing this through master planning work in places like Tuggeranong, Erindale and Cooleman Court. We are doing it in Belconnen, Dickson and Kingston.

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