Page 3972 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 30 October 2013

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MR COE (Ginninderra) (11.36): I, too, rise to speak on the motion moved by Ms Berry regarding the importance of a city plan for our city. We on this side of the chamber are keen and active supporters of the need for planning documents which give certainty to all stakeholders, whether they be government, citizens, businesses or community groups. Consulting on and writing planning documents gives a clear direction, and all involved can approach the future with far more certainty and confidence to, therefore, invest time, money and energy.

The government have a long history of producing reports, often at great expense, that end up failing to be implemented. Of course, whether it is the Canberra plan, the spatial plan, the sustainable transport plan, the transport plan, City Hill, the Gungahlin draft concept report, the open space network, the Canberra central design manual, the territory plan or any of the other plans that this government has put together, the plan is only as strong as its implementation. And, as we know from the 2005 city plan, nothing was implemented. It is same old, same old.

It is all good for artists’ impressions, it is all very well to have sketches of trees, cafes and people riding their bikes, but unless you actually put your money where your mouth is, unless you are actually willing to commit to it from a policy sense, not just from the PR sense, it really does not mean very much. And in actual fact, failure to implement a plan, any plan, can lead to a lack of confidence in all plans.

For too long the ACT government has been making ad hoc changes to the territory plan. This Assembly and the planning committee considered draft variation 308. However, like so many other proposals of this government, the draft variation was not considered in the broader context of the city plan, with the city being drawn in each direction: to the west, with the ANU exchange developments; to the north, with redevelopment in Braddon; to the east, with variation 308; and, of course, to the south, with city to the lake.

These precincts are not detrimental and all, in and of themselves, could be a good thing. However, we have to be very careful that we are not, in actual fact, diluting the city rather than actually enhancing the city. In effect, what variation 308 did was extend the city to the east of Cooyong Street for the first time. And for the first time, it would put a commercial zone in the suburb of Reid. Such a move is not inconsiderable and should be done as part of a broader plan.

Of course, as we well know, at the time of redeveloping the Canberra Centre, the Canberra Centre put all the car parks onto Cooyong and Ballumbir streets because that was the edge of the city. It was literally the edge of the city. But now, with variation 308, it is actually extending the city such that the government is proposing to have 15-storey tower buildings overlooking multi-storey structured car parking. It is all very well to have a city plan, it is all very well to have all the plans that I ran off earlier, but if you are still going to have ad hoc decisions that are simply a cash grab by a government, it really does not mean very much.

The government acknowledge that there is a need for development of a strategy, and that is why they commissioned the city plan, with funding from the commonwealth government. The ACT government articulated the rationale as:

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