The past month has been another extremely busy one for the Inner South Canberra Community Council.  We remain concerned about the quality of building certification processes in Canberra and the process for approval of exempt developments.  We continue to pursue our concerns with ACT Government and will let you know how we progress. 

The ISCCC is gravely concerned about draft amendments to the Heritage Act which, amongst other things, provide for Ministerial call-in powers which would potentially threaten the independence of the Heritage Council and compromise Canberra’s planning values. The relevant Minister, Mr Corbell, has undertaken to consider these and other concerns before finalising the legislation. More generally, we have been encouraged by the efforts of Shane Rattenbury MLA to secure more transparent and clearly-defined criteria for the use of Ministerial call-in powers and hope that this might remove the opportunity for legitimate community concerns about development applications to be ignored.

One of the most historic but underappreciated parts of Canberra is the district of Symonston. This beautiful place, about which most Canberrans know next to nothing, is under threat from piecemeal and inappropriate development which threaten the area’s fabulous conservation and heritage values. It is time we had a Symonston masterplan to guide future development.

Several current proposals for the area include construction of a forensic mental health facility across the road from a farmyard nursery visited by thousands of schoolchildren every year, and a recent announcement for a combined RSPCA and Domestic Animal Services facility in a significant conservation area in Symonston.  The siting of both these developments has proceeded without adequate consultation with local residents and the ISCCC will be working to represent their interests. Our local politicians seem to have abandoned Symonston and we will work hard to ensure residents’ concerns are listened to and acted upon.

Gary Kent

President

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