Although Canberra is only a century old, the city’s built heritage is being eroded every day. Residents’ groups, community councils and other organisations such as the National Trust are forever having to fight rear-guard actions to save what we should be preserving for the benefit of future generations.

The latest battle results from the determination of the ACT Government to rush into law a number of measures that have the potential to cause further damage to sensitive parts of Canberra, including the inner south.

This legislation has been given the non-threatening name of the Planning and Development (Project Facilitation) Amendment Bill 2014. However, it has the potential to significantly diminish the already flawed checks and balances designed to protect the heritage values of our suburbs from unregulated and unbridled development

In summary, the new law will allow the ACT Government to fast-track planning approval for developments in specially-declared precincts and for major projects. The protections previously provided by our heritage and conservation laws will be significantly watered down and substantive appeal rights effectively abolished.

The legislation was due to be passed by the Assembly last week without proper parliamentary scrutiny and community consultation. Following expressions of alarm by community councils and others, the Assembly has belatedly referred this matter to its Planning Committee, for report back by 6 May 2014. The Inner South Canberra Community Council will make a submission to the inquiry warning of the dangers of the proposed new laws.

Gary Kent

President

 

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