The Inner South Community Council has, once again, closely engaged with planning and politics on behalf of the local community. Readers may not be aware that the Planning and Development (Project Facilitation) Amendment Bill 2014 was introduced to the Assembly, in March. This legislation was to take effect this month.

Our Committee became aware of the Bill when we received an emailed communiqué from the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services. The Minister indicated that he would be supporting the Bill.

This legislation would have enabled the identification of special precincts and the streamlining of major projects either wholly or partially within these precincts. What happened? Well, alarm bells rang! And, following a brief but intense campaign based on concern about effective long term planning in this city, the legislation was withdrawn.

Professional and community groups now look forward to open, constructive consultation prior to any change to the current planning system. Any major changes must seek to achieve a high quality built environment which is worthy of this city. Our national capital deserves nothing less.

Meanwhile, the ISCCC’s affiliated resident associations are focused on suburban issues including cataloguing the urban open space, monitoring of heritage at risk, and, scrutiny of several proposed major developments. These include:

Plans to build 1,600 dwellings on land adjacent to the Yarralumla Brickworks effectively doubling the population of the suburb. Does the proposal constitute good urban planning? Is it environmentally sustainable? What about the added pressure on local roads, public transport and suburban infrastructure?

A Secure Mental Health Unit to be located in Mugga Lane, Symonston. Will the facility look like the jail? Will it be lit 24 hours a day? How will it impact on local residents? How will it impact on the long term planning of Symonston? From the outset this proposal has been dogged by a lack of (local) community consultation and the absence of a master plan for Symonston.

The release of the Kingston Foreshore Arts Precinct Master Plan. Public information sessions are yet to be scheduled. However, visionary planning will be required to protect this last remaining foreshore area from overdevelopment.

Residents of the inner south live in a dynamic environment. The agenda of the voluntary organisation endeavouring to give voice to the local residents’ groups is very full!

Anne Forrest

Deputy Chair, ISCCC

 

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