The ACT Greens want federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to rein-in non-aviation related development at Canberra Airport.

Woolworths will build its biggest Canberra supermarket next to US retail giant Costco at the airport, as well as a Big W and Dick Smith outlet.

The move has raised questions of how effective the ACT Government’s supermarket competition policy is in limiting Woolworths’ expansion in the territory and has angered Greens planning spokeswoman Caroline Le Couteur.

In a letter to Mr Albanese, Ms Le Couteur criticises unfettered development at the airport, which is disproportionate to supermarket restrictions in the ACT.

”The federal mismanagement of the Canberra Airport precinct has led to flow-on effects throughout the community.

”The ACT Government has been forced to pay for extensive and expensive roadworks throughout the area to try and accommodate traffic flows that should never have been directed to the locale.” She said proposed and existing retail and business development at the airport had not been planned with any consideration of the potential impact on other town centres in Canberra and Queanbeyan.

Airport managing director Stephen Byron rejects the claims, saying development is within limits of commercial and retail spaces agreed to by the ACT Government.  He said Mr Albanese required the airport to engage with the ACT Government on planning to integrate airport developments with local planning.

Secondly, Mr Albanese rejected our master plan and asked for it to be approved after a fresh round of consultation and required inclusion of planning limits requested and agreed to by the ACT Government on the amount of retail and commercial office space at the airport in each precinct. The airport is well inside those limits, which have also been incorporated in a memorandum of understanding.”

Mr Le Couteur also attacked the airport’s business park development.
”We are aware of many employees of government departments who work at the Brindabella Business Park who are unhappy that they need to travel so far, that there is no effective public transport system, and that they cannot enjoy the benefits that most other public service workers have in Canberra of a convenient workplace near appropriate amenities.”

She said existing and anticipated developments, including defence industry, general office, retail, accommodation, conference, hotel, personal services, community facilities, horticulture and recreation, threatened other local development.

”We are very strongly of the view that any development at the Canberra Airport needs to also satisfy ACT planning requirements, and that the Canberra community that will be affected by developments must have some real influence over the out-comes.”

BY JOHN THISTLETON, Canberra Times, 29 June 2011

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