Letter to the Editor, Canberra Times Friday 11 January 2013

Planning issues were regrettably given scant attention in the recent ACT election. We missed a golden opportunity to debate the urgent need to preserve the heritage and character of Canberra’s unique suburban precincts.
The ”Protests over Deakin McMansions” (January 7, p3) reveal in stark terms what is at stake.
We inherited from previous generations of Canberrans, aided by enlightened governments and forward-looking planners, beautiful garden suburbs where the design and scale of built constructions complemented and enhanced the urban landscapes.
The totally inappropriate structure identified by the Deakin Residents Association in Gawler Crescent is typical of many recent developments in the inner south that ignore the character of the neighbourhood and impinge on neighbours’ privacy.
Like many residents of this marvellous part of Canberra, and visitors to it, I find it hard not to weep as I walk past the massively imposing, block-shaped, colourless monstrosities that blight what once were attractive streets and thumb their nose at long-standing garden city values and amenity.
A priority of the Inner South Canberra Community Council is the development of precinct codes which recognise the characteristics and features of individual neighbourhoods valued by the local community and should be taken into account in consideration of development proposals and planning decisions. These codes must be developed in close consultation with the local community and must be enforceable.
Our politicians skated around these issues at the election but residents’ groups and concerned citizens generally will ensure they are given the priority they deserve when the assembly reconvenes in a few weeks.
Gary Kent, chairman, Inner South Canberra Community Council

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