The ACT Government should offer the Brumbies a land swap to allow the rugby club to develop 150 units away from the historic Griffith oval, an Assembly committee was told yesterday.

The Griffith-Narrabundah Community Association wants the Manuka Occasional Childcare Centre moved to the Brumbies headquarters to retain the community use of the former bowling greens near the heritage-listed oval.

But the Brumbies have dismissed the idea and will continue with a proposal to rezone its Griffith headquarters from a commercial CZ6 leisure and accommodation zone to a RZ4 medium-density residential zone. However, a variation to the Territory Plan is required for the Brumbies development to go ahead and the Assembly’s planning committee is considering the application.

Appearing before the planning committee, association president Margaret Fanning said a three-storey development was inappropriate for older Canberrans. The local resident also criticised the water-management plans submitted with the application as simplistic for not including the levels of in-flows and provisions for storms.

”The Government should consider using the land for other community purposes and rezoning the land to, say, community facilities zone, or sport and recreation, or open space or a combination of these to enable that to happen,” Ms Fanning said.

But Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan said he was confident of the veracity of the reports and would not consider a land swap. ”This is a proposal to vary the Territory Plan not a development application process. All the information in the planning report identified no potential issues – it’s a very comprehensive study,” he said. The ACT Heritage Council has approved development on the site as long as it does not jeopardise the landscape setting of the area. But in giving evidence to the committee, the acting chair of the council Dianne Firth said any redevelopment must not be visible through the tree line.

”A satisfactory outcome would be the maintenance of the tree line … and the proposals we have seen would not achieve that,” Dr Firth said. The associate professor of landscape design at the University of Canberra said the park setting of the oval was an important aspect of its heritage value and she considered the bowling greens an important part of that park setting. ”You drive past, you see space, you see green.”

Dr Firth said the site was not appropriate for an underground car park, a key component of an 150-unit development and raised concerns about run-off. She said the Griffin plan specifically designated open parks in flood-prone areas.

”We are dealing with blocks and sections rather than really understanding the purpose of the Territory Plan. All of these planning bodies have developed the city realising where we have issues with drainage and accessibility – it’s built into the Territory Plan, but we look at variations … which are somehow losing the objective and purpose of why we have these green spaces.”

Canberra Times, 14 December 2011, by Eva Kretowicz

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