Planning Minister Responds to Questions at EPF 28 June

The Environment and Planning Forum (EPF) “provides strategic comment on planning and development policy to the ACT Government and the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate” (EPSDD). The Minister for Planning attended the meeting on 28 June, 2021 and asked for questions to be provided ahead of the meeting. The GCC was encouraged to raise our concerns as detailed in the Call to Suspend Land Sales  in this forum.

The questions the GCC provided, and the written responses received are included below. Please note that the GCC would not normlly raise matters specific to a district in the EPF (which is an ACT-wide forum), but was explicitly asked to do so. These questions are extracted from this attachment to the EPF meeting minutes.

The responses from the Minister feel well short of acknowledging there is any problem, or articulating any actions to address the issues.

For reference, the GCC’s position regarding DV364 based on feedback from residents is detailed in DV364 Inquiry – GCC Submission and Hearings (from the summary):

The Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) believes that Draft Variation 364 (DV364) should be abandoned. It includes changes to the Gungahlin town centre precinct code that are strongly opposed by most Gungahlin residents that will adversely impact the viability of the town centre and the Gungahlin district. The changes to building height, although welcomed, are mute as most blocks of concern to the community already have developments approved that exceed the proposed height limits.

The Refresh experience further undermined the already low level of trust that Gungahlin residents have with the planning system and processes. The Refresh took too long, the feedback from the community was selectively picked at, feedback was ignored, and the final conclusions and proposed actions were at odds with what the community had expressed. Moreover, the late introduction of new proposals (reducing the amount of commercial space, more mixed-use, new mechanisms for handling community space, etc.) which were not exposed to the community for discussion, came as a complete shock and appear not to be evidence based.

Questions Tabled in EPF

QUESTION 1

Two motions have been passed by the ACT assembly, and the ACT Assembly will receive a petition signed by over 650 residents next week, regarding the development of the Gungahlin Town Centre. This is strong evidence that the current planning processes are failing to deliver a viable town centre for Gungahlin. You have committed to respond to Suzanne Orr MLA’s motion (passed on 10 February 2021) by the last sitting day in 2021 (2 December). Andrew Braddock MLA’s motion (passed on 3 June 2021) calls for a response by October 2021.

What specific actions is the ACT government taking to inform and develop a response to the call to “support the further development of the Gungahlin region and town centre, ensuring that there are additional employment opportunities in Gungahlin” ? How will the Gungahlin community be engaged in the process of developing a response ?

ANSWER

  • The two motions, now resolutions of the Assembly, are being considered. Responses to the Assembly resolutions will be provided by the stated timelines.
  • There has been ongoing planning for Gungahlin and it continues to be updated to address changes in market, global impacts and ongoing changes in best practice and communities (including planning for the future Gungahlin community). Through various forms of consultation and engagement the Gungahlin community has and continues to provide input and feedback on planning and development in Gungahlin.
  • It is not only planning that is responsible for the viability of centres – noting it is considered that the planning has provided strong foundations for a liveable and viable Gungahlin town centre. There has been considerable investment in Gungahlin as the town centre and district grows and changes.
  • Draft Variation to the Territory Plan 364 (DV364) incorporates the recommendations of the Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh into the Territory Plan to provide guidance on the desired built form and character of the centre as it develops. An inquiry into DV364 is being held by the Standing Committee on Planning, Transport and City Services. The Government will in due course respond to the Standing Committee inquiry.

QUESTION 2

Many of the planning (poor development), transport (traffic congestion/parking), and lack of facilities (community, sport, recreation) issues in Gungahlin are the result of disconnected incremental investments and projects without a clear and enforced overall strategy.

Will the ACT Government commit, as a matter of urgency, to establishing a cross-directorate place-based approach to completing Gungahlin with all the services residents would expect of a Canberra district? This approach would require active participation from (at least) EPSDD, TCCS, CMTEDD, CSD, SLA, and JCSD, with occasional input/involvement from Education and Health. 

ANSWER

The Government’s approach to planning is an integrated approach which includes collaboration across Government agencies and Directorates. At both the strategic level and the statutory level there is ongoing sharing of information and input. The district planning work being undertaken is an example of how at a spatial scale, the government is taking an integrated approach to strategic planning.

QUESTION 3

What processes (policies, initiatives, incentives, metrics) does the ACT government have in place to encourage the equitable distribution of sustainable economic development, facilities and services across all of Canberra’s districts?

ANSWER

In terms of policies, a clear hierarchy of centres applies in Canberra and this influences the spatial structure and distribution of activity throughout the city. The centres distributed across Canberra include: the city centre, four district town centres, 19 group centres and 93 local centres. This hierarchy is recognised in the ACT Planning Strategy, the National Capital Plan and the Territory Plan.  Beneath this, the Territory Plan provides a system of zoning that is implemented in all centres across all districts to provide for and support economic development, facilities and services to be located at accessible locations. While planning can facilitate and respond to change it is not solely responsible for development and activities that occur throughout the districts. Market forces and industry play a role eg, locational decisions of the private sector to take up the opportunities presented under the land use zoning for centres and in districts. Employment areas and activity areas might also occur in other areas and provide further differentiation of services and competition of economic development opportunities.

The government plans for a range of uses and facilities based on population projections, comparative analysis, engagement, monitoring of changes over time (locally and in other jurisdictions). As Canberra has grown not every centre is the same or serving the same type of population and the needs, opportunities and challenges change.

The ACT Planning Strategy outlines the Government’s clear vision of planning for a compact, efficient, diverse, resilient and accessible city and outlines a number of actions toward achieving this. Further the Strategy identifies an opportunity to undertake a district planning approach to develop a better understanding of district attributes and needs and proposed planning directions for districts (page 93) including (see action section 1.1.4, page 43): https://www.planning.act.gov.au/act-planning-strategy/strategic-directions/compact-and-efficient-city

The ACT Planning System Review and Reform project is currently investigating the opportunities for a district planning approach (https://www.planning.act.gov.au/planning-our-city/act-planning-system-review-and-reform)

GCC Public Meeting 8 September

M,/The next public meeting of the Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) will be held on Wednesday 8 September 2021 starting at 6:30pm.

THE MEETING WILL BE ONLINE – NOT FACE TO FACE

We will be runing the meeting on the Zoom videoconferencing platform and as usual the meeting will be live streamed on Facebook via the GCC Facebook page.

Attendees are strongly encouraged to join the Zoom virtual room meeting. Please REGISTER HERE and you will be emailed the link needed to join the Zoom meeting.

Agenda

Kenny Development Update

The development of the suburb of Kenny was briefly covered in Gungahlin Land Releases 2020-21 but due to the development of the Kenny High School, Gungahlin residents have recently shown renewed interest in what’s happening with Kenny. In response to questions from the GCC at the Environment and Planning Forum, EPSDD have provided this summary.

KENNY – FUTURE URBAN AREA (FUA)

  • The identified future urban area of Kenny comprises a total area of approximately 170ha.
  • In May 2020, the Government approved a site of 7.2ha in the western portion of this area for an education precinct, allowing a high school to be planned, designed and constructed to open at the start of the 2023 calendar year.
    • A development application has been lodged for the high school project
    • The site servicing and associated works at Well Station Drive are subject to concurrent development approvals.
  • The 7.2ha site is intended to accommodate the future high school as well as a separate primary school that would open at a later date determined by Government.
  • The remaining area of the Kenny future urban area (FUA) (once the education precinct is discounted) is about 163ha and is shown on the Kenny Basic Layout plan.

    Kenny Basic Layout plan

  • Under the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment (2013), the Government is required to establish the Kenny Nature Reserve prior to any urban development in the area commencing. This requirement was met through Territory Plan Variation 379, which established the Kenny Nature Reserve. The Reserve bounds Kenny to the south and west, reducing the remaining future developable area of Kenny. This includes the loss of a group centre and some residential development.  Despite this, it is expected that around 1,200 to 1,500 dwellings across a range of dwelling types, can still be delivered.
  • Road access to Kenny will be from Horse Park Drive with two intersections, and Well Station Drive with a further two intersections, aligning with existing intersections adjacent to Harrison.
  • Kenny, while smaller in comparison to other Gungahlin suburbs, will accommodate residential, commercial (local centre), limited community facilities and public open space.
  • Prior to any land releases in Kenny, all statutory planning process and required technical studies will need to be completed.
    • The conclusion of the required statutory process may result in a Territory Plan variation and possibly an amendment to the National Capital Plan.  This would contemplate the requirement for the Territory Plan and the National Capital Plan to reflect the outcomes of the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment (2013).
  • The first release of land in Kenny was forecast to occur in 2020-21 with subsequent releases in the following years.
    • The 2021-22 to 2025-26 Indicative Land Release Program is currently before Government for consideration prior to publication with the 2021-22 ACT Budget.
  • For reference, this is the existing Territory Plan for the suburb of Kenny:

 

GCC Public Meeting 11 August

The next public meeting of the Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) will be held on Wednesday 11 August 2021 starting at 6:30pm. We will be running both a face to face meeting at the Gungahlin Club  51 Hinder St, Gungahlin and a Zoom session. As usual the meeting will be live streamed on Facebook via the GCC Facebook page.

If you wish to attend using Zoom please REGISTER HERE and you will be emailed the link needed to join the Zoom meeting.

Agenda

Pre-DA Consultation for Blocks 5&6 Section 249

Pre-DA Consultation for Blocks 5&6 Section 249
[ Posted on behalf of CORE Development ]

CORE development recently acquired two blocks on the eastern side of the Gungahlin Town Centre at the corner of Camilleri Way and Manning Clark Crescent. This site is zoned for mixed-use (CZ5) and the conditions of sale requires 331 dwellings to be constructed, of which 57 must be affordable and  8 are allocated to public housing.

Sites sold recently in East Gungahlin – two sites purchased by CORE Developments highlighted in green (two sites purchased by the Canberra Business and Technology College highlighted in blue)

CORE are undertaking a pre-Development Application consultation and will be holding a drop-in session on Thursday, 5 August 2021 between 5.00-7.00pm at the Gungahlin Eastlake Football Club. Please register your interest to attend via info@coredev.com.au.

The GCC has also been provided with a more recent set of plans that reflects the feedback the proposal has had from the National Capital Design Review Panel.

CORE Developments will also be attending and speaking at the GCC public meeting on 11 August.

The key elements of the development include

  • approximately 224 apartments in two towers of 9 and 12 stories at the western edge
  • a 5 floor tower at the estern edge, with just two units per floor
  • approximately 98 townhouses/terraces
  • a ground floor commercial family restaurant facing into the proposed linear park at the western edge

If you would like further information about the Proposal, please send an email to info@coredev.com.au and a member of the Core Developments team will be in contact.

DV364 Inquiry – GCC Submission and Hearings

DV364 Inquiry – GCC Submission and Hearings

UPDATED: 11 August 2021 – Further Comments document added

Existing Gungahlin Town Centre Precinct (left) and major changes proposed in DV364 (right)

The Minister for Planning referred Draft Variation 364 (DV364) of the ACT Territory Plan to the ACT Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Planning, Transport, and City Services. The Planning committee is conducting an inquiry into DV364 and called for written submissions. All submissions are available online.

Below you will find the Executive Summary of the GCC Submission, links to the videos of the Public Hearings conducted on 29 July 2021, and the complete GCC submission.

After the hearings, the GCC provided some additional comments in writing to the Committee – this is also included below.

GCC Submission Executive Summary

The Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) believes that Draft Variation 364 (DV364) should be abandoned. It includes changes to the Gungahlin town centre precinct code that are strongly opposed by most Gungahlin residents that will adversely impact the viability of the town centre and the Gungahlin district. The changes to building height, although welcomed, are mute as most blocks of concern to the community already have developments approved that exceed the proposed height limits.

The Refresh experience further undermined the already low level of trust that Gungahlin residents have with the planning system and processes. The Refresh took too long, the feedback from the community was selectively picked at, feedback was ignored, and the final conclusions and proposed actions were at odds with what the community had expressed. Moreover, the late introduction of new proposals (reducing the amount of commercial space, more mixed-use, new mechanisms for handling community space, etc.) which were not exposed to the community for discussion, came as a complete shock and appear not to be evidence based.

The GCC further recommends:

    • The existing reservation of 100,000m2 for commercial space be retained.
    • Further residential (mixed-use) development be minimised (not maximised).

By itself, DV364 does not address the challenge of developing the Gungahlin town centre as a district hub for employment, which in turn underpins a viable town centre. Consequently, the GCC continues to oppose any further sales of land in the Gungahlin Town Centre until:

    • Alternative or additional interim mechanisms (pending the implementation of the ACT Planning Systems Reform Project[1]) be put in place to ensure the development of the remaining sites in the Gungahlin Town Centre contribute substantially to the viability of the town centre through an increase in employment, retail, entertainment, and community services, and
    • Incentives, investments or other mechanisms are put in place to attract employment (or employment alternatives) to the Gungahlin Town Centre.

[1] https://www.planning.act.gov.au/planning-our-city/act-planning-system-review-and-reform

Public Hearings

The committee held public hearings on 29 July. There were 3 parts to the hearings – industry, GCC and other residents, and minister/Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD). The committee and other MLAs asked questions of each group – these are listed in the following table extracted from the Assembly on Demand website  (Click on Link to watch the video or Download to download a copy of the video to watch the Q&A for each question).

Committee Hearing : Thursday 29th July 2021 9:30 am

Standing Committee on Planning, Transport and City Services – Inquiry into DV 364: Gungahlin Town Centre
Commenced
9:30:38 am for 0s
Link | Download

Ms Jo Clay MLA (Chair)
Chair
9:30:38 am for 2m 1s
Link | Download

Ms Adina Cirson, ACT Executive Director, Property Council of Australia
Ms Cirson/ Chair
9:32:39 am for 2m 35s
Link | Download

Ms Nichelle Jackson, Director, Canberra Town Planning, representing Landco Pty Ltd
Ms Orr/ Ms Jackson
9:35:14 am for 4m 3s
Link | Download

Ms Suzanne Orr MLA (Deputy Chair)
Ms Orr/ Ms Cirson
9:39:17 am for 2m 6s
Link | Download

Mr George Katheklakis, Managing Director of KDN Group
Mr Katheklakis/ Ms Orr
9:41:23 am for 9m 43s
Link | Download

Mr Mark Parton MLA
Chair/ Mr Parton
9:51:06 am for 7m 36s
Link | Download

Mr Andrew Braddock MLA
Mr Braddock/ Mr Katheklakis
9:58:42 am for 19m 32s
Link | Download

Mr Peter Elford, President, Gungahlin Community Council, (By Telephone Link)
Chair/ Mr Elford
10:18:14 am for 4m 38s
Link | Download

Mr Kevin Cox
Mr Cox/ Chair
10:22:52 am for 2m 3s
Link | Download

Mr Darron Marks, Treasurer, Gungahlin Community Council
Mr Marks/ Chair
10:24:55 am for 1h 05m 14s
Link | Download

Mr Mick Gentleman MLA, Minister for Planning and Land Management
Chair/ Minister
11:30:09 am for 3m 43s
Link | Download

Director-General, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate
Mr Ponton/ Chair
11:33:52 am for 6m 33s
Link | Download

Ms Alix Kaucz, Senior Director, Territory Plan
Ms Kaucz/ Ms Orr
11:40:25 am for 8m 23s
Link | Download

Mr Steven Gianakis, Acting Senior Director, Strategic, Planning and Reform
Mr Ponton/ Mr Gianakis
11:48:48 am for 10m 18s
Link | Download

Dr Erin Brady, Deputy Director-General, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate
Mr Ponton/ Dr Brady
11:59:06 am for 19m 37s
Link | Download

 

 

GCC Written Submission to DV364 Inquiry

Download (PDF, 320KB)

GCC Further Comments

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DA for Blocks 2&3 Section 227 Approved

The Development Application (DA) for a “mixed use” development of 152 units adjacent to the Gungahlin Club (Blocks 2&3 Section 227) has been partially approved (see below). This development is being marketed and sold as Sierra Gungahlin.

The GCC’s representation against this DA noted that:

  • the development is described as a mixed-use, but the quantity and size of non-residential spaces is extremely small, ie. it’s not very mixed
  • The “lifestyle podium” is only likely to be activated and be a net contribution to the vibrancy of the town centre if there are sufficient commercial/retail tenancies (cafes, restaurants, etc.) to attract residents up onto the podium
  • varying the lease to allow mixed-use seems unnecessary given how many other sites with the town centre are (or will be as a result of DV364) zoned CZ5 (mixed-use)
  • the proposed lease variation removes the obligation for a portion of car spaces on the site to be made public, reducing the overall pool of public car spaces in the town centre
  • many of the recommendations of the Design Review Panel were not actioned

The Notice of Decision indicates the DA is partially approved, because the application to remove the public car parking provisions in the lease was refused. Additional comments included the following:

The key issues with the proposal identified during the assessment included concerns that the development did not provide sufficient active frontage to Efkarpidis and Kate Crace Streets, that the development lacked a suitable address to The Valley Avenue and concerns with the extent of off-form concrete. It is noted that the lessee had previously tried to secure a tenant for a commercial office development on this site but was not successful.

Following a further information request, the applicant lodged an amendment application (S144C and S144E) which reduced the extent of off-form concrete, increased the commercial tenancies fronting onto Efkarpidis Street and improved the presentation to The Valley Avenue. These changes were considered acceptable.

The site constraints, including the level variation, the viability of commercial space at this location and Territory Plan requirements influenced the design outcome, including live/work units opening off public courtyard spaces at the first-floor level. This form of commercial space is not widely offered in the Gungahlin Town Centre and will add to the diversity of commercial space in the area, while providing flexibility of use and satisfying Territory Plan requirements.

The reference to S144C and S144E above is important, as these sections of the Planning Act allow changes to be made by the proponent to the DA as part of the DA’s evaluation which are not publicly notified. The original DA only included two (2) commercial tenancies by the DA as approved now includes six (6) small tenancies (one of 150m2, the rest less then 100m2, ) as indicated in the plans below. Light Blue indicates a commercial tenancy, and the red markings indicate the amendments – click on the images to get a higher resolution PDF.

Block 3 Section 227 – Floorplan Level 1

Block 3 Section 227 – Floorplan Ground

Block 3 Section 227 – Elevation

GCC Budget Consultation Submissions

The ACT Government undertakes a public consultation as part of preparing each ACT budget. The budget for FY21-22 will be announced on 31 August 2021 and the FY21-22 consultation has recently closed.  The GCC’s submission reflects the issues we highlighted leading into the 2020 ACT Election, and have been advocating for during 2021 (mostly focussed on the town centre). The GCC also participated in a joint submission regarding community services in Gungahlin with Northside Community Service, Barnardos Australia and Canberra Police Community Youth Club (PCYC).

GCC Submission

Download (PDF, 611KB)

Joint Submission on Community Services in Gungahlin

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Reconsidered DA for The Establishment Approved

The reconsidered Development Application (DA) for the high-rise residential project known as The Establishment (formerly Air Towers) has been approved (with a long list of conditions). The GCC does not support this development and is very disappointed with this outcome.

What’s Going on With all the Work Being Done at The Establishment site ? provides a summary of the history of this development.

The Notice of Decision and the 60 page detailed attachment for the Reconsidered DA includes the following comments – key points underlined:

The original decision is amended as above because the revised proposal as provided by the applicant for reconsideration demonstrated that subject to the conditions of approval imposed in Attachment A, the proposal is not inconsistent with the Territory Plan.
The decision has been revised as a result of an application for reconsideration in accordance with Section 191 of the Planning and Development Act 2007 (Act).

Key issues identified in the assessment of the Reconsideration proposal are whether the proposed amendments results in a development that is substantially the same as the approved development as required by S198(6) of the Act, building appearance, amenity of future residents with increased yield, interface with adjoining childcare centre, ease of conversion of adaptable units, landscaping, resident access to on-site communal spaces, bicycle parking, noise mitigation measures, leasing and compliance with relevant entity requirements. The planning and land authority sought further information from the applicant to address these issues.

Consequently, the applicant submitted further information to address the above issues which revised the proposal generally as per the approved development. It is considered that after the amendment, the development approved will be substantially the same as the development for which approval was originally given.

In other words – Because the proposal is roughly the same as the DA approved in 2018 (which was a very poor decision with an associated very poor Notice of Decision), and it was consistent with the current Territory Plan (which is known and acknowledged to be broken), the proposal has been approved.

As noted above, the GCC is very disappointed with this outcome.

District Planning for Gungahlin Goes Online (ACT Planning System Reform)

District Planning for Gungahlin Goes Online (ACT Planning System Reform)

The ACT Planning System Review and Reform Project is a significant overhaul of the ACT Planning System. One of the changes proposed in the Reform is the concept of district planning and a district planning workshop for Gungahlin was held on 15 June (see District Planning in Gungahlin) – from which a listening report  has been produced.

The district planning process is now online for all residents to make a contribution until 18 July.

The online consultation begins with an overview of the aims of district planning and then asks for input across the five themes of the overall ACT Planning strategy as they apply to Gungahlin. The five themes are:

  • Compact and Efficient City
  • Diverse Canberra
  • Sustainable and Resilient Territory
  • Liveable Canberra
  • Accessible Canberra

For each theme there are a series of questions of questions to guide your response, and a map to indicate where your comments apply.

You should also review the Gungahlin District Information and the Gungahlin District Maps as they contain some crucial details about current planning policy, including (for example) where increased residential development is targeted (see the consolidated policy map).

Gungalin District Land Use Zones

Gungahlin District Natural Environment

Gungahlin District Consolidated Policy Plan

ACT Planning Reform

Three key issue being addressed by the Planning Reform project are (Planning System Review Overview, p. 16):

  1. The current system does not adequately accommodate consideration of design quality or development appropriateness, putting at risk the valued character of Canberra and its suburbs.
  2. The disconnect between strategic and statutory planning means the system is not well placed to address future planning challenges and aspirations of the long-term Planning Strategy.
  3. These issues, along with the general complexity of the system, is compromising the community’s confidence in the system and their ability to fully participate in planning and development.

District Planning

One of the proposed elements of the new planning system is the concept of district planning and district plans. The purpose of district plans, as described by EPSDD, is to “fill a gap in the current planning system” that presently exists between city-scale strategic documents (e.g. the ACT Planning Strategy 2018) and suburb-level planning (e.g. precinct codes in the Territory Plan).

The stated benefits of district plans are as follows:

  • Improves line-of-sight from Planning Strategy through to the Territory Plan.
  • Fills gaps between higher-level strategies, and their implementation through the statutory controls of the Territory Plan.
  • Includes current information about districts, including what is proposed in endorsed policy and strategy.
  • Sets future direction for districts around planning elements in consideration of how change might happen to accommodate the growth of Canberra.
  • Planning that suits the needs of each district:
    • growth and change in each district might be different
    • related to it attributes and to the city overall.