The Gunghlin Town Centre Saga

[ Originally published by the Canberra Planning Action Group (CPAG) as The Gungahlin Town Centre – A Failed Planning System Case Study, 26 October 2021 ]

Introduction

It’s been an interesting year for Gungahlin:

  • On 10 February 2021 the ACT Assembly passed a motion moved by Suzanne Orr MLA “calling on the Government to support the further development of the Gungahlin region and town centre and outline how this might be achieved”[1].
  • On 27 April 2021 the Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) called for the sale of land in the Gungahlin Town Centre be halted to prevent the land being wasted on “mixed use” developments that were almost entirely residential and contributed little if anything to the commercial, retail, community, entertainment, or employment capacity of the town centre.
  • On 2 June 2021 the ACT Assembly passed a motion moved by Andrew Braddock MLA (on 11 May) calling for the Government to “direct the Suburban Land Agency to develop land in the Gungahlin Town Centre in a way that generates high quality outcomes for the community”[2].
  • On 3 August 2021 a petition with 714 signatures sponsored by Andrew Braddock MLA was lodged with the ACT Assembly calling for the ACT Government “to immediately suspend … the sale/auction of any … sites in the Gungahlin Town Centre”[3].
  • On 1 October the ACT Assembly’s Standing Committee on Planning, Transport and City Services published their report on the Committee’s Inquiry into Draft Variation (DV) 364 which proposed significant changes to the Gungahlin Town Centre Precinct Code. The committee wrote in their report that “the committee is of the opinion that the Draft Variation is not fully formed and that the technical documents don’t serve to realise the objectives of the town centre plans. The committee also questions how the DV will shape the town centre and interact with the indicative land releases to lead to the stated outcomes”[4].

Clearly the expectations of Gungahlin residents are not being met. This article outlines why, highlighting the failings of the ACT Planning System and the apparent absence of any processes within the ACT Government to ensure that Gungahlin is completed with all the services and facilities of a typical Canberra district.

Community Expectations

Canberra is famously laid out as a collection of “satellite towns”. A primary goal of this distributed-district design was to minimise commuting for work and to provide most of the education, health, community, sporting, recreation, retail, and entertainment services and facilities for the district’s residents within the district. These services and facilities are concentrated in a district’s town centre.

The district of Gungahlin was established in the north of Canberra in the early 1990s. Residents moving to Gungahlin have expected that the Gungahlin Town Centre would develop like the other Canberra town centres, centred around an employment base provided by a large (Federal) government agency office. For a greenfield district like Gungahlin, that is home to thousands of young families, having a major centre for employment within the local town centre has significant social and health implications. If workers don’t have long commutes, they have more quality time to spend with families and to build, belong and contribute to neighbourhood communities.

The early land use planning for the town centre was consistent with this expectation with substantial space identified for commercial office zoned appropriately in the ACT Territory Plan. As recently as 2010, the Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Report 2010 reflected this thinking “by reserving enough land for up to 200,000m2 of office space sufficient to accommodate 10,000 office jobs“[5].

Although reserving space for commercial offices within the town centre was necessary to enable such an outcome, history has shown that it was far from sufficient to ensure the Gungahlin town centre developed with the appropriate combination of facilities and services noted above, particularly employment. A few significant events and (in)actions have stunted the development of the town centre:

  • Prior to ACT self-government, the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) restricted the total amount of office space that could be developed in central Canberra, facilitating the construction of large commercial offices to support Federal government agencies in the town centres of Belconnen, Tuggeranong, and Woden. With the introduction of self-government, the NCDC was abolished, and no regulatory mechanism was put in place to guide/enforce where commercial space was developed and government agencies (the major employer in the ACT) were free to build offices wherever they please. The Gungahlin Town Centre is the first town centre that has been developed under self-government.
  • The sale of the Canberra Airport by the Federal government led to the development of a substantial employment hub in Canberra outside the town centres, significantly increasing options for employers and reducing demand for office space with the town centres.

These events have not been sufficiently mitigated by the ACT Government to foster the development of the Gungahlin Town Centre, and further:

  • The enforcement of the ACT Territory Plan, of which the Gungahlin Town Centre Precinct Code is part, has been weak, with significant variations from the ACT Territory Plan permitted at the per-site Development Application level, and erosion of the overall town centre plan through a series of territory plan variations and proposed variations.

Gungahlin Town Centre Refresh

This “weak enforcement” led to the appearance of several high-rise residential developments in the Gungahlin Town Centre from 2015 onwards[6] in the “precinct” of the Town Centre intended to be an Office Park. This led to widespread confusion, frustration, and concern within the Gungahlin community as this represented the loss of land that could support a future employment base, consistent with the Territory Plan and other Canberra town centres.

Gungahlin Town Centre Precincts (pre-DV364, August 2015). Precinct 2b (Office Park) is now almost entirely built out as high-rise residential mixed use. Precincts: 1a – Retail Core, 1b – Retail Core Mixed Use, 2a – Office Core, 2b – Office Park, 3a – Services and Trades, 3b – Major Community and Recreation Facilities, 4a – Southern Transition, 4b – Northern Transition

Residents have consistently indicated a strong desire for employment and services with the town centre rejecting increased residential development. The Gungahlin Community Survey in 2019 showed 85% of the 1,481 respondents wanted no more than 25% of the town centre space used for residential. This is hardly surprising given the very poor takeup of commercial/retail leases in the so-called mixed-use developments.

Gungahlin Community Survey 2019 – Q5 (1,481 responses) How much of the remaining Open Space in the Town Centre should be Residential? (vs. Business and Community Use)

Consequently, in November 2016 the Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) approached the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD):

“… regarding the transformation of the Office Park precinct into a very high density collection of mixed-use residential towers. It highlights the lack of cohesion there appears to be in how these developments are approved, particularly in the context of the overall town centre plan, and the community’s understanding of what is permitted.”[7]

EPSDD agreed to undertake “a place-making review of the Gungahlin precinct plan”[8] to examine:

  • Building height and character
  • Upgrading and enhancing public spaces
  • Walking, cycling and road transport

The consultation undertaken by The Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh (the Refresh) throughout 2017 included many different forms of engagement including a substantive evening workshop. The resultant Community Engagement Report published in May 2018[9] reflected much of this feedback fairly but also included the following comment in the key messages summary:

“mixed views about the potential for increasing building heights in the town centre. Concerns about increases in building height related to traffic congestion, bulk and scale, overshadowing, privacy and the interface with existing development. Support for increases in building height noted the changing character of the town centre, the need for marker buildings and the strong demand for residential development,”

All other references in the Community Engagement Report indicated strong opposition for increased residential development in the town centre consistent with the views expressed by most participants in the workshop, and residents through multiple channels. The portion of the observation underlined above therefore seemed out of place and appeared to reflect a minority position expressed by a property developer (or developers).

There was no further progress on the Refresh until the release of a document called the Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh – Snapshot in November 2018[10]. The GCC and the Gungahlin community were shocked to discover that the Snapshot recommended significant changes to the Gungahlin Precinct Code (Territory Plan) that had not been tabled and discussed during the Refresh. This included substantial changes to the amount of land zoned for commercial development (down to 65,000m­2), significant increases in the amount of land zoned for mixed-use development and an alternative approach for providing for community facilities.

The publication of the Snapshot signalled the end of the Refresh project prompting the GCC to write to EPSDD to express our concerns[11]:

… the Refresh moves Gungahlin away from the ACT stated goal of sustainability. Sustainability requires localisation of economic activity. The GCC Town Refresh continues the trend of centralisation of economic activity to Civic and the Northbourne Avenue corridor. It does this by halving the amount of space available for employment in the GCC Town Centre.

This is unacceptable as it is planned that only 14% of paid employment for Gungahlin residents is within the Gungahlin district and that includes home-based businesses and the industrial area of Mitchell.

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 introduction of new proposals (reducing the amount commercial space, increases in mixed-use developments, new mechanisms for handling community space, etc.) which were not exposed to the community for discussion, came as a complete shock.

Draft Variation 364

Almost a year after the Snapshot document was released, Draft Variation 364 to the ACT Territory Planning September 2019 was published for comment. DV364 is a revision to the Gungahlin Town Centre Precinct based on the Refresh Snapshot. The GCC’s submission highlighted the core issues yet again[12]:

  • Reduction of the Total Space Reserved for Commercial Development
    The GCC strongly recommends that the existing reservation of 100,000m2 for commercial space be retained and the ACT government explore mechanisms to develop/attract more commercial interest in Gungahlin
  • Repurposing of precinct 2a from “Office Core” to “Mixed Use East”
    The GCC recommends that the further residential (mixed-use) development be minimised (not maximised) as part of DV364 in precinct 2a.

The Variation had interim effect for 12 months which lapsed in August 2020, meaning that the previous Gungahlin Town Centre Precinct Code (dated 2015) became effective. This was followed by a period of silence until March 2021 when an update to the Draft Variation was suddenly published in response to the consultation (again, with interim effect, but only for a portion of the Town Centre).

None of the GCC’s recommendations were actioned in the update.

As a result of the strong advocacy from the GCC (eg. the Call to Suspend Land Sales mentioned at the beginning of this article), and from Yerrabi MLAs (eg. Suzanne Orr’s motion in the ACT Assembly), the Minister for Planning referred DV364 to the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Planning Transport and City Service (PTCS).

It was becoming increasingly obvious to the GCC that relying on just the ACT Planning System to deliver the outcomes expected by Gungahlin residents was hopeless. Not only is the Planning System acknowledged by the Chief Planner[13] and Minister for Planning[14] to be failing, other economic development incentives, investments or other mechanisms need to put in place to attract employment (or employment alternatives) to the town centre.

The response from the CEO of the Suburban Land Agency (John Dietz)[15], with the support of the Minister for Urban Development (Yvette Berry), was therefore welcomed as it not only acknowledged the issues raised by the GCC and the Gungahlin community, but also offered

… to work with the GCC on the place making of future land releases in the GTC [Gungahlin Town Centre]. This would include engagement on how the sale of these blocks are brought to the market, the provision of open space and interface with the linear park and future public realm.

Inquiry into Draft Variation 364

The Inquiry into Draft Variation 364 was very broad and examined not only the sequence of events and specifics of the Variation itself, but also the overall development of the Gungahlin Town Centre.

The GCC submission to the Inquiry[16] and appearance before the PTCS Committee addressed much of what is included in this article, as well as several specific observations on the Variation itself. The Inquiry also provided an opportunity for industry representatives to share their perspective on the Planning System and how that system contributed to the development outcomes in Gungahlin, particularly in relation to mixed-use developments. The GCC members found the industry feedback more in line with their own advocacy experiences compared to the feedback and responses provide by EPSDD and the Planning Minister.

When the Inquiry report was published on 1 October, 2021[17], it was welcomed by the GCC. Most importantly, the report acknowledges the GCC’s concerns outlined in this article. Moreover, the report’s recommendations are broadly consistent with the actions proposed in our petition, our requests to the Minister for Planning, and the motions moved by Suzanne Orr and Andrew Braddock passed by the ACT Assembly.

The GCC particularly noted the following comments of the Committee (our emphasis) from the report:

… The committee is of the opinion that the Draft Variation is not fully formed and that the technical documents don’t serve to realise the objectives of the town centre plans. The committee also questions how the DV will shape the town centre and interact with the indicative land releases to lead to the stated outcomes.

… The Committee is concerned by the methodology used to determine the demand for commercial land within the town centre and the subsequent decrease in land reserved for commercial use. Most concerning is that a commercial needs assessment was not undertaken to inform the decision that demand had in fact decreased. …

It was clear from all evidence before the Committee that mixed use development and the planning settings are very broad and not necessarily achieving the outcomes the Government, community or developers are wanting. The testimony highlighted the obstacles to achieving a mixed use precinct when developers only have responsibility for one single block and how a precinct scale development has more potential to achieve the outcomes sought.

The GCC strongly recommends the ACT Government adopt all 8 of the Inquiry report’s recommendations, paying careful attention to the following two:

RECOMMENDATION 1

To inform the Territory Plan planning regulations a thorough investigation be completed by the ACT Government that:

· identifies retail, community and commercial activity that can prosper in the town centre including activities that can anchor further growth;

· identifies options for the ACT Government to support potential commercial activity through appropriate land provision and complementary policy settings; and

· the findings of the investigation be used to inform the sale and development requirements of future land releases in the town centre.

RECOMMENDATION 3

In order to realise the objectives of the planning provisions, the ACT Government amend the indicative land release program so that the unsold blocks in Gungahlin East precinct:

· be sold as a precinct rather than as individual blocks;

· have contractual and lease requirements applied to the sale to deliver a precinct that includes retail, business, and community facility developments;

· apply a maximum number of residential dwellings allowable so that residential dwellings are not the primary or majority use;

· apply a minimum square metre requirement for commercial development; and

· be designed in consultation with the community.

Next Steps

It’s widely acknowledged that the residents of Gungahlin have got the Government’s attention! The Indicative Land Release Program (ILRP) 2021-22 – 2025-26[18] released with the ACT budget on 6 October 2021 states:

It is noted that Gungahlin town centre is currently subject to a planning review through Draft Variation to the Territory Plan No. 364 (Gungahlin town centre), an inquiry by the ACT Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Planning, Transport and City Services and two resolutions of the ACT Legislative Assembly. The outcomes of these, will be considered further and responded to in the next ILRP.

(as well as the petition calling for land sales in the Town Centre to be suspended).

It may be that the Minister for Planning has given up on Gungahlin[19], but the ACT Government needs to formally acknowledge there are serious issues with the development of the Gungahlin Town Centre and take immediate and specific action to address the shortfall in employment, retail, community, and entertainment services.

The GCC is aware of the ACT Planning Systems Reform Project[20] but has serious concerns about its relevance given that its implementation will take many months (years?), notwithstanding that the details of the new Planning System are yet to be revealed to the community. There is a time imperative in Gungahlin with the few remaining blocks of land zoned for “mixed-use” continuing to be brought to market.

The Planning System needs to be supported by substantive and concrete incentives, investments, or other mechanisms to attract employment (or employment alternatives) to the town centre, and to ensure the development of the remaining sites contributes substantially to the viability of the Town Centre. The community, industry and government must be brought together to do better than we are doing now.

Progressing Draft Variation 364 in its current form and continued dismissal of these issues will confirm the ACT government is committed to nothing but further residential development and the completion of Gungahlin as a dormitory district.

References

[1] https://www.parliament.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/1701999/Matters-of-public-importance_Issue-1-2021_12-February-2021.pdf

[2] https://www.parliament.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/1769595/MoP016F7.pdf

[3] https://epetitions.act.gov.au/ClosedEPetition.aspx?PetId=173&lIndex=-1

[4] https://www.parliament.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/1865792/PTCS-Report-5-DV-364-Gungahlin-Town-Centre-Amendments-to-the-Gungahlin-Precinct-Map-and-Code.pdf

[5] https://www.planning.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/898239/GTC_Planning_Report_web_2.pdf

[6] https://gcc.asn.au/getting-development-right-for-the-town-centre-the-gungahlin-residential-towers-story/

[7] https://gcc.asn.au/gcc/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/GaryRake-1.pdf

[8] https://gcc.asn.au/gcc/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/GaryRake-2016-2.pdf

[9] https://yoursayconversations.act.gov.au/download_file/2936/612

[10] https://yoursayconversations.act.gov.au/download_file/2929/612

[11] https://gcc.asn.au/gcc/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/GCC-Town-Refresh-Response.pdf

[12] https://gcc.asn.au/gcc-submission-to-gungahlin-town-centre-planning-refresh-dv364/

[13] https://the-riotact.com/dated-system-forces-planning-authority-to-approve-imperfect-developments-admits-ponton/443309

[14] https://www.cmtedd.act.gov.au/open_government/inform/act_government_media_releases/gentleman/2021/fresh-start-for-planning-system

[15] https://gcc.asn.au/gcc/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Corrospondence-SLA-GCC-May-2021.pdf [16] https://gcc.asn.au/dv364-inquiry-gcc-submission-and-hearings/

[17] https://www.parliament.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/1865792/PTCS-Report-5-DV-364-Gungahlin-Town-Centre-Amendments-to-the-Gungahlin-Precinct-Map-and-Code.pdf

[18] https://www.planning.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/1870422/2021-22-to-2025-26-Indicative-Land-Release-Program.pdf

[19] https://gcc.asn.au/minister-gentleman-gives-up-on-gungahlin/

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

 

ACT Government Response to Gungahlin Town Centre Motions and Petition

On 11 November 2021, The Minister for Planning, Mick Gentleman, released the ACT Government’s response to the petition and the two motions that were key elements of the GCC’s “Stop the Sales of Land in the Town Centre campaign”. The responses are summarised in a Ministerial Statement given in the ACT Assembly, and detailed in a letter to the Clark of the Assembly related to the Petition and a Statement in Response to the motions. A detailed summary of the lead up to and the actions undertaken as part of the Call to Suspend Lands Sales was published recently by the Canberra Planning Action Group (CPAG) – see The Gungahlin Town Centre – A Failed Planning System Case Study.

As a reminder, the only other formal response to the GCC’s campaign was the immediate response and commitment by the Suburban Land Agency (SLA) as detailed in their letter of 6 May to:

offer the opportunity to work with the GCC on the place making of future land releases in the GTC [Gungahlin Town Centre]. This would include engagement on how the sale of these blocks are brought to the market, the provision of open space and interface with the linear park and future public realm.”

The responses to the petition and motions add very little to the SLA’s commitment. It’s hard to see how the government will achieve the goal set out in the Gungahlin Town Centre Report 2010 of “reserving enough land for up to 200,000 m2 of office space sufficient to accommodate 10,000 office jobs.”

There are 18 “asks” (or “calls”) in the two motions. The government has indicated that 7 are AGREED, 2 are NOTED and 9 and AGREED IN-PRINCIPLE. “Agreed in-principle” usually means that no further action will be taken, and this is certainly the case regarding this response which cite the flawed consultations undertaken by EPSDD in recent years, the promise of change as part of the Reform of The ACT Planning System which is unlikely to be in place until 2023-24 and hence too late, and process and policies that have demonstrably failed.

The only additional “actions” that the GCC has been able to identify in the response to the motions, in addition to the SLA’s commitment, are that:

  • The Government will “prepare an employment prospectus on the benefits of Gungahlin and the Gungahlin Town Centre … provided to the Commonwealth Finance Minister” (which has been done many times before, so not much confidence this will achieve a result), and
  • “traffic flows will continue to be monitored and any necessary improvements will be considered by Government” (hardly very convincing).

Similarly, the response to the petition does not acknowledge the validity of the community’s concerns and includes no further actions other than the “employment prospectus” noted above.

Overall, the responses to both the petition and the motions are largely dismissive and devoid of any creative thinking.

Focus now falls to how the government’s (overdue) response to the inquiry into DV364. The GCC has asked for the issues identified to be acknowledged, and specific, timely actions to address the specific and unique issues in Gungahlin – it may well be that a failure to do so will result in the current campaign extending into a second year.

The ACT Government had indicated they will respond to the recommendations of the Inquiry into DV364 by 30 January 2022,  but have not done so yet.

Throsby School School Community Use EOI

Are you a local community or sporting group looking for some space? The Education Directorate are now seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) from not-for-profit organisations for the hire and use of Gungahlin’s newest community facilities at the school in Throsby, opening in 2022. Organisations will be able to use the facilities when they are not in use by the school. Spaces available for hire at the school include the double – sized gymnasium and facilities, performance stage and 2 music rooms.

Interested community groups will need to register with the Tenders ACT to be able to provide a response to the EOI, refer to  https://tenders.act.gov.au/tender/view?id=235657

[ Provided by ACT Education Directorate ]

Information on planned accommodation changes to be made at the Gungahlin Joint Emergency Services Centre.

[ Information provided by Australian Federal Police, 15 November 2021 ]

Gungahlin Police Station (https://mygungahlin.com.au/anxious-gungahlin-waits-on-police-station-study/8224/)

Earlier this year, The ACT Government announced significant changes to how emergency services are housed in the Gungahlin district.

Part of that announcement was a plan for the Gungahlin Joint Emergency Services Centre (JESC) that currently holds ACT Policing as well as the ACT Ambulance Service (ACTAS), ACT Fire & Rescue (ACT F&R), State Emergency Service (SES) and Rural Fire Service (RFS).

It is well known that due to population growth and increasing demand for services this facility is no longer suitable to house multiple emergency service agencies and ACT Policing is pleased that a sensible and planned approach has been agreed by the ACT Government.

Ultimately, ACT Policing will occupy the whole site, with renovations and modifications to be made to ensure it is fit for our purposes.

The first changes that will occur will be the SES and RFS moving from the facility to accommodation in Mitchell in 2022. Minor building works will be conducted to allow ACT Policing to increase its office space in the building.

A master design will then be developed for ACT Policing to ultimately assume full occupancy of the current JESC site once ACTAS and ACT F&R relocate.

At all times the agencies that currently work out of the JESC will continue to provide their day to day services to the residents, businesses and visitors to Gungahlin. While there may be some disruptions to our accommodation, we will continue to respond to calls for assistance each and every day.

This increase in emergency services accommodation in Gungahlin recognises the continued growth of the district and we look forward continuing to work together in the coming months and years.

GCC 2021 AGM and Public Meeting 8 December

The 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Gungahlin Community Council Inc., and December public meeting, will be held in the Gungahlin Club, 51 Hinder Street, Gungahlin commencing at 6.30pm on Wednesday 8 December 2021. The AGM will be held first.

The AGM and meeting will be face-to-face (not online using Zoom). As usual the meeting will be live streamed on Facebook via the GCC Facebook page.

Persons wishing to attend the AGM are strongly encouraged to sign up as a GCC member (it’s FREE!) as only registered members can vote in the event of an election for an executive position.

Public Meeting

Agenda

  • GCC Update, President, GCC
  • Marketplace Stage 4 Update, Phil Knackstedt, Vinta Group
  • Yerrabi Pond Upgrade, Ken Marshall, TCCS
  • Gold Creek Homestead Retirement Living/Aged-Care Update, Lendlease

Annual General Meeting

All executive committee positions will be declared vacant and nominations are now open for the office-bearer positions of President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Public Officer and up to five other Committee Members.

The GCC is a volunteer organisation that advocates for and on behalf of the district of Gungahlin as outlined in What We Do. Our recent activities has been focussed on improving the community’s engagement with the ACT government and ensuring Gungahlin is completed with all the services and facilities residents expect of a Canberra district:

The GCC organises and hosts monthly public meetings. The GCC executive also meets once per month and much of the business of the executive is undertaken online through email, social media, our web site and other online tools. We engage with a wide range of ACT government agencies, MLA’s and Ministers, and members of the executive participate in a number of forums to better interact with the Gungahlin community. The work of the GCC is captured in our newsletters and annual reports (eg. 2020, 2019, 2018).

If you know someone who may be interested in the work of the Gungahlin Community Council, please pass this information on to them.

You must be a registered GCC member to nominate for an executive committee position (signup as a member). A person is not eligible to nominate to be an Office-Bearer of the Council if the person is;

(a) an Executive Officer of a registered political party;
(b) a person employed by a registered political party;
(c) a registered candidate for a forthcoming election; or
(d) an elected member of the ACT Legislative Assembly or any Parliament or a person who has been pre-selected or has nominated for a forthcoming election to any of the aforementioned bodies; or
(e) an office bearer in a commercial or industrial lobby group registered with the Federal or ACT Government.

Nominations should be sent by emailing a completed NOMINATION FORM to the Secretary (secretary@gcc.asn.au) no later than 6.00 pm Wednesday 1 December 2021. All nominations will be acknowledged by return email.

AGM Agenda

1. Opening and welcome
2. Apologies
3. Minutes of previous AGM held on 2 December 2020
4. Presentation of President’s Report for 2020-21
5. Presentation of Treasurer’s Report (Financial Reports & Reviewers Statement)

6. Appointment of Public Officer
7. Election of office bearers & general committee members for 2021-22
8. General Business

Pre-DA Consultation Canberra Business and Technical College (Block 4 Section 246 Gungahlin)

Pre-DA Consultation Canberra Business and Technical College (Block 4 Section 246 Gungahlin)

JUDD Studio are undertaking the pre Development Application (DA) for Block 4 Section 246 Gungahlin, a site purchased by the Canberra Business and Technical College (CBTC). A presentation was given at the GCC Public Meeting on 13 October (video available) and further details and the ability to provide feedback can be found at the JUDD Studio website.

Two online sessions are being provided by JUDD Studio to described the updated project (click to register):

GCC Public Meeting 10 November

GCC Public Meeting 10 November

The next public meeting of the Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) will be held on Wednesday 10 November 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

  • GCC Update
  • Suburban Land Agency Mega Update – Gungahlin Town Centre, Jacka 2, Jacka Community-Battery, Taylor+Moncrief commercial sites
  • Community-Owned, Community Batteries, Kevin Cox
    This talk will explain what a community battery is and why they are important to Gungahlin. The ACT government has committed to providing community batteries and are seeking ideas on how to choose who will own the batteries. The presentation will outline a proposal for a co-operative of Gungahlin households to finance and own community batteries for Jacka.
  • TBC

Three Gungahlin Roads in ACT Top Ten Accident Locations

AAMI publish an annual national Crash Index based on motor accident insurance claims across their various companies. Their 2021 results for Canberra includes 3 Gungahlin roads in the top ten list for accidents all of which are new entrants to the list:

The report notes that “Many of these roads take commuters to and from the city centre”. The GCC has written to the Minister for Transport, who spoke at the GCC’s May 2021 meeting, seeking a response to this data.

Pre-DA Consultation Block 8 Section 51 Taylor

Bronte Group is conducting pre-DA community consultation on behalf of the landowners in relation to a proposed residential development on Block 8 Section 51 Taylor. The development offers a range of dwelling typologies including 30 apartments and 42 townhouses. The site currently provides for a vacant parcel of land located adjacent to the future Taylor Local Centre.

As part of the preparation of the Development Application for on the subject site, the Proponent is undertaking a program of Community Information and Consultation to engage with the neighbouring community and key stakeholders. In relation to the information presented by the Proponent and the Design Team, we would appreciate any comments you may have regarding the proposal.

The virtual information session will be held on Tuesday the 26th of October from 5pm to 6pm. To register for the information session, send your name, surname and email address to admin@canberratownplanning.com.au. The link to the meeting will be sent to you by the 25th of October 2021. On the day, use the link and follow the prompts to the meeting.

For further information and to provide feedback on the proposed design, please visit https://www.brontegroup.com.au/elia-community-consultation or contact Canberra Town Planning at admin@canberratownplanning.com.au or (02) 6262 5091.

GCC Welcomes Inquiry into DV364 Report

The GCC welcomes the report of the Inquiry into Draft Variation 364 undertaken by the ACT Assembly Standing Committee on Planning, and strongly recommends the ACT Government adopt all of the Committee’s recommendations as a matter of urgency. It should be noted that the members of the Committee represent all three political parties in the ACT Assembly – we thank them for their work and report.

The report acknowledges the concerns that have been raised by the GCC as part of our Call to Suspend Land Sales campaign, and its recommendations are broadly inline with the actions proposed in our petition, our requests to the Minister for Planning (Example 1, Example 2), and the motions proposed by Suzanne Orr and Andrew Braddock passed by the ACT Assembly.

The current planning and development settings and processes are not facilitating the development of a Town Centre with all the employment, retail, community, and entertainment services Gungahlin residents expect of a town centre. To improve the outcomes of any further land sales within the Town Centre, it is imperative that the ACT Government action the recommendations of the Inquiry urgently, as further land releases are expected in the ACT budget to be announced on 6 October 2021.

The GCC notes in particular the following comments of the Committee (our emphasis):

  • The committee is of the opinion that the Draft Variation is not fully formed and that the technical documents don’t serve to realise the objectives of the town centre plans. The committee also questions how the DV will shape the town centre and interact with the indicative land releases to lead to the stated outcomes. [4.10]
  • The Committee is concerned by the methodology used to determine the demand for commercial land within the town centre and the subsequent decrease in land reserved for commercial use. Most concerning is that a commercial needs assessment was not undertaken to inform the decision that demand had in fact decreased. … [5.13]
  • It was clear from all evidence before the Committee that mixed use development and the planning settings are very broad and not necessarily achieving the outcomes the Government, community or developers are wanting. The testimony highlighted the obstacles to achieving a mixed use precinct when developers only have responsibility for one single block and how a precinct scale development has more potential to achieve the outcomes sought. [5.26]

Report Recommendations

RECOMMENDATION 1
To inform the Territory Plan planning regulations a thorough investigation be completed by the ACT Government that:
  • identifies retail, community and commercial activity that can prosper in the town centre including activities that can anchor further growth;
  • identifies options for the ACT Government to support potential commercial activity through appropriate land provision and complementary policy settings; and
  • the findings of the investigation be used to inform the sale and development requirements of future land releases in the town centre.
RECOMMENDATION 2
The Committee recommends the ACT Government remove criterion 43 and the new R44 from DV364 in order to reserve priority commercial space.
RECOMMENDATION 3
In order to realise the objectives of the planning provisions, the ACT Government amend the indicative land release program so that the unsold blocks in Gungahlin East precinct:
  • be sold as a precinct rather than as individual blocks;
  • have contractual and lease requirements applied to the sale to deliver a precinct that includes retail, business, and community facility developments;
  • apply a maximum number of residential dwellings allowable so that residential dwellings are not the primary or majority use;
  • apply a minimum square metre requirement for commercial development; and
  • be designed in consultation with the community.
RECOMMENDATION 4
If the remaining blocks in the Gungahlin East Precinct are sold as individual blocks, the Committee recommends the ACT Government maintain a commercial zoning for these blocks and apply a maximum number of residential dwellings and a minimum square metre requirement for commercial development permitted for each block to ensure that residential dwellings are not the primary or majority use.
RECOMMENDATION 5
The ACT Government apply the provision for an additional two storeys of building height to all blocks with height limit provisions in the town centre.
RECOMMENDATION 6
The Committee recommends active travel and vehicle and parking arrangements are reconsidered following the completion of the traffic and transport assessments being undertaken by Transport Canberra and City Services.
RECOMMENDATION 7
The Committee recommends active frontage placements are reconsidered with priority to having active frontages in areas identified as pedestrian throughfares.
RECOMMENDATION 8
The Committee recommends the study area for the Gungahlin Town Centre Draft Variation be extended to incorporate Yerrabi Pond recreational and commercial area and the key connections of Gungahlin Place north of Anthony Rolfe Ave and Nellie Hamilton Ave as well as Camtamessa Avenue.