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]
- 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.
- 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.