A 102-bed aged care facility is planned for a block of land in Deakin that was occupied by the Margaret Dimoff Art Gallery, formerly known as the Solander Gallery. The 2973 square-metre site is located on the corner of Hopetoun Circuit and Grey Street next to Canberra Girls Grammar School.

The proposal can be downloaded here

DRA held a public meeting on the proposal in August 2017.

Tony Powell AO, former National Capital Development Commissioner and a vocal critic of development activity in Canberra, spoke on 24 Oct about how to improve planning.  His title was ‘“KILLING CANBERRA” – coping with an incompetent ACT Government and the corruption of due process”.   His background paper and speaking notes are on the DRA website. Two key points were:

“What is needed is a planning organisation with a core of professional staff of the order of 100, civil engineers, transport planners, town and regional planners, architects, landscape planners and designers, economists, sociologists, project development managers, writers, publishers and public relations managers so as to be in a state of constant engagement with the local community, business  and trade interests, and thus dispense with the current practice of heavy reliance on external consultants which is largely unreliable and inefficient.”
“There is a widespread public apathy on the part of my children’s generation to become involved in town planning and social issues generally, and consequently there is a need for them to give more consideration to the effectiveness of political parties at election time because it is leading to the rise of the ‘professional politician’, which is not a good thing.”



Canberra’s Planning and Building rules.  How can they be improved?

PUBLIC FORUM Tuesday 12 September 2017
7.00 pm Eastlake Football Club,
3 Oxley St, Griffith


7:00 pm – Introduction: Marea Fatseas, Chair ISCCC.
7:05 pm – Opening remarks by Rachel Stephen-Smith, Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, on behalf of Mick Gentleman, Minister for Planning and Land Management
7:10 pm – Presentation by Ben Ponton, Director General, Environment Planning and Sustainable Development on Planning in Canberra
7:25 pm – Presentation by David Peffer, Deputy Director General, Access Canberra, on building regulation and enforcement
7:35 pm -Presentation by Gary Petherbridge, President, Owners Corporation Network Canberra on apartment building construction issues and rectification of problems
7:45 pm – Q&A with panel of the three speakers
8:45 pm – Chair ISCCC – Possible motions from the floor and wrap-up

Download agenda


The following link contains a record prepared by the DRA, plus commentary and views  from Purdon Planning.

Approximately 83 people attended a public meeting convened by the Deakin Residents Association (DRA) held at the Canberra Bridge Club on 16 August 2017.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss two proposed developments in Deakin –

  • redevelopment of the St Luke’s church site in Newdegate Street (Block 1 Section 30 Deakin) and
  • redevelopment of the art gallery site bordering Hopetoun Circuit and Grey Street (Block13 Section 49 Deakin).

Proponents of the proposed developments addressed the meeting and comments and questions followed from the floor.

A questionnaire was circulated to each participant inviting written comments on the proposals, as well as views on the need for more integrated planning of development in Deakin.

A record of the meeting is at  RECORD OF DRA PUBLIC MEETING held 16 August 2107

Landscapes uncluttered with advertisements used to be one of Canberra’s
defining attributes. In recent years ugly signs have proliferated, and are getting
bigger. With this proposal there would be even more of them.
One of the most striking impacts of crossing the border into Queanbeyan is the
sudden appearance of bigger signs. Proposals to allow billboards will bring
Queanbeyan visual pollution to Canberra.
Current regulations on sign size are not enforced. There are already billboards
outside the Deakin shops advertising pizzas, and outside the National Zoo to
name two. Fyshwick and Philip are becoming an unregulated free for all.
Poles that were placed on Kings and Commonwealth Avenues to enable flags to
be flown for visiting heads of state are now used as fluttering billboards to
advertise everything from dog shows to exhibitions at the national institutions.
Canberra airport has been a law unto itself, and is a foretaste of the size of the
massive billboards that could follow a relaxation of current (unreinforced)
There are already too many road signs. Parking signs proliferate. Why not do
away with most urban parking signs and use procedures in the other local
government jurisdictions and in the ANU. Red paint on the gutter – no stopping; a
double yellow line – no parking; single yellow line – one or two hour parking; and a
dashed line longer parking.
Within 100 m of Hopetoun Circuit roundabout there are 20 signs, including a ‘billboard’
advertising Calthorpe’s House. Some seek to control speeds from 50 to 60
and a 40 km/h zone which is 75 m long. Drivers have enough distractions.
No more bigger signs.
George Wilson
Deakin Residents Association
Ph 62812160

The shortage of parking at the Equinox Building  is causing overflows of 50 – 100 cars into the adjacent former bowling club site  and nearby residential streets.

Current proposal to develop the former bowling club site as Equinox 2 will likely see additional parking shortages.

Redevelopment of the Telstra building in Kent Street and St Luke’s Church Newdegate Street will add additional pressure and increase traffic.

DRA is concerned that ACT Government does not see these new developments as creating a parking shortage problem and traffic  – but rather, a mechanism to discourage car use. See correspondence with officials which follows :

  • “I understand your concern, but our parking policies are designed to balance provision of private vehicle parking with encouraging modal shift towards more sustainable transport modes rather than single-driver-private-car. We do not support providing a dedicated car park (free or at-cost) for every person who may wish to drive to an employment node.”
  • “There is no government policy that would provide more taxpayer funded free parking in a central area such as West Deakin with existing high levels of service and accessibility for public transport and active travel (walking and cycling) – and nor would I advise a government to adopt such a policy.”

DRA understands that free car parking will be removed in the Geils Court and other West Deakin car parks and that pay parking will be reintroduced notwithstanding that it proved so undesirable in early 2016.

Parking was restricted in Beauchamp St on a trial basis for 12 months after limited public consultation of potentially affected residents in the area. It seems likely, the Government will introduce more parking restrictions wherever overflows exist, thereby changing the nature of our residential streets.  This could affect any street within walking distance (ie several hundred metres) of the West Deakin offices, Deakin shops, or busy locations – which is most of Deakin.  This would convert most of Deakin into a no-parking, or 2-hour only zone so that residents will lose the ability to park all day outside their own homes. It wil fill the suburb with ugly signs.


DRA believes there is a needs for a parking and traffic strategy that considers proposed developments and needs of residents.

The meeting on 16th considered proposals by

  • the Anglican church for eight ‘supportive housing’ units on St Luke’s Church site, Newdegate Street (Block 1 Section 30 Deakin)
  • Provectus  for a 90 bed residential aged care accommodation, 12 assisted living units, plus 40 seniors respite places on the Art Gallery site, 38 Grey Street (Block 13 Section 49  Deakin) 

The meeting was attended by 83 people. Most were Deakin residents.

In general, there was  support for the St Luke’s development, although there were concerns about the possible sub lease arrangements.

On the other hand, there was angst about the Grey Street development. Questions were asked about increased traffic, pedestrian safety, off site parking, underestimation of parking impact, increased noise (especially for those in the Ambassador apartments), building design, local shadowing, over-scale and inappropriate development for the site.

Resolving traffic, parking and congestion issues are key requirements for progressing the Provectus proposal. Quality data and professional credible modelling are the foundation of solutions.
A questionaire circulated at the meeting proposed that individual proposals in the suburb should not to be considered in isolation but be part of a strategic assessment that integrated with other developments. There was strong support that the accumulated impact should be assessed of the Anglican and Provectus developments and those by the Federal Golf Club, the Telstra site on Kent St, Equinox_2, light rail park and ride and overflow parking from West Deakin offices and Parliament.


Follow this link to see answers (dated 28 July) from Purdon Planning to questions about the planned Grey Street site/Provectus development.

For more information: 0427975500.


The ACT Government  is facilitating a ‘community panel’ to engage with the Federal Golf Club and their developer in relation to proposed future development of part of the Federal Golf course for retirement housing. They are inviting a range of organisations to participate in the community panel, including ISCCC, Red Hill Regenerators, Hughes/Garran residents groups, Deakin Residents Association, and Conservation Council. The first meeting was on 3 August 2017 6.30-8.30pm and second meeting 15 August 6.30-8.30pm at the Club, Gowrie Drive, Red Hill. Members interested in the proposal might like to participate. More information on the proposal is at the link on DRA web site.


Proposed plan for housing development on Federal Golf Course, Red Hill

29 Jun / 2017

Deakin Has History

Under this topic we are collecting and presenting information on the history of the suburb of Deakin – its origins, its development, its residents.
If you are a long-time resident or have family connections to Deakin, or if you have any contribution or comment to make on the history of Deakin, please contact the coordinator of this section: Richard Thwaites.


The Deakin Residents’ Association (DRA) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the National Capital Authority (NCA) Issues and Policy Response Paper, May 2017 relating to the Deakin/Forrest Residential Precinct

The objects and purposes of the DRA are ‘to enhance the residential, suburban, social and environmental qualities of Deakin, consistent with garden city planning principles’. A key focus for the DRA is retaining Deakin’s garden-suburb environment.

We note that the focus of the NCA paper relates to a relatively small number of residential properties ‘on the area generally bound by Canterbury Crescent, National Circuit, Hobart Avenue and blocks fronting State Circle’, although the area outlined in Figure 2 of the document shows blocks on State Circle itself are not included.

DRA agrees that this Paper represents an opportunity to determine whether current planning and design controls remain adequate to guide the future of this precinct and for consideration of policy responses to significant emerging and strategic issues in the zone. We understand that, had the proposals now foreshadowed in the NCA’s Paper been in force, some of the recent developments/redevelopments which have taken place, and which have been controversial, would not have been approved.

These comments are based largely on discussions at the NCA briefing provided on 27 April 2017, inspections by Committee members Helen Alnutt and Mary Baumgarten of relevant developments in the zone as identified in Fig 3, and developments in adjacent areas (Arthur Circ, Bougainville St/Empire Circ, Hotham Cres), and consultation with and feedback from local residents, particularly property owners in Canterbury Crescent.

DRA broadly supports the thrust of the strategic directions and proposals outlined in the Paper, as these are consistent with the objects and purposes of the DRA, subject to the comments provided below.

At the 27 April meeting, it was stated that the main changes relate to:

  • Plot building to planting ratio ;
  • Site coverage including driveways;
  • Amount and use of land available for soft landscaping.

Plot Building to Planting Ratio

DRA supports the NCA’s proposal to maintain the existing plot ratio that limits building on residential sites in the zone to a maximum of 0.4 (alongside a new 40% area of soft landscaping).

At the same time we note that one resident of the area, questioned whether the 0.4 plot ratio/40% soft planting limit was too restrictive, given the significant amount of public parkland already in the area, particularly around The Lodge and Parliament House and that current parking restrictions in, streets such as Canterbury Crescent, (no parking on one side and 2 hour parking on the other during weekdays) put pressure on residents to provide extra parking on their property. While generally supportive of the NCA’s position, the DRA suggests that any individual request for a minor variation to the 0.4 building/40% soft planting ratio could be considered on its merits.

Other residents felt that it was not the 0.4 plot ratio that was a problem but rather the number of dwellings on a block. These residents proposed that the current ratio should be maintained but be accompanied by a limit on the number of dwellings allowed to be established on a block. This would curtail motivation to remove trees to maximise development. An option for containing an unacceptable density in multi-unit developments is to require a ratio of (say) a maximum of one residential dwelling per 600sqm of land. This would serve to enhance the ‘Garden City’ concept of the precinct

Local residents also considered that amalgamations outside of what is allowed under Amendment 39 relating to State Circle should specifically be disallowed. This would deter the construction of ‘concrete jungle’ edifices, reducing the prestige of this historically significant area as well as adversely affecting amenity for neighbours and increasing traffic congestion, noise and parking.

Soft Landscaping

The NCA’s Paper makes a new proposal that not less than 40% of the block must be set aside for soft planting. We understand that is to deal with previously inexact language about soft planting requirements in the zone. This is a welcome new development.

The Paper also recommends and DRA supports a range of measures proposed by the NCA to strengthen the current landscape requirements of the Plan. Along with proposals for setting quantitative controls to provide certainty in respect of the extent of soft landscaping to be provided across a site, these include encouraging hedges in lieu of fences, and limiting the amount of hard surfaces to reduce stormwater run-off. Limitations would also be placed on the number of driveways.

DRA notes that increased flexibility for dual occupancy siting would also potentially increase significant planting opportunities. The narrow corridors between dual occupancy dwellings to provide separation can be wasted areas with overshadowing, insufficient space for significant plantings and privacy concerns. It is suggested a range of imaginative and creative proposals for dual occupancies be considered to maximise the area for and benefits of soft landscaping and options for canopy tress surrounds, to enhance the “Garden City” concept. The Paper proposes limitations to the number of driveways. It is suggested that two driveways be allowed only if needed for direct access to existing above ground garages.

While mandatory increased requirements on soft landscaping may aid preservation, it can add interest to consider different approaches, for example, the Japanese style pebble garden at 14 Melbourne Avenue.


Trees are a major focus of the Plan. The Paper proposes that large, established trees should be retained, that new trees, capable of reaching heights twice that of the proposed building should be provided as part of all proposed redevelopment proposals and each plot should have at least one canopy tree. It also proposes new and existing tree should cover 15% canopy coverage of a site within 10 years of development. This is consistent with the need to preserve essential green infrastructure in this zone close to the Lodge and Parliament.

We understand that where adverse impacts or safety concerns may arise in relation to existing or proposed trees, advice will be sought from suitably qualified arborists or horticulturalists. In DRA’s view it will be important for the NCA to ensure that such people provide genuine independent advice and are not merely sympathetic nominees of builders or developers. The NCA should also obtain photographic evidence of tree cover on the block before and after development with developer penalties for trees that should not have been removed.

DRA notes that street trees are an important are an important feature of the NCA precinct landscape. However, responsibility for them rests with the ACT Government rather than the NCA or individual landowners. This can result in inaction or neglect. For example, residents commented on some street trees in Canterbury Crescent which are severely deformed and where branches fall unexpectedly (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Deformed trees that need attention

DRA recommends that the NCA works closely with the ACT Government to repair or replace unsightly or dangerous trees. Canterbury Crescent is an important connecting street from Parliament House to the Lodge and often serves as a loop street for tourist buses.

One individual resident of the area considers that the provision of canopy trees should be at the discretion of individual landowners. This same resident recommended that the preferred location for canopy trees was on wide nature strips where roots and leaves do not interfere with buildings, pavements and utility services. However, the DRA believes the NCA’s proposal is laudable and consistent with the Garden City principles supported by DRA and that the outcome of the NCA proposals will be desirable on both aesthetic and environmental grounds.


DRA has some questions about compliance matters. While issues such as building height, setbacks and siting of buildings are easily quantified, others such as architectural appropriateness or status of soft landscaping and garden design are more subjective and less so. Who will decide on and monitor such things?

Performance Standards

The Paper states that quantitative standards are accompanied by performance standards and that compliance with quantitative standards will not necessarily result in Works Approval unless the performance standards have been met. This wording is very unclear and does not reference relevant standards. DRA notes that performance standards are spelt out in the NCA’s Design and Siting Code Design and Siting General Code but they need to be spelt out explicitly in the Paper to avoid ambiguity.

Diplomatic Missions

DRA understands that proposals outlined in the Paper do not apply to some Diplomatic Missions, particularly in the Somers Crescent area. It is unclear whether other Diplomatic Missions, for example the residence and chancery of Cambodia and the residence of the Myanmar Embassy on the opposite side of Melbourne Avenue, are similarly included.

DRA considers it important to spell out what restrictions, if any, do apply to the development of diplomatic premises in the NCA zone. DRA considers there should be in principle adherence to the same requirements as other similar structures in the zone. Exemptions should only be granted where the Diplomatic Missions can show that they are essential, such as for security reasons, or the need/wish for structures to reflect their national and international significance.

Advice on Proposed Developments/Redevelopments

Many residents expressed concern that they were largely unaware of proposed developments/redevelopments in the precinct area. This means that they are missing out on the opportunity to comment prior to any approval being granted. We understand the NCA is looking at this issue. One possibility would be for DRA and Forrest Residents Group to be advised of any proposals to allow them to then pass this information on to members/residents.

Wider Application

The NCA’s Paper states that many of the proposals outlined in it would be applicable to other parts of Canberra. DRA strongly agrees. There is no reason to suggest that, while technically the precinct ends at, for example National Circuit, such proposals should not be replicated in other parts of Deakin. Recent developments and proposed redevelopments in nearby parts of “Old Deakin”, for example 34 Melbourne Avenue, are a case in point.

Equally, many of the newer developing suburbs in Canberra, for example, West Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Molonglo, where there almost no trees and concrete pavements and lack of nature strips abound, could benefit from the application of these principles.

DRA believes it is regrettable that the Office of responsible ACT Minister, Mick Gentleman, has indicated the ACT Government will not be considering or taking up any proposals put forward in this Paper by the NCA, on the grounds that the ACT Government has “its own Plan”.