Melbourne developers Grocon, and the Greater Western Sydney Giants football club, have made an “unsolicited proposal” to the ACT Government trade off upgrades to Manuka Oval facilities for the rights to develop hundreds of new apartments within Manuka Circle.

Following much publicity and controversy over the proposal, the Inner South Community Council hosted a Public Forum
at 7.00 pm on 28 April, Wesley Uniting Church Hall, 20-22 National Circuit, Forrest, to hear the range of views concerning this development proposal.

The Forum Flyer is at this link.

To see the resolutions passed at this meeting , visit the ISCCC web page. 

[UPDATE  31 March 2016]:
DRA’s submission commenting on the Discussion Paper can be read at this link.

By the close of the consultation period, the online consultation format appears to have had an extremely limited response. The foreshadowed “Garden City Principles” questions never appeared in the online Quick Poll, after all.

The ACT Government’s Heritage secretariat have acknowledged DRA’s submission and inform us that there will be a further consultation opportunity later in this year, once a Draft Strategy has been released. We remain alert but not alarmed in anticipation of that Draft Strategy, noting that with both Federal and ACT Elections due in the next few months, potentially controversial topics may be left until elections have passed.

In mid-February 2016 the government opened consultations on a Five Year ACT Heritage Strategy.  DRA was represented at a recent workshop and we note that one of the “Quick Poll” topics to be put to the public questions the effectiveness and relevance of the Garden City Principles.

Garden City Principles underlie the planning rules that limit the size of buildings per block, minimum setbacks from streets and fence-lines, and the scope for adequate vegetation, including substantial trees.

We are all aware of the tree-less deserts that have emerged in newer suburbs where these planning principles have been discarded.  The Principles have long been under attack by those who seek to exploit the landscape character of established garden suburbs, while contributing nothing to it.

DRA will be making a submission to the consultation, urging respect for heritage values in relevant locations, and also defending the importance of Garden City landscaping principles.  Let us know your views on both the heritage and the landscape issues.

We also encourage residents to participate in the consultations individually. The Discussion Paper is currently available from the ACT Heritage Strategy consultation website.  Consultation closes on 29 March.

For some reason, the “Quick Poll” questions on Garden City principles have not yet been put online – poll questions are being released periodically rather than all together.

DRA will update with the online link when the Garden City poll questions are available for response.

Deakin Fluffy Footprint

Click on map to enlarge display

On 1 July 2015 the ACT Government’s Asbestos Remediation Taskforce published the full list of addresses of residences that it intends to demolish, on the grounds that traces of “Mr Fluffy” loose-fill asbestos may remain in the building, and that no safe level of contamination can be agreed.

Twelve residences in Deakin are on the list. DRA extends full sympathy to those residents who are being forced to re-locate, some at considerable personal cost. Under the Government’s policy, the blocks will be redeveloped under new lease conditions set up by a special variation to the Territory Plan. Departing residents will have no control over the future of their blocks, unless they are able to buy them back after remediation is completed. Since the the Government’s intention is to increase the value of those blocks by permitting dual-occupancy development, most current residents expect to be priced out of any buy-back opportunity.

Remaining residents, and particularly residents of adjoining properties, are legitimately concerned about what form of re-development will occur on those blocks. In Deakin, all but one of them are zoned RZ1, meaning only single residences are permitted. The special Territory Plan Amendment will alow subdivision of those blocks for dual occupancy, and thus change the character of the neighbourhood to some extent. The process is likely to be extended over at least five years.

DRA is monitoring and representing resident interests on this matter, and welcomes comment and participation from any resident. Better still, join DRA to show your support.

For your reference, we list below the 12 Deakin addresses published by the Government, and a map showing locations of adjoining residences potentially affected by the demolition and redevelopment.


5 Normanby Crescent, 3 Northcote Crescent, 14 Carrington Street, 33 Macgregor Street, 70 Macgregor Street, 12 Gormanston Crescent, 12 Galway Place, 11 Beauchamp Street, 7 Norman Street, 13 Norman Street, 17 Norman Street, 45 Norman Street.

The following letter was sent to the Canberra Times on 13 June, following their shallow and misleading reportage of the Gawler Crescent ACAT decision. All Canberra residents deserve to understand the extent to which the current planning system limits their rights.

Deakin Residents’ Association Inc.
PO Box 3310 Manuka ACT 2603

Canberra Times

Your story “New Deakin development prompts privacy and parking concerns for residents” (CT online 8th June 2015), “Deakin residents fear flood of development” (CT print version 8th June 2015) misrepresents the Deakin Residents’ Association (DRA).

We did not oppose the Gawler Crescent redevelopment, but sought good planning outcomes that are consistent with published ACT Government planning policies.

The proposal now approved by ACAT will replace two existing residences with seven three-bedroom townhouses. This is significantly different from a 2010 proposal for fifteen one- and two-bedroom apartments, opposed by residents at the time as being completely inconsistent with relevant development codes.  Due to DRA pursuit of good planning outcomes, the subsequent proposal for seven three-bedroom residences has also been modified in several important respects – the number of buildings are now appropriate to the site, with a separation of 2.8metres between the two groups of units, whereas the developer originally proposed an unbroken terrace of six townhouses facing Gawler Crescent.

Through public consultations on DV306, the Government developed specific policy requirements with respect to the maximum number of buildings on a re-developed site with communities promised that groups of multi-unit dwellings in RZ2 zones would be separated by “at least 4 metres” to preserve neighbourhood character. The development, as now approved, still contradicts this promise. At the last minute, and without public consultation, the ACT Government introduced criteria to the relevant Rule inviting decision-makers to apply subjective judgment and allow developers to avoid compliance with the Rule.

Subjective interpretation of planning objectives, under the deceptively-named “merit track” of development approvals, is a deeply flawed system which contradicts commitments to community engagement in the planning and development process. If Rules can be so easily avoided we can anticipate developers seeking to push the boundaries within RZ2 zones across Canberra, with only private residents and their associations to uphold planning principles where they can.

John Bell
Vice President
Deakin Residents Association, Inc

An 16 April forum with local Liberal MLA Steve Doszpot and planning spokesman Alistair Coe at Deakin Soccer Club was well attended by residents fron Deakin, Yarralumla and other parts of South Canberra.

Mr Coe outlined a draft alternative proposal which would be smaller, focussed on townhouses rather than apartments, preserved key landscape and recreation resources, and would be staged progressively with a modest first stage. Separate Territory Plan amendments would be required for each stage, rather than a single rezoning process as proposed by LDA.

Following the Forum, on 22 April Steve Doszpot mailed an outline of the Liberals’ plan to people who had registered their names at the forum. It is less explicit on some points than the oral presentation. The Liberal’s statement is available at this link.

Coe also foreshadowed that, under a Liberal government, the LDA would have a much reduced role in the planning and development of ACT suburbs.

There was active feedback from many participants, mainly raising further issues such as traffic, parking, and pressure on existing shopping precincts and infrastructure.

We appreciate that the Liberals made this effort to consult, and look forward to further development of their alternative proposal. We also look forward to some effective response from Government MLAs and Ministers.