DRA has written to the Minister for planning and the National Capital Authority in the following terms complaining about the inadequacy of the information and the opportunity to comment on the proposed redevelopment of the Art Gallery site and Grey Street.
This post is in relation to the inadequacy of an online information session held by Canberra Town Planning on 13 December 2022 about a proposed development on Block 13 Section 49 Deakin, the Grey Street Art Gallery site. The session was billed as a ‘virtual information session’. The session was not widely advertised in the suburb. For example, we understand that residents of the Ambassador Apartments immediately across the road from the proposed development were not informed. As far as we know there was no mention of social media platforms and the consultation not delivered in a form that would allow many local residents to attend.
The Deakin Residents’ Association (DRA) did pass information about the event to our members and to our contact list, but one reported that although they had expressed an interest in attending they did not hear back from the organisers.
We had expected that this session would be conducted by the proponents as a ‘consultation’ with Deakin residents, but as a consultation session, it was utterly flawed. The introduction was brief, few plans were shown, there were initial mistakes in critical information (numbers of residential units/number of storeys) which were later corrected and there was completely inadequate information on the major issues that would allow residents to make any judgement at all about the scale of the planned development and its potential impact on the suburb. The drawings did not even represent the likely final look or even colour of the building. Many questions were answered with the words that it was a ‘work in progress’. This included the architecture, landscaping (no landscape plan was provided), on-site resident and visitor parking, planned numbers of units, likely number of residents, what would be on the ground floor and concerns for the adjoining school.
We understood from the Zoom session that the ‘consultation period’ ends on 16 January. However we consider that the ACT Government and NCA should not accept the outcome of this session as satisfactorily meeting requirements of ‘community consultation’. If this development goes ahead it would be a massive building, on a controversial site, alongside heritage significant Adelaide Avenue (a Main Avenue and national processional route) and at the ‘gateway’ to Deakin, a significant Garden Suburb. The DRA does not oppose redevelopment of the site but given its strategic significance for both the whole of Adelaide Ave and the suburb of Deakin, we urge greater sensitivity in its planning. We also note that it is a small site and its location presents challenges for access for both vehicles and pedestrians.
In our view, at the very least there should be an on-site consultation session with detailed plans and correct information, with proponents available to answer questions and this session should be widely advertised by the proponents to Deakin residents through letter-boxing, posters at the shops and on accessible social media.