Development in Campbell

The Hansard from the parliament's biannual quizzing of the National Capital Authority became available today. For the benefit of Campbell residents who are interested in Development Application 74, I've pasted below the answers to my questions. The full transcript is available here.
Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories - 20/06/2012 - National Capital Authority

Dr LEIGH: As the member representing Campbell, my questions today will just relate to DA 74. Many of the submissions that you and we have received address the issue of the height limit. Why did the NCA choose to keep the seven- or eight-storey built form adjacent to the memorials and Anzac Parade?

Mr Rake : It is important to clarify that the amendment that we are proposing at the moment reduces an existing development ability. There is a provision in the National Capital Plan at the moment that already allows for development at that height but on a much larger footprint and, in particular, in a form that would have large, multistorey development directly across the road from existing single-storey dwellings. We have retained a portion of the development at that upper height limit, but the new form of this development, both as originally proposed and as modified after community consultation, reduces both the overall development capacity of the site and the building heights in a transition fashion as it moves closer to existing residential development, and improves heritage protection on the site both in a landscape sense and in a cultural sense. So across three areas we believe there have been considerable improvements compared to development permissions that exist in the current framework.

Dr LEIGH: Notwithstanding the response of the NCA to the submissions, there still seem to be a number of concerns about increased traffic through Constitution Avenue and the potential for rat-running through Campbell. The response to the submissions talks about parking in great detail but has deferred consideration of traffic to a later date. Have you considered the cumulative impacts of increased traffic in and around Campbell for the purposes of considering this amendment?

Mr Rake : We have. We commissioned detailed traffic modelling that took into account current and future expected development, and Mr Smith made a detailed presentation to the residents of Campbell on Wednesday evening last week, Wednesday the 13th, which highlighted the outcomes of that traffic modelling. What it did identify as one of the key findings was that a lot of the traffic congestion in Campbell relates to the suburb itself—for example, people going to the Campbell shops or to and from the couple of schools. Campbell has a private school and a childcare centre. A lot of the traffic in those surveys emanates from visits to or from those sites. There was not a lot of rat running recorded in these traffic surveys. We looked at both the am and pm peak times and used number-plate recognition technology. Campbell is a busy suburb but a lot of the traffic relates to the fact that the suburb is busy rather than that it is a rat run.

Dr LEIGH: The DA anticipates an increase in both cyclists and walkers. Have you considered issues of safety of pedestrians and cyclists as a result of increased traffic?

Mr Rake : Very much so. The master plan for Constitution Avenue, which is being built by the ACT government with funding provided by the Commonwealth, provides for two new pedestrian paths linking Campbell to the city along Constitution Avenue and for a dedicated off-road cycleway. Within traffic management on-site at the section 5 development, we have also increased the visitor parking and made sure that it is above ground and accessible, so that it is not a hassle for visitors to get to those car parks and they are not encouraged to park in the streets of Campbell.

Dr LEIGH: There is going to be some landscaping around the proposed DA. Who will plant and who will maintain that landscaping? There has been concern from some residents that they will be expected to maintain the landscaping that is put in place to address the heritage and environmental issues.

Mr Rake : It will be a combination. Some of that planting will be in public space and will be the responsibility of the leaseholder. If it is a multi-unit development it will be the body corporate's responsibility. But there will be some trees planted in the road reserve and the public land managers, whether they be the ACT government or the NCA—and we both have responsibility for road reserves there—and the responsible government agency would take over management of those. That landscaping is designed to take account of heritage values, in particular, its proximity to Anzac Parade and the New Zealand memorial. One of the basket handles is very close to this site. We have had close interactions with the New Zealand high commissioner to make sure that we are addressing those concerns.

Dr LEIGH: On that, do you believe that the additional trees and landscaping will be sufficient to protect the heritage status of that memorial?

Mr Rake : Yes, we do. We have also referred the matter to the department responsible for heritage, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and had it assessed under the EPBC Act. The current provisions in the plan would not have protected those heritage values. The amendment that we are proposing does, and it embeds those protections within the planning framework. We have also embedded, in the planning framework, mandatory consultation on every single development that would occur on that site in future. That is the strongest level of consultation that exists in that part of the city. We have embedded that in the plan so that it is mandatory.

Mr Smith : One further thing in regards to the landscape protections: the proposed amendment makes mandatory that that landscape be in place prior to approval of any building development on the site. The first thing that has to happen is the landscaping.

Dr LEIGH: Thank you. Many submissions suggested that DA 74 be adjusted to set the first building 25 metres further east on Constitution Avenue and away from Anzac Parade East, so the symmetry of the eastern handle of the New Zealand memorial is not affected as much. Why was that not done?

Mr Rake : The detailed landscape assessment found that the treatment we had in mind and the form of the development were not going to compromise that value in the first place, so it was not necessary to make the change. We have procured quite a bit of three-dimensional modelling to help explain to the community what the view sheds will be. We have fully completed development from as many angles as we can—from the human height perspective, from the top of Mount Ainslie, from the steps of the War Memorial. We have picked as many angles as we can to demonstrate that this proposal is a marked improvement and will not unduly affect the heritage values of that area.

Dr LEIGH: Are there going to be requirements for further consultation by developers with residents?

Mr Rake : Yes. For each and every development, we have mandated that and we have put it into the amendments. It is now compulsory. It is very rare in the National Capital Plan for developments that are not in existing residential areas—and this site is at the interface of that—to have mandatory consultation. We have done it by protocol over the past couple of years; here, we are locking it into the plan. There is no wriggle room.

Dr LEIGH: Just one final question. There has been concern that the lack of development on Constitution Avenue east will lead to an unbalanced vista and use of the road. Have you taken into account the effect and the overall feel and appearance of the entirety of Constitution Avenue? Some constituents raised the notion that, if the intention is to create a grand boulevard, it might look a bit odd if it ends abruptly at the eastern end.

Mr Rake : I think the concerns of those residents are driven by the ACT' government's focus on the western end of Constitution Avenue for redevelopment, funded by the Commonwealth as part of last year's budget announcement. We have a planning framework that would extend that full boulevard character along the entire length of Constitution Avenue. As private developments occur at the eastern end, particularly on the northern side of the road where we have the RSL building and various other privately owned buildings, we are pushing the developers, as part of their redevelopment, to upgrade the public domain in a manner that is consistent with that full boulevard effect. The landscape treatment, the provision of the cycleways, the bike paths, the pedestrian paths are all allowed for to maintain that corridor. We do not want it to be a piecemeal approach. It needs to be a high-quality public domain, and we have set a framework that will achieve that.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.