Planning reform is one of those topics which everyone in Canberra has an opinion on, although there’s often a mismatch between people’s instinctive “they oughta do this”, and the rather nerdy and detail heavy planning documents which bring it into being.
The ACT Government has been trying to address these criticisms through consultation for its Planning System Review and Reform Project. Accompanying this are 9 separate ‘district strategies‘ for each separate district of Canberra, identifying how these districts will grow as our population grows, while leaving room for green space and transport corridors.
Overall, PTCBR supports the approach of the district strategies. There’s a lot of fancy talk and pretty pictures integrating transport and land use, and highlighting the importance of light rail and public transport connections. We agree with a lot of the ideas there! But too often this is poorly executed in practice, and our government agencies appear to lack the capacity and interest to actually create the places the strategies talk about. So our submission highlights where these gaps are, and what the government needs to do to address them.
Over the last few years there’s been a strong debate about the future direction of Canberra: between those who want to preserve the low density character of our inner suburbs, and those who want to let more people live in these areas. It’s a good thing that this debate is happening, as it shines a light on what is actually happening, and how/whether we should change things. PTCBR is an unapologetic supporter of the Missing Middle Canberra Campaign, and we see public transport as a good way of helping people live close to where they want to work and play. But we need the ACT Government to resource and demand more of its land use agencies to make this vision a reality.