AUSTRALIAN Major Projects, Territories and Local Government Minister Paul Fletcher last week announced the approval of Amendment 86 to the National Capital Plan, which he said would provide a clearer and simpler planning framework for the nation's capital.
"As the first comprehensive review of the Plan since it came into effect in 1990, the Plan now has a better balance in planning responsibilities between the Commonwealth and ACT Governments," Mr Fletcher said.
"The changes will enable the Commonwealth Government to focus on protecting the national character of Canberra, while allowing the ACT Government to get on with the day-to-day planning for the city's long term growth and economic development."
Senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja, endorsed the changes as a big win for Canberra, particularly for the future of housing affordability and local town centres.
"The current lack of both housing and facilities in Canberra's outer suburbs is making it hard and unappealing for young Canberrans to enter the property market, particularly in Tuggeranong," Mr Seselja said.
"The updated Plan will ensure the viability of Tuggeranong's future growth and will not only provide for more affordable housing opportunities but also new and upgraded facilities for local residents.
"Reducing duplication and complexity in our planning arrangements is essential for attracting new investment.
"The amendments to the Plan will open up opportunities for development in west Tuggeranong and west Belconnen, which will rejuvenate our local town centres and help small businesses thrive. I have been pushing for these changes since being elected in 2013."
Among other changes, Amendment 86 will allow for mixed use developments at Anzac Park East and West and new urban development areas.
The National Capital Authority will continue to control Lake Burley Griffin and the inner hills surrounding the city to ensure the landscape setting of the National Capital is protected.
The approval of the amendment will now allow the ACT Government, in a joint venture with the Riverview Group, to proceed with development in West Belconnen that will extend into NSW and include up to 11,500 dwellings, of which 6,500 will be in the ACT.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that while the ACT Government is supportive of further housing development in the Tuggeranong area, it remains deeply concerned about any proposed expansion across the Murrumbidgee River.
"The ACT Government is unable to support this proposal as it would require significant infrastructure expenditure to facilitate housing development in the area. There are also major environmental concerns with any development that would require crossing the river," Mr Barr said.
"The Government is also concerned to see that land at Ginninderra Farm, currently owned by the CSIRO, has been zoned in the National Capital Plan as Urban Development. We would have preferred it to be designated future urban development – to enable more consultation with the community.
"The Government is concerned about the lack of community consultation and environmental planning on the proposed development with a potential for up to 6,500 dwellings at this site.
"The ACT Government will continue to press for the remaining processes for Ginninderra Farm to be undertaken within the ACT Government controlled framework and in a manner consistent with all our normal land release processes.
"We would also like to have a fresh discussion with the Commonwealth about a truly meaningful simplification and clarification of the planning system in Canberra," Mr Barr concluded.