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Friday, May 14, 2021

Calls for Canberra to focus on ‘social and inclusive’ development

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has called on the ACT Government to introduce a new evidence-based planning system, focused on social and inclusive development, in a “wide-ranging” submission to the ongoing Territory Planning Review.

ACTCOSS said their submission calls for the new system to prioritise the people most affected by poor planning, including transport users, socially disadvantaged people, renters and young people.

The ACT is required to consider the appropriateness of the Territory Plan every five years.

The ACT Government said Canberra’s population was growing by approximately 8,000 per year.

According to the ACT Government website, “with this growth, 100,000 new homes will need to be built in the next 25 years and most of these will be in existing urban areas”.

What is social and inclusive development?

ACTCOSS acting CEO Craig Wallace said a “reboot” was needed to have conversations about planning.

“We need to break the David-and-Goliath loop of important neighbourhood voices pitched against developers while missing other voices,” Mr Wallace said.

“It is ironic that the planning debates we have in Canberra often completely miss those who are most affected by planning decisions, and winds up leaving them least engaged.

“In real life, Canberrans with disadvantage are ‘canaries in the coalmine’ when we get planning, design, transport, and city integration wrong, and we should call on their knowledge to forge a better city.

“For instance, people without cars know when transport doesn’t link up; young people can tell us when we don’t plan for parks or spaces for them to play and gather.

“Small community groups know when they can’t find halls to meet; renters know when affordable housing is built in places with no local commerce or infrastructure.

“And elders and people with disability know where missing or broken footpaths are. 

“People who survive in substandard housing or live on our streets can certainly tell us when our public places are hostile to them or offer no free sheltered spaces or airconditioned foyers for refuge during heatwaves, storms and other weather events.

“A year of smoke and lockdowns means all of us have things to say about the quality of the homes we live in and the surrounding streets and walking tracks,” Mr Wallace said.

The ACT Government said they will continue to work on proposed reforms and come back to the community for further conversations in mid-2021.

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