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Friday, May 14, 2021

‘Urban infill’ a focus in ACT’s planning strategy

The ACT Government’s ‘refresh’ of the ACT Planning Strategy shows a shift towards denser city living, with urban infill to increase and development to continue along transport corridors.

The 2018 Planning Strategy, building on the foundations of the 2012 Planning Strategy, lays out the direction for a “more sustainable, competitive and equitable city”, through five key themes: compact and efficient, diverse, sustainable and resilient, liveable, and active.

Minister for Planning and Management Mick Gentleman said the ACT Government wants to “protect what’s unique about our city and maintain the natural setting that Canberrans value”, but stated continued growth ‘outwards’ would significantly eat into the highly valued bush and grassland environments.

“The strategy recognises the need to protect these defining elements of our city; our green space, diversity of lifestyle choices and our bushland setting.”

The strategy in part explores a “compact and efficient” future for Canberra, where growth and development will occur mostly within existing areas through urban infill, growing mostly within the urban footprint, or close to it.

“To plan for our growth, the strategy highlights that the development of land will focus on the CBD, town centres and dedicated major transport corridors. The strategy is setting directions for the future; for Canberra as an attractive, equitable and competitive city, one that the current and future citizens and visitors enjoy,” Minister Gentleman said.

“The community has sent us a strong message that continued sprawl into bushland is not sustainable and that Canberra will have more density within the city, as long as it’s delivered with green spaces, trees and an ongoing respect for our natural environment. This strategy sets out how we’ll create accessible and diverse spaces that connect people and communities.”

The ACT Government will also investigate the use of ‘greenfield’ areas to the west of the city (beyond Weston Creek and the Molonglo Valley) for potential future urban development. The Strategy cites current estimates indicating land supply in Gungahlin will be exhausted by 2021–22 (with the exception of higher density units in the town centre), and in Molonglo by 2030–31.

Before the launch of the strategy, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr had hinted at the direction, saying “we can’t sprawl outwards forever; we’re going to run out of land”.

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