Chair’s Report – October 2023

It has been a busy month, and it looks like it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

With the shift in meeting location from the Belconnen Library to the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, the original technical issues were solved but a new one took its place making the online audio difficult to hear. Your council continues to work hard at refining the meeting format to enable a great experience for all.

Last month marked the release of the new territory plan, alongside associated documents, with the new planning system anticipated to be operational starting November 27th. The Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) is offering training sessions ranging from introductory courses to sessions focusing on specific documents. These can be found here.

There remain significant concerns and unanswered questions regarding the new system. These include the lack of clarity on the timeline and scope of the independent governance review, the absence of an evaluation framework to assess the system’s effectiveness, and the oversight of additional infrastructure required to support the influx of new residents in Belconnen. In particular, we assert that the areas of Lake Ginninderra East and West should be entirely exempt from redevelopment considerations.

An inquiry led by Jo Clay MLA is forthcoming, and we welcome the opportunity to submit an EOI to present further evidence at this inquiry.

We were invited to partake in a walkthrough of the ongoing upgrades at the Florey School Oval. Once complete, the facilities will be partially open to the public, providing an opportunity for the community to use and benefit from the enhanced amenities. We look forward to hearing the experience of the community when it is finished.

The Pre-DA consultation for the school in Ginninderry has commenced, with consultation sessions held earlier this month. This marks a significant milestone in the Ginninderry development and we know how keen the community is for educational facilities to serve the growing community.

The consultation report for the Hawker shops was released at the end of the last month. Woolworths has expressed its intention to approach the government for a direct land sale and plans to submit a direct sale application in the forthcoming months. This development will be closely monitored to ensure that it aligns with the community’s interests and needs. The consultation report can be found here.

The Integrated Energy Plan listening report, released earlier this month, underscores the importance of addressing complex buildings in our transition to sustainable energy solutions. The report highlights the administrative, economic, and technical challenges that must be overcome to ensure an equitable transition. It is imperative that we tackle these complexities proactively, especially for our local businesses and apartment complexes, to facilitate a smoother transition to sustainable energy practices. The listening report can be found here.

There was quite a bit of media coverage regarding the University of Canberra’s sale of land for housing development. This development brings to the fore the longstanding need for improved connectivity between the Belconnen Town Centre and the University of Canberra. We must learn from previous developments to ensure adequate parking, green space, and public transport are incorporated into future plans. Enhancing infrastructure, services, and amenities is paramount to accommodating the needs of our growing community.

In terms of infrastructure improvements, GInninderry aim to complete the Spofforth St intersection upgrade before the end of the year, weather and agency performance permitting. Messaging boards will be installed at each approach to the intersection to provide the latest updates, and residents in the vicinity will be informed via letterbox drops, ensuring that the community is kept abreast of the developments.

As always we rely on you to provide us with information and issues from across the district. We are always looking for help to stay on top of the workload, so if you would like to get involved we’d love to hear from you. You can email us at chair@belcouncil.org.au or hello@belcouncil.org.au for more information.

Lachlan.

Summary of our August 2023 meeting

We heard updates on the Indicative Land Release Program and SLA projects, as well as Linq Stage.

Chair’s Report
The BCC’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) is drawing near, scheduled for the 19th of September.  This meeting will trial the introduction of a hybrid format, accommodating both in-person and online participants. All essential details will soon be finalized and disseminated as per the AGM’s regulations. For those members who are eager to play a more active role in the BCC’s future, I encourage you to reach out and discuss potential positions. I’ll be putting my hat in the ring again for the role of Chair. However, I wholeheartedly believe in the principles of democracy and would gladly welcome competition and fresh perspectives.

A significant update concerns the Hawker Woolworths consultation. The BCC conduct a letterbox survey, and despite the hurdles of limited notice and challenging conditions, we’ve successfully managed to garner 150 responses, providing invaluable insights. The resulting submission can be found here.

Regarding the temporary West Belconnen green waste facility, the development application for this facility has been given the green light, with stipulations that emphasize its temporary status, alongside requirements for site remediation and environmental safeguards. This approval is for a span of three years. While this is seen by the government as a grace period for devising a lasting solution, my personal conviction is that we should proactively start the dialogue around a permanent answer now rather than later.

The BCC recently received media attention due to our stance on the Belconnen Town Centre Primary School, an initiative stemming from the ACT government’s 2019 infrastructure plan. This school project found a mention in our budget proposal. However, a recent ambiguity arose during estimates, hinting at the possibility of this plan not coming to fruition. Given this, we are advocating for immediate planning, especially given the broader choice in land selection currently available. There are currently (conservatively) over 300 primary school aged children in the Belconnen Town Centre, and the ACT Government population predictions have this hitting more than 500 students by the 2026.

An update on William Hovell Drive (WHDD) has been provided. Our communications with Chris Steel have been around tracking the progression of WHDD and ensuring transparent communication. We have been advised that the 2023-24 ACT Budget has allocated additional funds to fast-track this project with the objective of ensuring a seamless transition into the construction phase immediately after all requisite approvals. As of now, it is still in the environmental approvals stage. The pace might seem slow but is a consequence of the sensitive nature of the area, nestled between two nature reserves and close to residential homes. The anticipated timeline for releasing the construction tender is the fourth quarter of 2023. For our members keen on staying updated, I’d recommend bookmarking the project page on the City Services website which will be reviewed monthly.

Lastly, in our efforts to keep communication clear and engaging, we’ve changed our meeting notice email. This revamped format will include a more detailed message from me and incorporate relevant ‘yoursay’ links. This change is a direct result of the invaluable feedback we’ve received from our members a few months back. I’m always eager to hear from our members, so if there are any thoughts, suggestions, or topics you’d like to see addressed, please reach out.

In closing, I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all our members for their unwavering support and active participation. Looking ahead, I’m optimistic about the milestones the BCC can achieve together in the coming year.

Lachlan.


Below is a link to the meeting recording, with timestamps for each agenda item.

View the meeting recording here!
Passcode: jc5.L=sZ

Timestamps and notes:

00:00:00 Welcome / Chair’s Report

00:08:00 MLA Updates
00:24:00 Update on the Indicative Land Release Program and Suburban Land Agency projects
00:44:00 Presentation of Linq Stage 2 Redevelopment – Block 14 Section 45 Belconnen
01:11:45 General business

Questions taken on notice:

  1. Regarding the former Water Police site: While SLA has completed the second stage of the land release process and evaluated submitted tenders, this is an on-going sales process and SLA will be able to announce the successful tenderer after performance negotiations are concluded. For more details, please visit: https://suburbanland.act.gov.au/en/belconnen.
  2. Regarding timelines for Lawson Stage 2B: Community engagement is being planned for October/November this year and we would be delighted to come back with an update in September/October.

Belconnen Community Survey

📣 **We Want Your Voice! Take Our Community Survey**

Hey Belconnen community! 🌟 Your opinions matter, and the Belconnen Community Council wants to hear from YOU! We’ve created a survey to gather your valuable insights and perspectives on how we can better serve our community.

🗺️ Share Your Vision: Let us know what you see as the role of the Belconnen Community Council. Your input will shape our future initiatives and guide our decision-making process.

🤝Meeting Preferences: We want to make our meetings as accessible and engaging as possible. Tell us how you would prefer we conduct our meetings. Your feedback will help us create an inclusive environment that encourages participation and collaboration.

🏡 Local Matters: What matters most to you in your local area? We’re eager to understand the issues that are important to our community members. Your responses will help us prioritize and advocate for the matters closest to your hearts.

📋 Take the Survey: Click the link below to access the survey and make your voice heard. It only takes a few minutes, but your impact will be long-lasting!

https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSc4Sq1GaS2…/viewform…

Your opinions are crucial to our community’s growth and development. Let’s work together to create a vibrant and inclusive Belconnen that we can all be proud of! 🤝💚

Community Announcement: Planning Act Amendments and Community Engagement

With the passage of the new Planning Act last week, the Belconnen Community Council was glad to see the inclusion of key amendments that we lobbied for. These amendments addressed our concerns about community consultation and pre-DA consultation. These changes prioritized the voices of our community in the planning process, and we are grateful for this significant step forward compared to the draft bill.

However, while we appreciate the amendments, we acknowledge that concerns remain regarding the outcomes-based system and how it will impact Belconnen residents. In this vein, we support the built-in review mechanism to evaluate the system’s effectiveness and the potential need for further reforms. The government should be proactive and consider a continuous evaluation and review process of the planning system. We believe in ensuring active community participation in shaping the planning outcomes that impact our neighborhoods.

Additionally, we are disappointed that governance arrangements were not prioritized from the beginning. However, we welcome the amendment requiring an independent review of the governance arrangements within 12 months of the Planning Act’s passage. This review should examine the effectiveness of the independent planning body and explore the potential of local design panels, both of which we advocated for in our submission on the draft Bill. These measures will contribute to a more inclusive and community-centric planning framework.

We express our gratitude to the ACT Government, the Opposition and all stakeholders involved for their efforts in addressing our concerns and taking meaningful steps towards creating a more consultative and inclusive planning framework.

However our work is not yet done, we will keep advocating for the best planning outcomes for our community and if you are interested in helping out, we would love to hear from you.

The BCC remains committed to advocating for genuine and transparent community engagement in planning, and for a fit-for-purpose territory plan, district strategy, and design guides that deliver for the Belconnen community while delivering the housing our city needs.

Together, let’s shape the future of our community! 🌍✨

Summary of our February Meeting

Below is a summary of the February meeting.

There were some images and language used during the meeting that was not sanctioned by the BCC, and has been to the best of our knowledge edited from the recording.

Questions taken on notice regarding the Swanson Street Belconnen development can be found by clicking here.

View the meeting record by clicking here.

00:00:00 Chair’s Report
00:06:10 MLA Updates
00:27:00 Presentation on the Swanson Street Belconnen development.
00:53:45 Presentation on Umbagong bridges
01:03:45 Draft District Strategy and the draft Territory Plan – BCC survey and submission
01:25:30 General business

Summary of our November 2022 meeting

Last night was our final meeting for 2022. We heard about the plans for the Westfield Belconnen redevelopment, as well as the community consultation process for the draft Belconnen District Plan and the new draft Territory Plan.

Below are links to all the ways you can provide input into these significant changes, as well as links to the meeting recording and the ACT Government’s presentation slides…