Belconnen retains its 4000 strong workforce at Immigration

belco immigration

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection today announced that the 4000 Immigration employees working in the Town Centre will remain in Belconnen. Office accommodation arrangements have now been finalised, and although its Civic workforce will be relocating to the Airport, its Belconnen employees will remain in the Town Centre.

Some will relocate to the underutilised ABS Building on Benjamin Way, across the road from their main Belconnen building.

This is a tremendous result that the BCC, under former Chair Tara Cheyne, worked hard to achieve, with strong bipartisan political efforts at local and federal levels.

Todays announcement provides certainty to the workers and their families that faced enormous dislocation, and to the many small businesses that relied on the 4000 workers. The department employs around one third of the full time workforce located in the Town Centre and remains Belconnens largest employer.

This decision was almost certain following last years decision by the Finance Department to take local factors into consideration when contemplating relocation of departments.

The decision was advised to all staff via an email on 5 May 2016:

Belconnen retains its Immigration workforce

Belconnen retains its Immigration workforce

The media covered the decision here and here.

Senator Zed Seselja commented on the decision by saying:

“Along with the Belconnen community I fought to ensure the [department] remained in its current location with the same staffing footprint, and I’m pleased that we won that fight,”

“Our government is the first ever to take into consideration local impacts on Canberra before making a decision regarding departmental accommodation and today’s announcement shows just how important this was.

“We now have certainty for businesses and staff located at the Belconnen town centre.

“We all know that the presence of government departments in our town centres is critical to maintaining the viability of many local small businesses. This is how Canberra was designed and we need to protect that.

“A move of the DIBP from Belconnen town centre would not have been in the best interest of the Belconnen community. It was vital to ensure this did not happen.

NCA Amendments allow development in West Belconnen and CSIRO Ginninderra Field Site

The National Capital Authority today announced amendments to the National Capital Plan, permitting residential development at the large CSIRO Ginninderra Field site alongside the Barton Highway. The amendments also permit the Riverview development in West Belconnen to proceed.

The BCC continue to consult with both the CSIRO and Riverview to bring about good planning outcomes for existing and future Belconnen residents.

We are mindful of local concerns around loss of open space. The large volume of residents moving in over the coming decades also warrant revisiting the light rail master plan to look at whether light rail along the Barton Highway is feasible.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr responded to the announcement by the NCA by saying:

“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,” Andrew said.

“Planning and consultation on this development has been underway since 2007 – which has involved environmental studies and discussions with the community on the proposed development. The development is an important part of the ACT Government’s land release program and it will include a number of key planning elements that are required for a new development such as shops, bus stops, community facilities and schools.

“While the ACT Government is supportive of further housing development in the Tuggeranong area, we remain 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.

“The ACT Government is currently in consultation with the Tuggeranong community on the possibility of a significantly more modest development in West Tuggeranong which wouldn’t require crossing the river. There is some demand for new property in Tuggeranong, but new developments must be prepared in consultation with the community and must also consider the environmental impacts on the river corridor.

“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.”

The media covered the announcement here and here.

Mixed Use Development Proposal: Blocks 34 and 37 Section 52 Belconnen. Information session May 11 5.30-6.30PM – Community Room above Belconnen Library

Location of development proposal

Location of development proposal

Mixed Use Development Proposal: Blocks 34 and 37 Section 52 Belconnen.
Information session May 11 5.30-6.30PM
Community Room above Belconnen Library

Blocks 34 and 37 Section 52 Belconnen are situated between Emu Bank and the Westfield Belconnen carpark.

Blocks 34 and 37, Section 52

Blocks 34 and 37, Section 52

Block 34 is currently undeveloped and Block 37 currently comprises an at grade car park holding 55 carparks. The two blocks are separated by a right of way easement which provides access to the Westfield carpark, attached is a plan showing the location of the site.
The proponent, Per-se Developments, has developed an alternative to the existing approved development for these sites.

Buildings facing Lake Ginninderra

Buildings facing Lake Ginninderra

This includes a 13 storey residential/mixed use offering with ground floor commercial tenancies and car parking on Block 34. On Block 37, a residential/mixed use development is proposed with a swimming pool and gym that comprises a 24 storey and 18 storey tower including commercial/carparking base and basement carparking.

As part of the DA process the developers are consulting with a range of stakeholders, this includes an information session targeted to the community as well as engagement with surrounding businesses, neighbours and stakeholders.

They have organised for a community information drop in session to be held on Wednesday 11 May 2016 at the Belconnen Library Community Room, 12 Chandler Street Belconnen between 5:30pm and 8pm.

The session will be staffed by their designers and key consultants and will provide an opportunity for the public to raise any questions or provide comments on the proposal.

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Ginninderra electoral district 2016

Are you still enrolled to vote in Belconnen?

Ginninderra electoral district 2016

Ginninderra electoral district 2016

In 2015 the Australian Electoral Commission changed the boundaries for Canberra’s Assembly seats. The ACT went from three seats and 17 MLA’s to five seats and 25 MLA’s, from the 2016 Assembly election.

How does this affect you?

Prior to 2016 all residents of Belconnen were in the Assembly seat of Ginninderra.  You may now live in Belconnen, but now vote in the predominantly Gungahlin seat of Yerrabi. The map above shows where the electoral boundaries of Ginninderra are in 2016.

The changed boundaries affect the voters of Evatt, Mackellar, Lawson, Giralang and Kaleen.

If you are enrolled to vote you will not have to do anything except be aware of which seat you are now in. If you were keen on a particular candidate, you may no longer be able to vote for them!

Be mindful of where you are enrolled and ensure the policies you are voting are ones you support, ask your local candidates questions about issues that matter to you. Although much of Belconnen is in Ginninderra, the residents of Belconnen in Yerrabi deserve the same priority as Gungahlin residents.

Voting and ensuring you are enrolled

If you are over 18 and an Australian citizen you must enroll to vote. You can ensure your details are up to date by checking with the Australian Electoral commission at this link.

If you are not enrolled you can download a form here or visit the AEC site here.

You can change your enrollment details and update your address here.

Voting is important and keeps our democracy strong and relevant.