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    • #14266 Reply
      Ian Hubbard

      Dear YWCA
      Thanks for your response and efforts to keep the Rutherford Crescent residents up-to-date with your proposal to build 10 residential units on 1800 sqm of Community Facilities Land (CFZ).
      Unfortunately this correspondence does not provide the information requested. You have provided another unreal architectural rendering. Most importantly, there are no floorplans or elevations with detailed measurements as requested. It would be helpful to provide this information prior to the start of the 15 day consultation period and lodgement of objections in the Development Application process to give enough time for residents to assess these details properly.
      There are four main areas of loss if your proposed development proceeds:
      • Community facilities land and associated buildings
      • Density and amenity
      • Environmental Impact
      • Social connections
      Community Facility Zone (CFZ)

      The CFZ objectives include ‘facilitate social sustainability and inclusion..for individuals, families and communities’ and ‘accessible sites for civic life’ and ‘protect these social and community uses from competition from other uses’. Supported accommodation doesn’t align with these objectives, as residential accommodation excludes other community members from using the site. ‘Supported accommodation’ was included as an objective in 2005, and recently broadened in 2015, through technical amendments to the planning rules.

      The majority of people we have consulted would like to see this facility given back to the community and used for purposes that engage and enrich the community. Most would like a community activity centre or a preschool. Which is ironic when your Crown Lease (1993) has a clear Purpose clause where the YWCA is required to provide a “childcare centre and a community activity centre”. When you decided not to deliver this service, the YWCA should have handed the site back to the Government so that these services could have been provided by another organisation. You have not complied with this clause for over 20 years and have subleased the site as office space to another non-government organisation for over 10 years. It is not for the local residents to check your compliance with the purpose of the lease.

      You say that you understand residents’ connection to Bill Pye Park and that the proposed development will not impact on the Park. You are ignoring the community’s desire to utilise the community facility as part of the Park. The local community see that the Community Facility was designed and integrated into the Park. This makes sense when you know it was designed as a preschool in the early 1940s. The kids would run from the preschool into the Park. Section 87 only contains two blocks, Block 1 the community facility and Block 2 Bill Pye Park. There is no residential dwellings on section 87. Your proposed medium density development will have an impact on the Park. The local community wants to enhance the connection between these two blocks for social benefit because this is a rare resource. We are happy to organise a working-bee to help cut back the weeds and undergrowth that hide the buildings from the Park. This is 20 years of neglect. [Below is a map of section 87 and a photo of the site operating as a preschool]

      Ownership of Community Facilities Land

      Your letter states that the “YWCA Canberra purchased this site at market rates in 1992” yet the Crown Lease issued in May 1993 states that the organisation was granted a 99 year lease at a rent of 5 cents a year for 99 years. Very few people believe that you have purchased and own the land. Do you have a legal right to sell it? The local community thinks the Government owns the land on behalf of the community. The lease also has a termination clause for non-payment of rent or non-performance. These issues need to be clarified.

      Density, Amenity and real cost to community
      Residential land in Ainslie is zoned RZ1. This zoning was determined after extensive consultation with the community. Community Facilities Land is not included in the multi-unit housing development code which covers all residential zones. The maximum number of ‘adaptable’ dwellings on an RZ1 block of this size is 5. Your proposed development is for 10 units (you suggested that residents should be grateful that it is not 16 units). There is lack of residential development controls on CFZ land. A medium density development is only possible because of a loop-hole in the planning legislation which you are exploiting. This intensity of development will impact the residents across the road.

      A big factor increasing the price of land is allowing greater density. This is because developers can get a greater ‘yield’. This reduces affordability, increases rates and pushes lower income households out of the area. The YWCA is supporting the increase in land cost by sneaking a medium density (RZ3) development onto community facilities land in Ainslie. It is clear that you are motivated to provide affordable housing for single older women but there are alternative sites that are less damaging.
      If you don’t care about the impact on local residents and are looking for ‘yield’ you’re not acting as a caring charitable organisation but performing the role of land developer. A major difference is that a developer would be required to pay current market price and betterment charges for change of use to residential and greater density. The real cost to the Canberra taxpayer is the $2.75 million to replace this land in Ainslie. This seems to be a pattern for the ACT Government – sell cheap and buy back expensive. Thousands of public housing units have been demolished in inner Canberra and the land sales have not covered their replacement.
      A more cost transparent approach would be to purchase land in a residential zone that supports medium density developments. Buy units in the market. Joint venture with ACT Government Public Housing on the land for sale such as on Cowper St Dickson. That is zoned RZ3 and supports multi-unit developments. This is more suited to the density of your development and doesn’t demolish a community facility. Is Baker Gardens Preschool next? Same size block, same Community Facility Zoning and in a Park

      Blocks 1&2, Section 87 Ainslie Ainslie Pre-School 1963 in Bill Pye Park

      Environmental Impact

      This proposed development will cause environmental loss and deny the potential of this site to enhance the environmental impact of Bill Pye Park and the original Preschool buildings. The Park could be enhanced with urban forest, native habitat and incorporate a community garden. The buildings could be upgraded to be environmentally sustainable as they are already solar orientated on the block with plenty of green space and relatively small footprint. The buildings could be used to promote greater sustainability in Ainslie. A feature of the original design idea for the “childcare centre and a community activity centre” was that the local community could walk and enjoy the site – rather than drive. The important community connection to site.

      The proposed development covers the site with buildings and carpark. A number of trees will be removed and others are impacted by the buildings. The carpark and roofing will increase the urban heat gain in the area and dramatically increase energy consumption on the site. The demolition of the building will put tons of waste into landfill. The additional cars will add to pollution. Think local. This development does not make sense when you consider the impacts of climate change.

      Social Connection

      In contrast to most of the newer suburbs, the urban design of Ainslie emphasized local social connection and the ‘garden city’ environment. The irony is that the ‘garden city’ movement was in response to the unhealthy environment created by inner urban high density. Canberra’s inner suburbs connected people through preschools, primary schools, high schools and colleges, a hierarchy of shops local and group centres, halls, sporting clubs and other community facilities. Families and people could organise their daily journey through these locations and meet neighbours and friends. The population of Ainslie is diverse with residents living there for decades. There were plenty of opportunity for connection, sharing and the exchange of issues. There are gardens, street scapes and connections to the bush. People live in Ainslie to enjoy these opportunities because they enrich lives. Ainslie shops is vibrant and the schools are full. We can learn from past. To be physically and mentally healthy we need to get more space in our lives and environment. If the residents of Ainslie wanted greater density they’d move to the Northbourne corridor. Keep medium-density out of Ainslie. Give back our community facility as it plays an important part in our social fabric.

      We are asking Government to put a moratorium on residential development on Community Facilities Land and to undertake a Master Plan for Ainslie to review the need for these facilities that support a connected community. They’re rare. North Ainslie Primary is overcrowded and there is a proposals to add buildings onto the playground. You might remember when North Ainslie and Dickson College were going to be sold! (They’re on Community Facilities Land). Take the Preschool back to Bill Pye Park, create a Community Activities Centre and fulfil the lease you signed with the Government.

      The YWCA does not have the right to judge Block 1, Section 87 as underutilised community facilities land and has never been given the social licence to build medium density residential housing on it. Putting faces to the names, a few of the local residents most impacted by this development. Wouldn’t mind using YWCA Community House!

      Hope to get the detailed plans soon, yours in continuing consultation.

      Rutherford Residents

    • #14273 Reply
      Andrea Madon

      Issue put on th e agenda for the October meeting.

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