Plan leaves residents in the dark

Dickson resident Marie Coleman wants more detail on the new Dickson master plan. Picture: Elesa Lee

Dickson resident Marie Coleman wants more detail on the new Dickson master plan. Picture: Elesa Lee

The ACT Planning and Land Authority has finally released the long- awaited Dickson master plan, which will provide a radical transformation of the Dickson centre precinct.
The plan, which was released to the public last Tuesday, includes provisions for two new supermarkets in the area and development for new buildings up to six storeys high.

But the plan has attracted the ire of the Dickson Residents’ Group, who claim ACTPLA haven’t engaged properly with the community over the development of the plan. Dickson Residents’ Group convenor Marie Coleman said more detail was needed in the master plan, as the current edition had left residents in the dark over the centre’s future. “We had hoped after the response to the draft which came out some time ago that there might be some further development of detail,” she said. “But there’s not much clarity about what really will be going to happen in terms of the redevelopment and there doesn’t seem to be any business plan for businesses.”

Ms Coleman said the group’s main concern with the plan was parking in the area. Dickson’s current open-air car parks will be built over as a result of the redevelopment, although there are plans to construct underground car parks to replace these spaces. However Ms Coleman believes that once the redevelopment is complete, there will be less parking in Dickson but more people will be coming to the centre due to the addition of two new supermarkets.

“I talk to people who live just across the road in Downer and their streets are parked out on Friday and Saturday nights by people who are over here shopping or at the restaurants,” she said. “If this new redevelopment provides for more accommodation, more shops, more restaurants and less parking, I don’t think the residents of Downer or the residents of Dickson who are going to be parked into their own driveways are going to be very pleased about that.”

Australian Institute of Landscape Architects chief executive and Dickson resident Paul Costigan expressed his disappointment at the master plan, criticising what he terms a “non- master plan”. “The Dickson master plan as published should be regarded as not a master plan by any stretch of the imagination as it is incredibly superficial,” he said. “Despite the fact that the ACT Government may have paid out lots of money to a consultant, it looks as though in the end someone was told to say as little as possible and make it pretty. “It is very much a lost opportunity by the ACT Government to prepare a creative and integrated design plan for the whole of the Dickson precinct.” Mr Costigan said he believed the master plan needed to include information such as traffic forecasts, land value projections and rental projections.

However a spokeswoman for ACTPLA said that the master plan was not designed to provide fine details about the redevelopment. “It should be noted that a master plan does not detail every feature that will be developed over time,” the spokeswoman said. “It seeks to provide direction and principles to guide investment decisions, the provision of infrastructure and the general opportunities that exist. “The detail gets fleshed out as subsequent initiatives are pursued, many of which will be subject to their own consultation, such as the park.”

Ms Coleman said she hoped the Dickson Residents’ Group could sit down and talk through their concerns with ACTPLA over the master plan. “I hope that we can we have positive discussions. I hope it doesn’t degenerate into the kind of negative mudslinging which took place on the last few occasions when we tried to have discussions and we were wantonly and wickedly misrepresented,” she said.

By Alex McConachie
Note: copyright of the material in this clipping resides with Fairfax Media. Usage permitted in accordance with the Australian Copyright Act 1968, Section 42: Fair dealing for purpose of reporting news. Source: The City Chronicle – 11 May 2010

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