GREENS RESPONSE TO GAHRAG’S QUESTIONNAIRE ON
FEDERAL GOLF CLUB’S DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL FOR THE GOLF COURSE.
Date – 5 October 2016
Question 1. :- Do you believe that the FGC is in a unique bushland site which is inappropriate for urban development?
The ACT Greens agree that the points mentioned by the Garran and Hughes Residents Action Group (GAHRAG) about Federal Golf Club (FGC) development proposal mean that residential development there is problematic.
One of the most ecologically significant features of the FGC is its location adjacent to the Red Hill Nature Reserve. It is important that areas around the perimeter of the Golf Course are protected and managed in a way that is consistent with management of the nature reserve. Ideally the boundary should be rationalised to reduce the length of the boundary and the edge effects. It could be appropriate to add some areas of FGC to the Red Hill reserve to achieve this.
In other parts of the FGC, though significant trees remain, much of the site is highly modified. A significant amount of the bushland has been cleared and the grass irrigated and fertilised for many years which has significantly modified what would have otherwise been woodland and grassland communities.
The Greens observe that the FGC is on a North West slope without any significant local water supply. Canberra has a number of golf clubs, many of which are considering residential developments. The first residential development at Holt golf course put residences in the middle of the course, as FGC proposes, but it has subsequently had a second territory variation to allow more residential developments. The Greens are concerned that something like this could happen at FGC – where residences are built at the centre, as proposed, but then in the future more would be built, close to the reserve with very poor access.
The current access to the FGC is not suitable access for a residential development, especially designed for older residents who may not be confident drivers or over time may no longer be able to drive. It raises questions such as how a bus service would be provided to the residents in the future?
If FCG wishes to proceed with any development, the Greens would want to see a full consideration of:
- Long term viability of the club so that there isn’t more ad hoc development in the future;
- Environment values of FGC;
- Impact of Red Hill nature reserve;
- Bushfire impact;
- Impact on the immediate neighbours and the broader community; and
- Urban planning issues such as transport and access to local services
If urban development was to be planned for any part of the FGC, it would seem sensible for it to be located closer to existing infrastructure and services in Garran, Hughes and the Woden Town Centre.
Consultation and planning for any such development proposal should fully engage with the community, not just the FGC members and immediate neighbours. Any variation to the Territory Plan should be done in an open way, where there is a genuine desire to find the best outcome. The Greens do not support a ‘tick and flick’ exercise where the proponents have already decided the outcome. It should be a joint exercise with community, government and the FGC.
Question 2. :- Do you agree that a development of the type proposed by the FGC is likely to have a detrimental impact on the environmental values within and outside the FGC area?
The current proposal, with its single point of access, would increase the volume of traffic on the existing access road which would require widening and/or realignment. This would have environmental impacts both inside and outside the FGC area.
It would be important to ban cats, and possibly dogs, from the development as they would be incompatible with the surrounding nature reserve.
It would be important to retain as many as possible of the mature trees. However, the development proposal does seem to be located in a largely cleared area which will reduce the impact on environmental values.
Question 3. :- Do you agree that there should be no change to the rights of the FGC under their Crown Lease and the Territory Plan to enable the club to undertake residential development?
The land was granted for a public use. As a matter of principle the ACT Greens believe that land granted for a community use should remain in community hands. The Greens also do not want to see any net loss of community land. If any community land is lost, there should be adequate replacement in areas that need community facilities. However, some flexibility is required to ensure that clubs can diversify their income stream in order to continue to provide the community benefits they do.
Question 4. :- Are you concerned that adjoining residents will be adversely affected by the development and suffer a loss of value on their properties and a significant loss of amenity?
Canberra is growing at about 5,000 people a year, much of that due natural increase. As Canberra population grows, higher density development will be needed, particularly in central areas. The ACT Greens believe that high quality infill development is preferable to development on the fringes which impacts the surrounding bushland and leads to unsustainable travel patterns. As Canberra grows we must ensure that our valuable reserves and parks are retained and managed to a high standard so that residents can enjoy the great benefits this city has to offer, now and into the future. This is one reason why the Red Hill nature reserve is so important.
In any development, the impact on existing residents is a key factor to be considered and any impact should be minimal as far as possible. This means ensuring that additional traffic does not lead to rat running and that solar access in maintained. As far as possible visual amenity should be preserved and noise levels minimised in any development.
Question 5. :- Do you believe that clubs granted highly concessional access to land for very limited purposes should later be allowed to obtain massive benefits that other clubs and community groups (perhaps more deserving) are excluded?
The ACT Greens believe that land granted for a community use should continue to be used by the community. We do not believe clubs should be able to make large windfall profits by turning community land into a private asset. If the Club is not able to remain economically viable, alternative uses for the land should be considered. This could be by making the land available to other community groups or surrendering it to the Government. The Government could then undertake a Master Planning exercise for the whole precinct to identify environmental, community and economic opportunities.
However, as stated in 3 above, some flexibility is required to ensure that clubs can diversify their income stream to be able to continue to provide the community benefits they do.
ACT Greens Campaign Manager