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Woden Town Centre in the 21st Century

The Woden Town Centre Master Plan was released by ACT Planning Land Authority in May 2004. ACTPLA envisage that as Woden matures the Master Plan will help manage change in order to protect physical and social features that are recognised as important. At the same time there are proposals to introduce a broader mix of uses within and surrounding Woden that will extend hours of activity, reduce car use and develop a sense of ownership by a varied, involved and secure community.

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Woden parks & places

At our May 5 public forum, Ian Baird, Manager of Policy and Planning for Canberra Urban Parks and Places (CUPPS) and Rod Baxter, ACTPLA Project Officer for the Woden Town Centre made presentations on their respective roles and responsibilities in relation to our public places, parks, ovals and open spaces, giving us examples of strategic plans of management regarding such matters as graffiti and memorials, and how Canberra Urban Parks undertakes social surveys about our public places and how they ‘bench mark’ their performance in relation to maintaining our public places.[teaserbreak]

Considerable discussion followed about Eddison Park and it’s pond, dying trees in Woden Town Square and other public places, abuse of verges and open spaces by builders etc, lack of oval maintenance, and what seems to be a strategy of management by responding to complaints about dying trees etc instead of a strategy of regularly maintaining these public assets. The issue of managing contractors who manage our public parks and places was also discussed. A water saving study being undertaken by CSIRO for CUPPS was also explained.

Our Council sincerely thanks these officers for giving us the presentations and increasing our understanding of who is responsible for what, and how their management strategies work and are reviewed. We encourage readers who are interested in these matters to contact Urban Parks and Places on 62072500 or log onto www.parksandplaces.act.gov.au

At our July public forum we will be discussing Woden’s cultural and community facilities as measured against the recently released Canberra Social Plan. Our special guests will be Dawn Casey, Chair, ACT Cultural Council and recently appointed member to the Community Inclusion Board, and Robin Brown, President of the ACT Council of Social Service and recently appointed member to the Community Inclusion Board. We hope to see many of you at that meeting on 7 July, in the Orpheus Room upstairs at the Hellenic Club, 7.30pm.

Woden’s cultural & community facilities 2004

The Woden Valley Community Council, during 2004, meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm in the Orpheus Room at the Hellenic Club. All meetings are naturally open to the public, and we try to make every second meeting relate to a particular public interest matter. The next such meeting is on 5 May and the topic is Woden’s Public Places, including streetscapes, parks, ovals, ridges and hills. Guest speakers from Canberra Urban Parks and Places will also be there.[teaserbreak]

At our July meeting we will be discussing Woden’s cultural and community facilities as measured against the recently released Canberra Social Plan. Our special guest will be Dawn Casey, Chair, ACT Cultural Council. We have also invited Hugh Mackay, as Chair of the Canberra Community Inclusion Board to discuss his role.

At our September meeting we plan to combine our AGM with a ‘meet the candidates’ evening in the lead up to the ACT elections.

Another date for your diaries is the Woden Community Festival, Sunday 2 May, 11am – 3pm in the Woden Town Square . This is a Celebration of Community on the occasion of the 35 th birthday of Woden Community Service.

Last month the WVCC hosted a public meeting relating to the proposed direct sale of Block 1 Section 77 Curtin ( 31 Throssell St. Curtin) to The Abbeyfield Society Disability (ACT) Inc. The house would provide ten young adults with mild intellect or physical disability who are capable of independent living, with the opportunity to gain independence from the parental home and manage their own lives within a supportive tenancy model. The meeting provided a forum for interested stakeholders to get to know each other and to work through any issues.

We hope to see many of you at our meeting on 5 May.

Draft Variation 200

Draft Variation number 200 to The Territory Plan (DV 200) is possibly the most significant change to Canberra suburban lifestyle since the Plan’s introduction in 1983.[teaserbreak]

The background. Prior to the last ACT election, the ALP issued their “Planning and Land Management Policy for Canberra ” indicating that Neighbourhood Plans would be established “to set out planning rules for individual suburbs and identify where, and what sort of, development is and is not appropriate”. A Neighbourhood Plan would “set out where dual occupancy and multi unit development is appropriate…” The policy stated that “Labor will focus higher density residential development around our Town Centres and Group Centres”. Group Centres in Woden/Weston are Curtin, Mawson and Weston Creek. The Policy further stated that “Labor will also continue to support the establishment of higher density corridors of residential development along Intertown public transport routes”.

What are some DV 200 proposals. Under DV 200 any residential block of 700 square metres or more, in any suburb can be subjected to Dual Occupancy consideration. This effectively allows any residential blocks to be split down to 350 square metres.

In addition, under DV 200, multi unit development – eg 12 units on 3 former residential blocks – will be permitted, subject to conditions, within approximately 200 metres of all shopping centres, including your local shops.

If you are interested in these matters you can contact your MLA or the Minister for Planning; or you can read more about these proposed changes in PALM’s publication entitled “Preserving the Garden City”. Phone 62071926

The Woden Valley Community Council will be hosting a public meeting concerning the recent fires on Wednesday 2 April, (not 19 March) 7.30 pm in the Orpheus Room, Hellenic Club, where there will be guest speakers and information sharing about resident, recovery and enquiry issues.

Concessional leases – Abbeyfield 2004

The Woden Valley Community Council has included the following points in it’s submission to the ACT government in relation to community Concessional Leases which are generally issued to clubs, churches, and sporting organisations at discounted rates.[teaserbreak]

•  The terms of a concessional lease should always allow the ACT Government to resume a lease or that part of the lease no longer required for its original purpose.

•  Concessional lessees should not be permitted to exploit the community, but they should not be unduly penalised if they no longer require the land.

•  As a last resort, the government should withdraw the lease or acquire the property and use or sell it for another use.

•  Variations to concessional leases, which change the original purpose, should, in the view of the WVCC, extinguish the original lease. A new lease should be allowed only after an examination ensuring community needs criteria are met.

•  The concessional lessee should not have the power to on-sell the lease, even to those with “similar” interests. This power should always reside with the ACT Government.

At our next Council meeting we will be briefed by the ACT Land Development Agency in relation to an application from The Abbeyfield Society Disability (ACT) Inc for the direct sale of Block 1 Section 77 Curtin ( 31 Throssell St. Curtin).

The proposed house would provide ten young adults with mild intellect or physical

disability, with the opportunity to gain independence from the parental home and manage their own lives within a supportive tenancy model. Other Abbeyfield houses are located in Garran and Ainslie.

The Land Use Policy for Block 1 Section 77 Curtin is Community Facility.

The proposal comes under the Territory Plan definition of Residential Care

Accommodation, which is a permissible use under the Community Facility Land

Use Policy.

We invite anyone with an interest in this to attend our next public meeting between 7.30 and 8.00pm when this matter will be discussed. The meeting will be on Wed 7 April 2004 at the Hellenic Club, Orpheus Room.

Concessional leases – Abbeyfield

Concessional leases review 2004

In January the ACT government issued a discussion paper: Review of Concessional Leases, and asked for public comment by March 12. The discussion paper is available from www.actpla.act.gov.au , or from their Customer Service Centre or from all ACT Government Shopfronts. For any questions, the ACTPLA contact no is 62071716.[teaserbreak]

Some of our Council Executive have attended a workshop on this matter to learn more about the issues and to guage community reaction to the various options put forward.

Concessional leases have traditionally been issued to clubs, churches, and sporting organisations at discounted rates. From time to time they are the subject of considerable community outrage when the recipient of the discounted lease wishes to convert all or part of the lease to such things as housing and then sell them for profit.

There are many views in the community. For example, the Canberra Property Owners Association, according to the Canberra Times 5 January, believes “there are many redundant sportsgrounds around Canberra , and other spaces set aside for clubs or churches that are now unlikely ever to be used for those purposes.” Other groups and individuals believe that these earmarked ‘community areas’ should not readily be given over to residential or business development; and that Variation 200 to the Territory Plan already allows very considerable residential infill in all our suburbs without sacrificing these set-aside areas.

We encourage everybody interested in this matter to get the discussion paper and then either let their views be known to ACTPLA or to us. We will be making a submission before 12 March based on views put to us. Unfortunately we do not have time to have a public meeting on this important issue before the consultation period closes.

Our next public meeting, 7.30pm Wed 3 rd March 2004 at the Hellenic Club, Orpheus Room will be a presentation by Roads ACT on a sample range of road services & how they are delivered to our community, focussing on infrastructure assets & traffic management issues of interest to the Woden Community. There will also be lots of opportunity to raise local road concerns. Please come if you have any interest in this matter, or if you wish to pass on your views to us about Concessional Leases.

Woden Community Service, AGM 2003

The WVCC held it’s AGM earlier this month, re-electing the four Executive Members (David Menzel, Chair; Mike Reddy, Deputy Chair; John Kain, Secretary; Dolores Holmes, Treasurer) and adding new blood to our Committee Members (Warwick Pearson, Barry Raison, Bill O’Brien, John Pola, Adrian Roberts and Jenny St George). Thanks to Anne Walls as she retires from the Committee after a valuable two years.[teaserbreak]

After the AGM we were led in discussion on issues in Woden by Betsy Gallagher, Director of Woden Community Service. Betsy outlined the broad range of community welfare involvement of their 170 staff and 120 volunteers and answered many questions that helped fill in the picture of their 35 years of serving the Woden community. As an audience I think we were humbled to hear how such a vital part of our Woden community has grown and worked so effectively and quietly despite huge difficulties with volunteer, staff and client parking and despite clearly inadequate accommodation. From an outsider’s perspective it would appear that Woden Community Service has been so busy getting on with the job of being the glue in Woden’s fabric that there has been no time or energy to be a squeeky wheel to try and improve their working conditions or accommodation.

As an audience and as a Community Council I believe there was a unanimous, if mostly unspoken, resolution to work with Woden Community Service during 2004 in an attempt to both improve their conditions and to assist in their 35 year celebrations.

Woden will continue during 2004 to be a ‘hot spot’ for a wide range of planning and development issues that impinge on our community. We welcome that, but we will also be concentrating our energies on key community ‘assets’ in Woden. We are a young satellite town but there is much in our past to value and much in our present to preserve and improve on.

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