Plans to redevelop Strathgordon Court, Lyons

The Community Services Directorate gave a presentation to WVCC on its plans to redevelop Strathgordon Court in Lyons. http://www.communityservices.act.gov.au/hcs/act-omnibus-draft-territory-plan-community-consultation .
In its submission on these plans, WVCC has urged higher quality design and a commitment to continued public housing on the site.

Click Full story to see presentation slides …


WVCC Submission on proposal to redevelop Strathgordon Court, Lyons

(part of proposed Omnibus Territory Plan Variations)

WVCC appreciates the opportunity CSD has provided to comment on the revised version of this proposal, as put forward at WVCC’s 3 September meeting.

We wish to make the following points:

Retain the site for public housing

WVCC understands that the sites will be redeveloped for non-public housing purposes. Given the central location of the site (close to the shops and facilities of Woden Town Centre, including the Health Centre, the Library and Bus Interchange) WVCC believes that, at a minimum, the same number of public housing units that are currently on Block 1 Section 53 should be retained for social housing in the redevelopment, or that at least 10 per cent of dwellings in the redevelopment should be set aside for social housing – whichever is the greater. This will ensure that current and future social housing tenants will continue to have the opportunity of living close to facilities.

Aim for the best in design quality

As a public housing site, there is an opportunity for CSD/ACT Housing to develop the site as a showcase of intelligent and imaginative social housing design. Whilst appreciating that the preliminary plans are indicative only, WVCC is concerned that the current concepts being put forward appear to represent a very basic level of design thinking – boxes to put people in, rather than the creation of a liveable and sustainable medium density development.

This very prominent site represents an exciting redevelopment opportunity to begin the much-needed transformation of Woden Town Centre and could be an exemplar of high quality design, incorporating innovation and excellence in built form as well as sustainable design principles which will enable residents to live in low energy homes with good connectivity to nearby services and access to adequate sustainable transport modes.

Solar orientation

The buildings have been positioned with the purpose of fitting as many apartments as possible onto the site. Shadow effects on nearby properties have been considered, but the solar orientation of the buildings/units themselves has not been specifically considered. It is disappointing when government, as developer, fails to lead the way on this important issue.

Reduce height of buildings

WVCC believes the plans put forward by CSD represent an over-development of the sites in terms of building heights. We suggest that, for the majority of the sites, maximum building height should be limited to three storeys, which is consistent with the RZ4 zone (ie medium density development). The WVCC could potentially support building heights up to six storeys, depending on the layout of on the site.

It is noted that the proposal contains one ten storey building  as well as two eight storey buildings. WVCC considers that the addition of buildings of this bulk and height could result in an over-development of the site and a confusing, unappealing visual mess of clustered block buildings.

Increase setbacks on Hindmarsh and Melrose Drives

Recreational space on the northern side of the new development is to be welcomed, but the development shows scant respect to the major roads to the east (Melrose) and to the south (Hindmarsh). The community has repeatedly voiced its concerns with regard to SkyPlaza, which derive, at least in part, from the lack of setbacks from Hindmarsh drive. It is important that this mistake is not repeated on the ‘Strathy’ site. Setbacks should be increased from those identified in the concept plans, so that a greater degree of landscaping and planting can be accommodated.

Traffic effects on Hindmarsh and Melrose Drives

It is disappointing that so little thought has so far been given to the traffic implications of this development. Both Hindmarsh and Melrose Drives are congested and busy streets. The addition of some hundreds of residents and their vehicles will make these streets unworkable. Before proceeding any further, professional advice on these matters should be undertaken, as it will have a direct effect on the number of apartments on the site.

Improved walking and cycling to the surrounding networks should also be considered.

Overall … less haste, please!

Omnibus Territory Plan variations reduce the opportunities for change and adaptation, and overwhelm the community’s ability to respond in productive ways. When combined with the other redevelopments of public housing that are planned in many parts of Canberra (eg Northbourne Avenue), it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the ACT Government is placing its commercial and densification agendas ahead of all other considerations.  Phasing changes and linking them with explicit forward planning of the public housing assets would be a preferable overall strategy.

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