WCCC Representation – Defence College and Defence Hosuing Stirling and Holder

As you would be aware the Weston Creek Community Council has been actively involved in a number of the planing issues regarding the above five components of the collocation of Defence Force Staff Colleges. The purpose of this letter is to keep you informed of the results of the last meeting of the WCCC, the outcomes of consultations we have had with other parties in Weston Creek and to request that you keep us informed of specific government consultation processes.

Gary Humphries

Minister for Planning

ACT Legislative Assembly

London Circuit

Canberra ACT 2601

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Dear Minister

  1. Defence Forces Staff Colleges upgrade
  2. Cotter Road, Weston Creek, traffic alterations
  3. Streeton Drive traffic calming
  4. Streeton Drive Housing
  5. Ex-Holder High School surrounds

As you would be aware the Weston Creek Community Council has been actively involved in a number of the planing issues regarding the above five components of the collocation of Defence Force Staff Colleges. The purpose of this letter is to keep you informed of the results of the last meeting of the WCCC, the outcomes of consultations we have had with other parties in Weston Creek and to request that you keep us informed of specific government consultation processes.

The Community Council has consulted widely among residents of Weston Creek seeking their views on the proposals put by the Department of Defence and the Defence Housing Authority (DHA). To this end the Community Council sought input from residents through its regularly published newspaper columns in the Valley View and Southside Chronicle, a radio broadcast on 2CN and with a pamphlet circulated to nearly every household in Weston Creek. All residents were invited to our regular monthly meeting (February) to discuss the Defence College and Housing project. Approximately 100 people attended the public meeting in the Royals Football Club auditorium.

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For clarity I will deal with the issues accordingly;

 

Defence Force Staff Colleges upgrade

 

Our consultations indicate a generally favorable acceptance of the college upgrade project. The only two issues, which raised comment, concern external lighting and the provision of ACT Land to the Department of Defence for carparking. The National Capital Authority has released for comment a paper (National Capital Plan draft amendment 35) on providing land to Defence for carparking. Issues raised in consultations included stormwater pollution abatement from the proposed new carpark and retaining a continuous river corridor on the Molonglo River below Scrivener Dam (the land is in the Molonglo River Corridor). Possible impacts on the Mt. Stromlo Observatory of external lighting generated from the increased number of buildings and car park lighting are also of concern. In due course we would like to know what action, if any, has been taken on these issues.

 

Cotter Road, Weston Creek, traffic alterations

 

The access road to the Defence College generated substantial debate. We are aware that the Cotter Road from Yarra Glen at Government House to the parkway is National Capital Authority (NCA) ‘Designated Area’ under the National Capital Plan and the Territory Plan and from the parkway past the College and Weston Creek is ACT Government controlled land. To provide a perspective of what happened at the meeting I have listed below some of the questions asked at the meeting.

  • Why is there a requirement for a roundabout on the Cotter Road?
  • Is there any information on the extent of the increased delays for traffic exiting Weston Creek?
  • What is the impact on the congestion at the Streeton Drive/Cotter Road intersection, which is already overloaded at peak times and you cannot even get through when the lights are green.
  • Is the ‘form one lane’ problem to be removed by duplication?
  • Will giving way at a roundabout exacerbate the problems at the ‘form one lane’?
  • Are traffic lights being considered?
  • Are there any other options for an entry?
  • Could a tunnel under from the Cotter Road (from the western- parkway side) be considered, to go under Cotter Rd? [Similar to that at CSIRO under Barry Drive to Dryandra Street].
  • Will the roundabout be double lane? [Like Cotter Road/Lady Denman Drive].
  • Can the lanes from the proposed roundabout to the parkway over-pass be double lanes?
  • Can the single lane from Streeton Drive uphill to the roundabout be double even if the downhill lane remains single?

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The meetings preferred outcome is for a dual lane roundabout with lane duplication (in both directions) to/from the new roundabout to the meet with the existing dual lanes of the parkway overpass. Participating speakers at the meeting also asked that the traffic lane from Streeton Drive exiting Weston Creek on Cotter Road uphill be duplicated to the new roundabout. At this stage there does not seem to be a need to duplicate the lane for incoming traffic to Weston Creek. The WCCC would like to be kept informed as to when the formal public consultation process for roadworks commences.

 

Streeton Drive Traffic calming

 

A representative of the traffic engineers consulting to DHA (Hughes, Trueman and Reinhold) attended and presented draft(?) traffic plans that looked very detailed. The questions raised at the meeting were:

  • Why are speed humps being placed on a main road like Streeton Drive?
  • How big are the pedestrian refuges? [Compared with Namitjira Drive and/or Badimara Street].
  • How will cars get past buses stopped at bus stops on Streeton Drive, which are alongside pedestrian refuges?
  • Will the options on the plan increase congestion on the road?
  • Will there be turning lanes?
  • Are pedestrian lights to be installed
  • Why can’t a proper cross intersection be formed at Bangalay Cres?
  • When will plans be available to comment on?
  • Could the raised speed humps be moved further along the road to help slow traffic near where parents drop off and collect children for Chapman Primary School?
  • Will the pedestrian refuges help children move to Rivett Primary and Canberra College -Stirling? Will they be opposite existing footpaths?
  • Will the options for Streeton Drive be available for public comment in DA?

The WCCC is of the opinion that pedestrian refuges will be needed to encourage (and assist) walking access through the new estate. A model similar to Namitjira Drive could be considered; no speed humps should be placed on Streeton Drive.

 

The WCCC would like to be consulted when the formal public consultation process for Streeton Drive roadworks commences.

 

Streeton Drive Housing

 

There was considerable debate on the granting of a lease to the developer DHA. A number of people questioned how and why the ACT Government agencies involved implemented a non-competitive process. This concept is outlined in the issues paper “Appropriateness of dealing with developers outside a competitive process June 1998“. This paper indicates that dealing outside the competitive process should only be done if there is considerable public benefit from dealing on a direct basis.

Local residents advised that, as yet neither the ACT Government nor DHA have provided evidence that there is considerable public benefit from dealing outside a competitive process. We ask that you and your agencies respond to us specifically on the issue of ‘considerable public benefit’ in respect of this proposed development. Also we are aware that a single lease for the entire site has been granted – this is contrary to normal practice of a lease for each dwelling in a development. The aim appears to be to decrease the time for lease approvals, could you please explain why this process has been adopted.

Nearby residents of 20+ years raised a number of issues. They advised that the parcel of land was originally designated public open space. This was derived from the fact that it was a builders’ dump during the construction of Weston Creek. In 1993 (1994?) this was changed to residential zoning. DHA have indicated that approximately 25,000 cubic metres of rubble will need to be removed from the site and compaction of clean fill will be required. The residents questioned the appropriateness of the site given the expense, noise, dust and subsidence issues involved with developing this particular parcel of land. What examination took place to validate the rezoning?

The draft layout of dwellings circulated by DHA indicates that a number (perhaps 10 of 50) will have direct driveway access to Streeton Drive. We ask that in the Development Application (DA) process this be examined in detail as the proposed estate is on a sweeping bend of Streeton Drive with limited visibility from the southern approach-heading north.

The internal configuration on the plans distributed by the engineers has road widths that will not allow access of garbage and recycling trucks, nor buses – is this best practice in planning? Given the rank of the military staff expected to be accommodated in the dwellings 2 cars per household would not be unrealistic. The design and width of the access point to Streeton Drive for an additional 100 vehicles needs careful consideration.

The Department of Defence has on a number of occasions indicated that it is their preference that military staff and students of the college be located close to the complex (within 5 kms). In addition, students could be at the college for up to 3 years then undertake a ‘back-to-back’ posting at Russell. The current belief is that families would not be asked to relocate within Canberra to ‘free-up’ the houses in the estate for new intakes of students. Does this mean that later intakes of students will be spread throughout Canberra as defence personnel occupy the dwellings? It appears that only the first intake, and portions of later intakes will enjoy being in the 5 kms radius. This issue considerably undermines the stated need for the development to be within 5 kms of the college.

There is expected to be an increase in primary and secondary aged children in Weston Creek as a result of the estate. Information on the spare capacity of Arawang Primary, Chapman Primary and Rivett Primary to accommodate the increased numbers in the year 2001 is requested. The spare capacity of Stromlo High and Canberra College (Weston Campus) is also requested. It is understood that Weston Creek schools have been asked to accommodate up to 50 primary school students in 2001 from the Stirling estate. Will the number of out-of-area enrolments able to be accepted by Weston Creek schools consequentially decline? We need to consider this impact. People in Canberra normally live close to the school they wish their children to attend and parents commute to work. In this case the parents will be close to work and perhaps a significant number of students will commute to schools outside Weston Creek. We ask that we be provided with the impact analysis, which has been undertaken by the education portfolio.

 

Ex-Holder High School surrounds

 

The DHA has indicated that they are in negotiations with PALM in respect of the ex-Holder High School (now called the Grant Cameron Centre) and the surrounding land. The WCCC would like to be kept informed of any consultation issues on the use of the building or the rezoning of the ex-school ovals for housing to meet the additional DHA requirements. The rezoning of open space to housing is a very sensitive issue in Holder as there is little public open space at present (with the closure of two schools) and the removal of open space will be to the detriment of the local residents.

Overall the WCCC is supportive of the upgrade of the Defence College and the consequential impact on Weston Creek. However, as a representative group for the residents of Weston Creek we bring these issues before you and ask for a well-considered and detailed response.

We are aware that a number of your portfolio areas and agencies will need to be involved in preparing a detailed response to the WCCC on the numerous issues and concerns raised in this letter. Input may also be needed from other portfolio’s e.g. Education. The executive of the WCCC is available to discuss the above at a mutually convenient opportunity.

Yours sincerely

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Bob Sutherland

Chairman

WCCC

6th March 2000

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