Parkwood planning proposal in Yass Valley on display for community engagement

Riverview director David Maxwell and planning consultant Tony Adam at Shepherds Lookout in the ACT. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Riverview director David Maxwell and planning consultant Tony Adam at Shepherds Lookout in the ACT. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Residents, businesses and community organisations have the chance to learn more about the Parkwood planning proposal that forms part of the Ginninderry urban-development master plan.

The Parkwood plan, installed at Trader and Co. since early July as an information display, is proposed to be situated in the Yass Valley across the ACT–NSW border northwest of Canberra.

The proposal plan is made up of a 206-hectare nature conservation area, which includes Ginninderra Falls, and 394 hectares for urban development.

The overall development, proposed to be the first cross-border project in Australian history, is a 60-40 joint venture between the ACT Government and Riverview Developments.

Access to the proposed Parkwood development is available only via Parkwood Road in West Belconnen, ACT.

David Maxwell, managing director of Review Projects, which acts as project manager, said the interest and feedback so far from Yass Valley had been strong.

“There appears to be a general understanding of the need to provide housing for growing populations, balanced with the need to care for the environment,” he said.

The development in Yass Valley would include 5000 new homes based on Ginninderry’s 6 Star Green Star Community rating by the Green Building Council of Australia.

Residents engage with the Parkwood planning proposal team at Trader and Co. Photo: Toby Vue

Residents engage with the Parkwood planning proposal team at Trader and Co. Photo: Toby Vue

For development to occur, land on both sides need to be rezoned.

While rezoning of the ACT land was approved in October 2016, rezoning the Yass Valley area is expected to be decided by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in 2018.

This will require an amendment to the Yass Valley Local Environmental Plan by the planning proposal, which Yass Valley Council (YVC) is reviewing.

“Council staff are currently reviewing the information and anticipate presenting a report to the August 2017 council meeting,” director of planning Chris Berry said.

Even if Parkwood is rezoned in 2018, however, the earliest development is not expected to occur in NSW until 2033.

In June 2017, the Ginninderra Falls Association (GFA) called for the rezoning decision to be delayed after a report it commissioned concluded that fire risk at the proposed development area on the ACT–NSW border has been underestimated.

“This bushfire report indicates that prior to the Yass Valley Council rezoning land for housing, a more thorough assessment of the threat from bushfires is needed,” GFA member Robyn Coghlan said.

Dr Jason Sharples, author of the report, at UNSW Canberra said the current risk-assessment standard did not consider recent scientific insights into extreme fire development.

“The current standard assumes that radiant heat is the main cause of houses burning down...Findings from the Canberra bushfires show that ember attack is a much more significant risk. The Ginninderry development will be particularly prone to ember attack in a bushfire,” Dr Sharples said.

Mr Maxwell said that while the development’s proposals comply with current standards and that they were confident in the 2014 report, they also “take all feedback into people’s safety seriously and have contacted Dr Sharples seeking more feedback and to gain a better understanding of his report”.

Chris Berry said issues in the study would be examined as part of the report to be presented to councillors.

Ginninderra Falls. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Ginninderra Falls. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

YVC will need to approve the planning proposal before the NSW Department of Planning and Environment makes a decision about issuing a Gateway Determination.

A formal, statutory consultation with the community will occur if it is issued. Any interested person may then make formal submissions about the planning proposal to YVC.

In hosting the planning proposal, Trader and Co. said it did not endorse the development.

“Instead, we believe it is important for the community to become aware of local urban expansion and development and to have input into the future design of your local community...including its impact on our natural environment and cultural heritage” the cafe said in a statement.

Kate MacMaster at Trader and Co. said they have contacted the GFA about potential use of the cafe for further dialogues.

“I believe they are working out a schedule at present and will let us know soon what times and days they will be in Trader to chat with the community about the falls and associated issues,” Ms MacMaster said.

The Parkwood planning proposal display is installed until November 2017.

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