Opinion – Save our Community Land and Facilities!
Despite the disapproval of the development in Bill Pye Park there is an expectation that the YWCA will bring another sanitised plan to demolish the community facility at 11 Rutherford Crescent Ainslie and replace it with a medium density residential development. The redevelopment of green space, community facilities, sport and recreation land by residential developments in inner city Canberra is a worrying trend. The benefits of this fanatical adherence to Compact Canberra urban infill are hard to see. The impacts of this forced density are plain to see - rapid increase in land prices, loss of canopy and green space, traffic and parking issues and the heat island affect. Acknowledging the reality of climate change, the Government should be taking action to increase the amount and effectiveness of green space while preserving the green spaces and community land that already exists. We are quickly losing the Garden City design so precious to many Canberrans. Heritage is not considered important.
The YWCA bought the block off the Government in 1993 as a concessional lease for $170,000. The price was concessional (below market) because the lease purpose was to operate a ‘childcare centre and community activity centre’. It didn’t take long for the YWCA not to provide either of these services. The Government has shown no interest in enforcing the lease requirements to the benefit of the community. As required by the Territory Plan, the Government needs to protect community land and encourage these groups to build on land designed and zoned for residential development. There is a proposal to build a private childcare centre on public land close by.
Instead of banking this land for current and future needs, our Government rubber stamps residential redevelopment. This short-term thinking will cost the community dearly. Replacement of the 1830 sqm Ainslie site is valued at well over $2 million. In the end the community will pay again.
There is little suburb-wide inner city planning. Population increase and densification of inner Canberra is placing a significant strain on the existing infrastructure. Recent studies have shown that the inner north of Canberra is increasingly short of community facilities. There will be a need for more meeting rooms, pre-schools, childcare centres and primary schools. More green spaces and areas for sport and recreation are needed.
Ironically, the YWCA is an NGO with an annual revenue around $20 million per annum, most of which comes from operating childcare facilities. The rest comes from Government grants. A small amount from charitable donations. The majority of the capital for the redevelopment of this site will be provided by the Commonwealth Government. Ongoing operational funding also comes from government. With most of the funds provided by the public why doesn’t the YWCA build this development on land zoned for multi-unit residential rather than demolishing a community facility?
Despite the denials by the YWCA, ACAT determined that the development would have significant impact on local residential amenity and the trees in Bill Pye Park. It is time for the organisation to listen to the community and give the site back for community use. If you are an Ainslie or Inner North resident please help save our suburb from destructive redevelopment.
Ainslie Residents Association
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YWCA Canberra sets record straight on Ainslie accommodation plans (LINK)
Revealed: the trees of Ainslie don’t cast shadows! (LINK)
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