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Ginninderry conservation park corridors –
December 2018 update.

The principles that should govern the protection of Ginninderra Creek and Murrumbidge River conservation corridors around the Ginninderry urban development in the area to the north of the ACT straddling the border with NSW are

  1. Ecological integrity and flora/fauna to be protected.
  2. Aboriginal and European heritage to be respected and protected.
  3. The preservation of aesthetics and sightlines.
  4. Conservation corridors wide enough to meet ecological, educational, cultural and recreational goals.
  5. No urban development should compromise natural heritage values.

ACT conservation park issues

In June 2013, David Maxwell of the Riverview Group indicated that “the ACT Government has announced an agreement with Riverview Projects (ACT) to facilitate the planning and development of new suburbs adjacent to the existing suburb of Holt in the ACT over the next 30 years.” “This will provide “11,500 houses in both ACT and NSW for 30,000 people.

In 2018 a Canberra Times report (Kate Burgess, CT 18 September 2018) indicated that “Documents released under freedom of information laws show the [ACT Government-Corkhill Brothers] joint venture is valued at about $1.6 billion, with the ACT government to make about $208 million in profit. Given the profits are to be shared 60:40, Riverview stands to make $139 million. There is a clear financial incentive for the ACT Government to promote the Ginninderry urban development.

The Ginninderra Falls Association clearly sees a major conflict of interest between the ACT Government and the Development Application approval process that may include many aspects of conservation park developments. This is set to continue for many years.

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Little eagle and scarlet robin beware.

On 27 April 2018 the Canberra Times reported that Canberra company Huon Contractors had started carrying out more than $30 million worth of civil engineering works for Stage One. Construction has begun on the first stage of a cross-border residential development. A Development Application for Ginninderry Stage Two was lodged in November 2018.

Given that the majority of services (water, sewage, garbage, lighting, etc) to the NSW portion of the proposed Ginninderry township will be supplied through ACT, the ACT Government must have a large influence on the design of land development in NSW.

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Has Chief Minister Barr suddenly
experienced an epiphany?

NSW conservation park issues

The Gateway Determination governing the Ginninderry development in NSW was returned to Yass Valley Council on 28 August 2018 after scrutiny by the NSW Department of Planning and the Environment. The documents are publicly available via the web site -

http://leptracking.planning.nsw.gov.au/proposaldetails.php?rid=5724

The documents publicly available are lengthy and cover a huge number of topics relevant to the proposed redevelopment of the land in NSW. The planning proposal for the Parkwood {Ginninderry] release area in NSW will create approximately 5,000 dwellings to accommodate a population of 13,000 people.

An important aspect of the NSW Government decision is that the due date for completing the LEP [Local Environmental Plan] is now 16 April 2021, an extension of 24 months on the original date.

Riverview has been given a long lead time. There is still a long way to go before the NSW land and conservation corridor issues are settled.

The Minister’s statement says in part –

“Please note that at this stage I have not agreed that [Yass Valley] Council has justified inconsistencies with section 9.1 Directions 2.1 Environmental Protection Zones, 2.3 Heritage Conservation and 4.4 Planning for Bushfire Protection. The site contains significant areas of environmentally sensitive land and bushfire hazard and it is possible that consultation with the community and relevant agencies may require further changes to the plan.

As discussed with [Yass Valley] Council and the proponent, a Strategic Bush Fire Study is to be prepared prior to community consultation to address matters raised with Council by the NSW Rural Fire Service.”

Throughout the Planning Proposal it is apparent that the Riverview developers are seeking permission to rewrite the guidelines for rezoning land in the Yass Valley Council LGA with numerous proposals to introduce special Local Environmental Plans (LEPs), and a new principal Parkwood [Ginninderry] LEP.

The Planning Proposal includes let-out clauses that would allow largely unregulated developments on land currently under private ownership, e.g. Special Activities SP1 zoned land that could include Eco tourist facilities, restaurants, cafes, tourist accommodation, and function facilities. Such activities should be wholly outside an envisaged conservation park.

Doug Finlayson,
12 December, 2018

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