Friday, April 19, 2024

Planning Institute welcomes revised ACT plan for growth

The Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) has welcomed the release of a new revised interim version of the Territory Plan, District Strategies and planning system reforms for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

PIA’s ACT Division President, Trevor Fitzpatrick said the revised plan considered many of the issues raised by industry groups and the community and sets the framework for a new outcomes-focused planning system.  

“Planners welcome the key changes to residential zones which will help address the current housing crisis and enable more ‘missing middle’ homes like low-medium density townhouse-style development,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“PIA especially supports the change to the current RZ1 zone to allow unit titling of dualoccupancy development on blocks over 800m2. These RZ1 zoned areas make up the majority of land in our suburbs and are predominately developed as single detached houses.

“These changes will ensure appropriate protections for the character of suburban areas, whilst enabling more diverse housing types in appropriate locations.  This will provide more housing choice, including the option to downsize into a new smaller home while continuing to live in the same neighbourhood.

“This is because the changes will apply only to large blocks and provide a limit on the size of the second dwelling,” he said.

The current land use zones for Canberra include an ‘RZ2 zone’ around most local centres and group centres. These are areas intended to accommodate low-medium density townhouse type development. However, the strict planning controls of the current Territory Plan have been a significant barrier to redevelopment of these areas.  

“PIA also welcomes changes to the RZ2 zone, which will help unlock redevelopment in these areas to help meet Canberra’s housing needs.  These changes include enabling subdivision of land prior to redevelopment and expanding the type of units that can be built will de-risk new housing types for our community,” said Mr Fitzpatrick.  

Put simply, for most suburban areas the costs to purchase existing dwellings within RZ2 zones and redevelop to the low density the current Territory Plan requirements has meant that the economics of redevelopment do not add up and for most suburban areas there has been negligible redevelopment of RZ2 zoned areas surrounding shopping centres over the last decade, with any redevelopment occurring within the commercial zoned areas of centres, the Institute said in a statement.

“As the plan moves forward, it will be critical for the ACT Government to closely monitor implementation of these changes to ensure they achieve their objective, including the acceleration of more housing choice for Canberrans,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

PIA supports the reform directions which strengthen strategic plan alignment, introduce district strategies, consolidate development standards, offer design guides and improve assessment pathways. Implementation of the revised Territory Plan and related planning system reform will require a significant change management effort.    

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