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Draft Amendment 88 - Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton

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Introduction

The National Capital Authority (NCA) is established under the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (the Act). The National Capital Plan (the Plan) came into effect on 21 January 1990. In accordance with the Act, the NCA is required to keep the Plan under constant review and to propose amendments to it where necessary. The object of the Plan is ‘to ensure that Canberra and the Territory are planned and developed in accordance with their national significance’.

The Plan identifies matters of national significance in the planning and development of Canberra and the Territory. These are:

  • The pre-eminence of the role of Canberra and the Territory as the centre of National Capital functions, and as the symbol of Australian national life and values.
  • Conservation and enhancement of the landscape features which give the National Capital its character and setting, and which contribute to the integration of natural and urban environments.
  • Respect for the key elements of the Griffins’ formally adopted plan for Canberra.
  • Creation, conservation and enhancement of fitting sites, approaches and backdrops for national institutions and ceremonies as well as National Capital uses.
  • The development of a city which both respects environmental values and reflects national concerns with the sustainability of Australia’s urban areas.

Within the framework of this legislative object or goal, key objectives of the Plan are to:

  • Recognise the pre-eminence of the role of Canberra and the Territory as Australia’s National Capital.
  • Further develop and enhance the Central National Area which includes the Parliamentary Zone and its setting and the main diplomatic sites and national institutions, as the heart of the National Capital.
  • Emphasise the national significance of the main avenues and approach routes.
  • Respect the geometry and intent of Walter Burley Griffin’s formally adopted plan for Canberra.
  • Maintain and enhance the landscape character of Canberra and the Territory as the setting for the National Capital.
  • Protect the undeveloped hill tops and the open spaces which divide and give form to Canberra’s urban area.
  • Provide a plan offering flexibility and choice to enable the Territory government properly to fulfil its functions.
  • Support and promote environmentally responsible urban development practices.

The purpose of Draft Amendment 88 – Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton (DA88) is to vary the land use policy for Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton, from ‘National Capital Use’ to a mixed use policy allowing for residential, office, commercial accommodation, and ancillary uses such as café and restaurant.

DA88 to the Plan (set out in Part 2: National Capital Plan Draft Amendment 88 – Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton) has been prepared in accordance with section 23 of the Act.

Part 1: Context

1.1           Background

The Department of Finance (Finance) has requested an amendment to the National Capital Plan (the Plan) to change the land use policy of Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton, from ‘National Capital Use’ to a mixed use policy permitting residential, office, commercial accommodation, and ancillary uses such as café and restaurant.

Block 3 Section 22 Barton is unleased National Land managed by Finance. The site is located at the corner of National Circuit and Sydney Avenue, and is currently vacant. The southern end of Windsor Walk abuts the site on its south-western boundary, and other nearby or adjacent uses include Little National Hotel to the north, the Hotel Realm precinct to the east, and the RG Casey Building to the west.

Block 15 Section 22 Barton is adjacent to Block 3 and is currently unleased Territory Land managed by the ACT Government’s Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate. 

1.2           Supporting studies

Purdon Planning, on behalf of Finance, has prepared a planning report to support the proposed amendment to the Plan. The planning report describes the site and its characteristics, and examines detailed matters such as site servicing, traffic impacts and parking, environment and design. Detailed reports and investigations regarding these matters are included as attachments to the planning report, and each issue is summarised below.

Open Space

Development of Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton will result in the loss of an open space area. An analysis of the proximity, quality, type and accessibility of open space in and around the Barton precinct was undertaken to examine the impact of the loss this space (refer Attachment A of the planning report). Findings of the analysis indicate that 78 open space areas are located within a 1.5 kilometre (approximately 15 minutes walking distance) of the subject site). These open spaces include formal and informal spaces, as well as areas that have high biodiversity value or are significant for the visual amenity they offer.

Key open spaces close to the site include Telopea Park, York Park, Windsor Walk, Old Parliament House gardens, the National Gallery of Australia sculpture Gardens, the National Rose Gardens, Lake Burley Griffin and foreshore areas such as Bowen Park. Many of the open spaces in proximity to the site will remain as open space due to planning and/or heritage requirements.

The analysis undertaken concluded that the development of Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton would not negatively impact on the overall supply of open space in the area.

Indicative development options

Cox Architecture were engaged to examine preliminary design concepts for the site which incorporate the proposed changes to land use and demonstrate potential floor plates, gross floor area and landscaping considerations (refer Attachment B of the planning report). Each of the four options developed meet the quantitative requirements of the Plan in regard to matters such as building height and setbacks.

Traffic impacts and parking

Northrop Consulting Engineers examined traffic impacts based on the highest potential traffic generating land use (residential) (refer Attachment D of the planning report). The traffic impact study concluded that there is sufficient capacity in the existing road network to cater for the proposed uses. Some minor modification to the road network may be required pending detailed design.

Preliminary advice from Northrop suggests that parking for the site can be accommodated on site in surface and basement car parking.

Site servicing

Northrop also examined requirements pertaining to site servicing and utilities, and stormwater issues (refer Attachment D of the planning report). The following conclusions were drawn:

  • significant level changes on site may be required to accommodate stormwater requirements
  • the site is not currently serviced by sewer or gas, however there is sufficient capacity available
  • the size of the existing water tie is likely to meet capacity but fall short on pressure, although this can be rectified through infrastructure works
  • electricity supply is possible through a minor augmentation by ACTEW.

Conclusion

The planning report concludes that the site is suitable for a broader range of uses for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • The site is in a central location in Barton, with good access to employment, professional services, arts and entertainment facilities, the Parliamentary Zone, open space areas and recreational facilities, and transport services.
  • A broader range of uses will contribute positively to the character of Barton as a vibrant, convenient mixed use precinct.
  • The proposed land use change has the potential to facilitate more efficient use of a site in a prime location of the National Capital.

1.3           Environment

There are known environmental constraints on Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton. The south east portion of the site currently contains two Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES). These are the Critically Endangered ecological community ‘natural temperate grassland of the south eastern highlands’ (natural temperate grassland) and the Critically Endangered Synemon plana (Golden Sun Moth). Habitat for these matters co-occurs and is contiguous across both blocks.

Prior to developing the site a referral to the Department of the Environment and Energy under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) will be required.

Pending the outcomes of the EPBC referral process, the NCA will forward the draft amendment to the Minister for consideration. The draft amendment will not be forwarded to the Minister prior to resolution of EPBC matters.

1.4      Explanatory statement

Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton are within the Barton Precinct under the Plan, and subject to the provisions of the Barton Precinct Code. The blocks are further identified as being within the York Park area and specific provisions of the Plan apply to this area. Changes to existing land use provisions, the York Park Masterplan, and current location specific provisions for Block 3 Section 22 Barton are proposed. These are described below.

Land use

The land use for Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton, as identified in Figure 16 of the Plan, is currently ‘National Capital Use’, which is defined under the Plan as:

the use of any land, building or structure for the purpose of a work of special status and national interest. This includes the National Library, the National Gallery, the High Court, the National Archives, the National Museum of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the Prime Minister’s Residence, the Governor-General’s Residence, the Australian National University, the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Commonwealth offices needing prestigious locations, national memorials, National Association Offices [as herein defined], a hospitality house or a Commonwealth Government conference centre and the like.

The land use provisions of the Plan for the York Park area further identify that the following uses (in addition to National Capital Use) are permitted in the York Park area:

  • Diplomatic Mission
  • Office (which may include Commonwealth offices and offices for national associations)
  • Open Space.

Permitted ancillary uses are:

  • Retail
  • Personal Service Establishment
  • Child Care Centre.

The draft amendment proposes to add the following permitted uses for Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton:

  • Commercial Accommodation (not including a caravan park/camping ground)
  • Residential
  • Ancillary uses of Café; Restaurant.

Diplomatic Mission will be excluded as a permitted land use for Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton.

York Park Masterplan

Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton are within the area subject to the York Park Masterplan under the Plan. The development of York Park and environs is primarily to accommodate prestigious offices requiring proximity to Parliament House. York Park occupies a prominent site in the Central National Area and contributes to the urban form and landscape features which give the National Capital its special character and setting. It forms part of the backdrop and approaches to Parliament House and an edge to the National Triangle at Kings Avenue. York Park has a key role in the daily functions of government, provides sites for the headquarters of major national associations and plays an international role in receiving officials and dignitaries. Consequently, it is necessary that development of York Park and its public domain should achieve design excellence of a high order.

The York Park masterplan contained in the Barton Precinct Code of the Plan encompasses the area between National Circuit, Canberra Avenue, State Circle, and Kings Avenue. Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton are located in the area subject to the master plan.

Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton are in an area generally identified as an environmental protection area (subject to further study) (refer Figure 2 for the existing York Park Masterplan – Indicative development plan). It is proposed that the site no longer be identified as such, and the site identified as a potential building site. The amended York Park Masterplan is shown in Part 2. 

Figure 17: York Park Indicative Development Plan

Specific provisions for Block 3 Section 22 Barton

The Plan currently sets out provisions specifically for Block 3 Section 22 Barton. The objective of these is to ‘protect the natural and cultural heritage values of the site’. Detailed conditions set out under this objective are as follows:

Any new development will require an independent assessment to be undertaken to determine the impact (if any) of any development on the Natural and Cultural Heritage values of the site in accordance with relevant legislation.

The legislative framework in relation to natural and cultural heritage is such that assessment is required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 regardless of whether the Plan requires this to occur. In addition, should the proposed action referred to under section 1.3 be approved, the provisions in the Plan will become redundant. It is proposed that these provisions be deleted.    

1.5 Draft Amendment process

The process for making an amendment to the Plan is outlined below.

  1. Proposal by the NCA of a Draft Amendment to the Plan
  2. Public consultation on a Draft Amendment 
  3. Submission to Minister
  4. Action by Minister
  5. Parliamentary scrutiny
  6. Expiration of disallowance period

1.6           Public consultation

The NCA welcomes written comments on DA88 from interested parties as part of the consultation process. All responses received will be considered before DA88 is submitted to the Minister for Local Government and Territories in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

Hard copies of DA88 are available on request by contacting:

National Capital Authority
Ground Floor, Treasury Building
King Edward Terrace
PARKES ACT 2600

02 6271 2888

Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday

draft.amendment@natcap.gov.au

Public information session

A public information session will be held on Thursday 24 August 2017, from 12pm to 1pm at the National Capital Authority, Griffin Room, Ground Floor, Treasury Building, King Edward Terrace, PARKES, ACT 2600. The NCA invites interested parties to register their interest in attending by email draft.amendment@natcap.gov.au.

Submissions to DA88 can be:

  • emailed to draft.amendment@natcap.gov.au   
  • mailed to Chief Planner, National Capital Authority, GPO Box 373, Canberra, ACT 2601
  • delivered to National Capital Authority, Ground Floor Treasury Building, King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600.

Submissions are invited until close of business on 22 September 2017.

Further information on DA88 is available by telephone on 02 6271 2888 or email draft.amendment@natcap.gov.au.

Permission to disclose name and address

The NCA seeks an open and transparent draft amendment process. Following public consultation on the draft amendment, the NCA will prepare a Consultation Report which will be published on the NCA website. This report will include a summary of each submission. The NCA intends to publish the name of each person making the submission, but will not publish contact details (such as physical address, email or phone number).

If you have a concern about having your name published on the internet or wish to make a confidential submission, you must make this clear when submitting your comments. Say why you want your submission to be kept confidential.

The NCA will consider requests for confidentiality, but cannot make promises in advance. If you have concerns about confidentiality, please contact the NCA to discuss before making a submission.

Part 2: National Capital Plan Amendment 88 – Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton

The National Capital Plan is amended by the following:

Section 4.4.5, Location Specific

  1. Delete section titled ‘Land use for York Park area’ and replace with:

Development and redevelopment should accord with the detailed conditions of planning, design and development below.

Permitted land uses for the York Park area generally are:

  • Diplomatic Mission (with the exception of Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton)
  • National Capital Use
  • Office (which may include Commonwealth offices and offices for national associations)
  • Open Space.

Permitted ancillary uses are:

  • Retail
  • Personal Service Establishment
  • Child Care Centre.

Additional permitted land uses for Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton are:

  • Commercial Accommodation (not including a caravan park/camping ground)
  • Residential.

Additional permitted ancillary land uses for Blocks 3 and 15 Section 22 Barton are:

  • Café
  • Restaurant.

Commercial parking structures in the York Park area are to be located where identified on the Indicative Development Plan at Figure 17. Retail and Personal Service Establishments are permitted at the ground level of parking structures as ancillary small scale facilities.

Retail and Personal Service Establishments should be provided at the ground floor level of Offices and structured Car Parks in the location identified for a ‘Retail Plaza’ on the Indicative Development Plans at Figure 17 and Figure 20.

Large spaces for recreation are to be provided at either end of Windsor Walk including a large space suitable for active recreation at the Canberra Avenue end of Windsor Walk as depicted in Figure 17.

Figure 17: York Park Masterplan – Indicative development plan

  1. Delete Figure 17 and replace with:

Proposed Figure 17 - York Park Master Plan as Part of Draft Amendment 88

Section 4.4.5, Other sites

  1. Delete section titled ‘Block 3 Section 22 Barton’.