A covert and questionable technical amendment has enabled the Barr government to proceed with public housing development in suburban locations where it would otherwise have been prohibited by the Territory Plan, Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Nicole Lawder said today.
Documents recently released under Freedom of Information show the ACT government previously could not build public housing on land zoned for community facilities because the Territory Plan did not permit community land for residential use.
The Public Housing Renewal Taskforce knew it would require a Territory Plan Variation in order to permit the government to use Community Facility Zoned land for residential purposes.
Aware that its public housing plans were in breach of the Territory Plan as early as April 2015, the government quietly put through a technical amendment, using a Notifiable Instrument, in December 2015. The amendment changed the wording, and subsequently the meaning of the Development Code from “supportive housing” (defined as housing for persons with special housing needs for reasons of age or disability) to include “social housing”, thereby enabling the government to argue that they can use Community Facility Zoned land for public housing.
This fundamentally changes the meaning of CFZ land.
“A technical amendment is not permitted to change the meaning of the development code, but in this case it clearly does,” Ms Lawder said.
“Minister Mick Gentleman needs to explain how this amendment holds up under scrutiny. The government knew its development proposal was in breach of the Territory Plan and so it quietly made an illegitimate amendment to skirt around the issue.
“Residents in Chapman, Holder, Wright, Mawson and Monash are anguished over current proposals, not to mention the manner in which the government has largely ignored their concerns through its lack of genuine consultation.
“What this means is that parks and other community facility zoned land all around Canberra may soon be switched over to public housing, given the government’s questionable amendment.
“The government owes residents a sound explanation on how this amendment stacks up,” Ms Lawder concluded.