ACT government plans new Tuggeranong suburb near Murrumbidgee River
31 March 2016 Rachel Packham, Emma Kelly
The ACT government plans to create a new suburb west of the Tuggeranong town centre, expanding residential development towards the Murrumbidgee River.
ACT Planning Minister Mick Gentleman is to announce plans to redevelop more than 80 hectares of space between Greenway and the river corridor on Thursday.
The suburb, likely to be named Thompson, could take up about 190 hectares, including close to 90 hectares of river corridor and nature reserve.
It would also encompass a number of existing community facilities, including the local Vikings Club, oval and hockey field.
Mr Gentleman said the government would need to investigate whether the proposed development would impinge on the area’s environmental and heritage values before progressing the project.
If the proposal gets the green light it will be the first new suburb in the valley in several decades, with development likely to begin in 2018.
It’s not the first time future development west of the town centre has been discussed.
ACT Senator Zed Seselja has been a strong advocate for development across the Murrumbidgee River, arguing the move would bring more people to the region.
Senator Seselja pushed the previous federal cabinet in April to sign off on a proposal to scrap the National Capital Authority’s power over the river corridor, Namadgi National Park and the Tuggeranong Valley, speeding up planning for new residential developments.
The National Capital Authority would retain control over the parliamentary triangle, major entry roads and parts of the city under the change.
Mr Gentleman said the ACT government “did not believe that previous proposals to bridge the river are appropriate planning measures at the moment” and would take steps to protect the catchment area.
“What we want to see is a development that will highlight the natural assets in the area, the Murrumbidgee River and the sweeping mountains,” he said.
“Any proposal would include green corridors, highlighting the river’s important amenity as well as safeguards protecting the catchment area of the river.”
It is likely the suburb will be named after Darcy Thompson, an early soldier settler in the Tuggeranong Valley who built and lived in the nearby Pine Island Homestead. Much of the land he leased has since been developed as Greenway.
No formal decisions have been made and the name is yet to be approved by the ACT Place Names Committee.
A number of Indigenous names drawn from the area are also being considered. Canberrans can also submit suggestions.
Mr Gentleman said the government would prepare a planning report to determine the area’s suitability, if the community backed the proposal.
He said initial environmental investigations have been completed but more detailed studies were needed.
A draft Territory Plan Variation and National Capital Plan Amendment will be required for the suburb to go ahead and will include community consultation, followed by subsequent development applications for the subdivision of the land and plans for roads, buildings and relevant services.
Mr Gentleman said there was a strong demand for new property in Tuggeranong and the government was committed to providing more housing options near the town centre.
He said housing could include townhouse and terrace lots and some mixed-use sites, depending on feedback.
Mr Gentleman said the suburb’s proximity to Tuggeranong’s retail and employment hub would help breath new life into the town centre and help stimulate urban renewal in the area.
“The 190-hectare area is some of the best land in Canberra, along the green swathes of the river corridor with views to the Brindabellas,” Mr Gentleman said.
“People who make their homes here would be only minutes from central facilities, services and public transport and we really want to hear from the community about how to progress this idea for a new suburb.”
Mr Gentleman said the Murrumbidgee river would become the focal point of any new suburb, similar to plans for Riverview in Canberra’s north, with possible recreational activities or community facilities earmarked for the area.
He said he would like to hear from local residents about the plan, whether they would like the area to be developed and what they would want to see in a new suburb.
Date: 3 March 2016