The ACT government may have thought it had everyone in the tent when it released the integrated plan for the Red Hill Conservation Area, but two community groups have maintained anger against plans to develop the federal golf course.
A stakeholder swag signed the plan that would allow the Federal Golf Club to build a proposed senior village at the south end of the course to give it financial security.
If it does happen, the deal will raise $ 20 million in the club’s coffers.
But the Garran and Hughes Residents Associations have never shied away from opposing any developments on the field, saying that any deal would mean privatizing public land, causing damage to an environmentally sensitive area and causing traffic chaos in their neighborhood.
They say the Minister of Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman was insincere when he said the plan had community support.
Her petition to the Legislative Assembly has gathered more than 1,200 supporters to date. The two associations support the plan’s first six recommendations, but urge the government to repeal the offensive recommendation 7.
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Garran Residents Association chairman Robert Knight said the government had always said that any development would not go without the support of the majority of the community, but its own consultation admitted that it received only some community support.
“It didn’t find majority support, and yet the proposal somehow ended up on schedule,” said Knight.
Mr. Knight said the club’s proposal was the catalyst for the original petition against the development that led to the Integrated Plan.
“The exact opposite actually happened. The government put into the plan exactly what the community didn’t want, ”he said.
Mr. Knight asked if the club’s only option was to use some of the land on its concessional lease to support its finances, and if the project was just a sugar strike or would provide ongoing revenue.
He said it could get the club a godsend, but at public expense, including what remains of the critically endangered Yellow Box-Blakely Red Gum Woodlands and habitat, as well as scarce nesting sites for the soon-to-be-endangered species, the gang-gang cockatoo and other types.
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The plan calls for a new road at the south end of the course leveled through the green spaces of Garran Hughes Woodland to Kitchener Street.
Mr Knight denied claims that the south end was more degraded than the north section and said he had been walking in that area the entire time and could not tell any difference.
He said development at the north end was largely ruled out due to the risk of fire.
“We are not against urban fillings for medium-density homes – but not on land, which is so important to our wildlife and our local community.”
Mr Knight said that for some reason other groups like the Red Hill Regenerators changed their position as the debate progressed to support the Least Worst option.
The plan has yet to be approved by the assembly and the zoning plan has been amended to change the lease to allow development on the golf course.
Each development application would then have to go through the normal evaluation process.
Mr. Knight said it could be years before there were any development steps, but now is a really critical step in the process.