New Territory Plan a ‘missed opportunity’ to address housing and environmental crises


Greens MLA Jo Clay says an inquiry into the new Territory Plan shows the Government should have gone further, faster to boost housing in existing suburbs.

“Everyone needs a home. But we can’t sprawl endlessly into our precious habitat. We need to prioritise high-quality density with ample green space to build a truly liveable Canberra,” said Ms Clay, ACT Greens’ spokesperson for planning.

Labor’s Planning Ministers ran a four-year planning review which led to a new Territory Plan. Today, the Legislative Assembly’s committee on planning handed up its report into that review.

“The new Territory Plan does not give Canberra the reform we need to look after our people and our planet. The Greens want further zoning changes so we can build more homes, especially public and affordable homes. We need these homes in places Canberrans want to live, not on ever-increasing outskirts.”

Ms Clay made seven recommendations in an appendix to the inquiry report, relating to upzoning, public and community housing, green spaces, biodiversity, nature protection and district strategies.

“Mature cities set city limits. Canberra is already the size of Sydney and Greater London. It’s time to stop the sprawl.

“Good homes need access to essential services like schools, parks, and active and public transport. Canberrans don’t want to spend more of their days stuck in traffic on long commutes. They should be able to walk, ride or catch accessible public transport to work and school.

“Zoning system changes in our existing city footprint would allow for more Canberrans to live where there are already shops, public transport and community facilities,” Ms Clay said.

While supporting these moves to increase supply, the Greens recognise that supply alone will not solve the housing crisis. Canberra needs more public housing. Ms Clay recommends that Housing ACT should be able to buy land at below market value.

“Housing ACT must pay market rates to buy land to build public housing. They can’t afford to do this because ACT Government doesn’t fund them enough to do it. ACT Government already sells land at cheaper rates to some buyers, but they don’t do this for Housing ACT. Why not? Selling land to Housing ACT at rates they can afford would mean we’d have more public housing in well-serviced areas that support people to have a good quality of life.

“If the Greens had responsibility for the planning portfolio we would use it to make life better for people who need homes, while looking after our climate and environment. We don’t need to pit one against the other. We can and must do both.”

Ms Clay is available for comment.

The report and additional comments are available here