Environment and Planning Forum Minutes - June 2016

Community Councils and Industry

Angie Bletsas – ACTCOSS
Andrew MacKenzie – ACT Institute of Landscape  Architect
Damian Haas – Belconnen Community Council
Adam Hobill – Building Designers Australia
Larry O’Loughlin - Conservation Council ACT  Region
David Denham  - Griffith  Narrabundah Community Association
Kevin Cox – Gungahlin Community Council
Leo Dobes – Inner South Canberra Community  Council
Michael Hopkins – Master Builders  Association, ACT
Denis O’Brien – North Canberra Community  Council
Jeff Ibbotson – Pedal Power
Glenys Patulny - Tuggeranong Community  Council
Pat McGinn – Weston Creek Community Council
Mike Reddy – Woden Valley Community Council

ACT Government

Dorte Ekelund – Director-General, EPD (Chair)
Gary Rake – Deputy Director-General, EPD
Brett Phillips - Executive Director,  Strategic Planning, EPD
David Roulston – Director and Chief  Information Officer, TAMS
Anna Gurnhill, Project Manager, Major  Projects and Transport, EPD
Mayumi Smith, Communications, EPD (minute  taker)
Alix Kaucz – Territory Plan, EPD
George Cilliers – Development Assessment,  EPD


Elizabeth Hurst – Belconnen Community Council
Ewan Brown – COTA
Stephen Hodge – Cycling Promotions
Kirk Coningham - MBA
Annie Lane – Executive Director, Environment,  EPD
Tony Carmichael – Executive Director,  Strategic Planning, EPD
Jim Corrigan – Executive Director, Planning  Delivery, EPD
Jess Buik – Executive Officer to the  Director-General, EPD

Welcome & Apologies

The Director-General of the Environment and  Planning Directorate, Dorte Ekelund, welcomed attendees and advised  members of apologies received.

Dorte acknowledged the 50th  birthday for Belconnen and also welcomed Brett Phillips who is the new recruit  for Jim Corrigan, Planning Delivery, EPD.   It was noted that the meeting was David Roulston’s last forum, as David  moves to a new role within TAMS.

Notes and actions from previous meeting – 28 April  2016

Notes and actions from the previous meeting  were agreed, noting that both Item 7 and Item 9 were not yet actioned – David Roulston  to follow up.

Members Issues

A number of items were raised following discussion of  last meeting’s action items.  This  included general members’ feedback as well as other miscellaneous items:

  • Links on websites need to be maintained for historical  reasons.
  • Positive feedback about new Commissioner was mentioned
  • It was suggested that the new Commissioner present to  EPF in near future.
  • Mugga solar farm is starting construction, operational  in 2017.
  • Solar highway reference in media a good description.
  • EPD will co-host business breakfast in late July as  follow on from recent Actsmart awards.
  • Green diplomacy network to be formed to show what can  be achieved through Actsmart program.
  • Kangaroo fence on Tuggeranong parkway is to protect  motorists and kangaroos as a safety measure.
  • Planning regulations being looked at and how this will  affect climate change. Will government focus on this? MBA will liaise with EPD  on this matter and also include Commissioner.

Director-General’s update report

The Director-General presented her report for March  - April 2016 copies of the Statement of Planning Intent Newsletter  were also circulated to members.

Action – The D-Gs report to be emailed to forum members.

Active Travel Office Update

At the last forum meeting, Anna Gurnhill outlined two key initiatives  for the Active Travel Office.  The initiatives  mentioned were an improved web presence and the other being research across  Australia and New Zealand jurisdictions to benchmark how the ACT is placed.  Anna reported that both these activities are  nearing completion.

The interactive website will include regular updates, highlight events  and activities as well as make online resources available.

A detailed draft community engagement strategy has been  developed.  This strategy includes items  such as marketing and campaign work. From 1 July, the Active Travel Office is being  re-established from Transport Canberra.

Active travel policy initiatives in the pipeline include a new bicycle  path code as well as parking/end of trip facilities General Code. There will be  more consultation to come on this matter.

New facilities will be implemented at Greenway Park in Lake Tuggeranong  and Lake Ginninderra in Belconnen. The sites have been selected as they are  close to existing car parks and recreation facilities.

The facilities are intended to assist children to learn bike riding  skills, and to encourage riding to and from school.

Construction of both Learn to Ride Centres is due to commence from  September 2016, with the centres planned to open in March 2017.

Further information is available at: http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/open_government/inform/act_government_media_releases/rattenbury/2016/two-new-learn-to-ride-centres-to-help-keep-canberra-kids-active-and-safe

Other initiatives mentioned included input into revised cycle safety  at roundabouts, new driver competency awareness, bike share facilities,  community events and recent visit from Mayor of Wellington. A new fleet of  electric bikes is imminent for the government consisting of 8 bikes in total.

Member’s comments – Damien Haas questioned new bike  training facilities for kids and the lack of detail for this? The question was  taken on notice.

Jeff Ibbotson asked about the planning network role and how this would  be affected with establishment of Transport Canberra. EPD indicated that this  role resides within TAMS. Jeff also asked about the draft community engagement  strategy and associated funding. Anna indicated that funding would be sought  once the strategy has been agreed.

Action – EPD to  seek more information on the new bike training facility adjacent to Lake  Ginninderra.

Development Application  process/consultation

George Cilliers presented to the forum on the development application  and consultation process. George outlined that the focus of his presentation  was based on the merit track process.

Members comments – Damien Haas asked about mediation  process and George indicated that this is an independent process whereby the  mediator in not known until the time of the mediation.

Pat McGinn questioned the definition of an ‘affected party’ and George  stated that this is not defined by the planning and land authority.

Glenys Patulny asked where a pre-lodgement is listed and the response was that this  part of the planning process does not get notified.

Adam Hobill asked about the start date for 120 days during appeal with  the answer being this date is set from the day of application lodgement.

Damien Haas queried DA application versus final approvals where for  example a number of apartments might differ? This would result in non approval  by the certifier.

Mike Reddy asked about staff initiative and how EPD is encouraging  this within the organisation. George pointed out a number of changes that have  taken place in the division including restructure, developing skills, staff  rotation and introduction of the gateway team.

Action – send George Cillier’s presentation to all members.

Plot  ratios

Alix Kaucz presented to the forum on plot ratios  for dwellings.

Member’s  comments – David  Denham outlined that plot ratios are not working in RZ1 zones due to pools,  patios, etc are not included in the GFA. Block is then filled with no room for  permeable land. The permeable part of plot should be defined. The definition  needs to be simpler and would provide better outcomes.

David Denham also stated that larger houses on  smaller blocks are problematic, and asked if this being reviewed by government?  What is the reason behind plot ratio and is this consistent with government  policy?

Damien Haas asked if plot ratio is legislative  based? Alix Kaucz responded that the Territory Plan is a statutory document and  plot ratio is a mandatory rule.

Pat McGinn stated that there needs to be  education about environmental concerns and gardening/landscaping on blocks.  Gary Rake pointed out that government is working on a major project namely the  living infrastructure project to address this.  Pat indicated that this  should be at the householder level and should also educate builders too.

In response to concerns regarding the quality of  construction and responsibility of building certifiers, Michael Hopkins spoke  about the forms being lodged following each stage of construction rather than  in bulk at end when whole development is complete. It is important that each  stage is checked before carrying on with development.

David Denham asked about exempt development and  how certifiers are checked. It was pointed out that documents associated with  this are accessible through the public register. Gary Rake also mentioned that  the recent building act review will lift the level of scrutiny for certifiers.

Leo Dobes indicated that an audit process is  needed. It was noted that there are compliance processes and standards. There  are also designated inspectors appointed by government for multiple  developments.

Action – Alix Kaucz’s presentation to be sent to all members. EPD to send documents  outlined in Plot Ratio presentation and also send calculations/formulas to  members.

Other Business

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday 18  August 2016.

Action Summary Table




David Roulston to provide statistics on use of shared space

Item carried over from April meeting still needing advice.


Catchment Management Strategy - Is there something being done about the chip sealing process that is occurring on roads and the excess chips that are going into the gutters then into the drains? TAMS to provide advice. David Roulston to action.

Information emailed to members on

10 August 2016


New Commissioner, Kate Auty, to present to EPF in near future

EPD secretariat to coordinate for October meeting.


Planning regulations being looked at and how this will affect climate change. MBA will liaise with EPD on this matter and also include Commissioner

MBA to action.


D-Gs report (May to June) to be emailed to forum members.

Report emailed to members on 30 June 2016.


EPD to seek more information on the new bike training facility adjacent to Lake Ginninderra.

Information emailed to members on
10 August 2016


Development Application process/consultation - EPD to email presentation to members

Presentation emailed to members on 30 June 2016.


Plot Ratio – EPD to email presentation to members.

Information emailed to members on
10 August 2016


EPD to send documents outlined in Plot Ratio presentation and also send calculations/formulas to members.

EPF secretariat to email to members shortly.

The ACT Government is committed to improving the accessibility of web content. To provide feedback or request an accessible version of a document please contact us or phone 13 22 81.