The Environment and Planning Directorate (the Directorate, EPD) integrates ACT planning with the Government’s environment protection functions, including a strong commitment to address climate change and enhance land and water management. The Directorate was established to:
- plan for Canberra’s future growth to a fully sustainable city and economy
- enable a dedicated and clear focus on meeting the challenges of climate change
- enact the ACT Government’s vision to become the renewable energy capital of Australia.
The Directorate plays a critical role in delivering ACT Government (the Government) priorities, particularly in relation to enhancing liveability, urban renewal, transport, economic growth and diversification. It is committed to delivering a sustainable future by developing and overseeing a range of nation-leading policies and programs to address climate change, stimulate the growth of the green economy, encourage innovation and investment in renewable energy, and protect and conserve our environment and water resources.
The Directorate is responsible for administering and varying the Territory Plan as appropriate and administers the Territory’s development assessment and leasehold systems.
The Directorate is also the custodian of the ACT’s spatial land management systems, as overseen by the Surveyor-General.
The Directorate supports the ACT’s Conservator of Flora and Fauna, Flora and Fauna Committee (known as the Scientific Committee from June 2015), Heritage Council, Climate Change Council, Natural Resource Management Council, Place Names Committee and Land Requests Advisory Committee.
In late 2014 new ACT Government administrative arrangements were issued. The formation of Access Canberra, as a part of the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate (CMTEDD), impacted on the Directorate, with the majority of regulatory functions—including the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Utilities and Land Regulation Inspectors and Occupational Licensing—transferring to Access Canberra. The Directorate’s customer services, including shopfronts and call centre services, were also transitioned to Access Canberra.
The Directorate’s principal role within the ACT is now policy focused, with the greatest focus on improving environmental and planning policy aimed at continuing to build Canberra and the surrounding region to benefit the Canberra community, now and into the future.
Clients and stakeholders
The Directorate’s primary obligation is to serve the ACT Government of the day through the responsible Minister. It does this by providing advice and in giving effect to decisions of the Government.
As the Directorate’s work can have an impact on the daily lives of residents, sectors of the community take a keen—and often passionate—interest in its work and activities. The Directorate seeks to foster stakeholder input through widespread engagement with the community and relevant industry groups.
Clients and stakeholders include:
- ACT Legislative Assembly
- ACT residents
- the development and building industry
- the renewable energy industry
- community-based planning, heritage, natural resource management and environment groups
- ACT, Australian and other state and territory government agencies and councils, including the National Capital Authority (NCA)
- communities and local governments surrounding the ACT
- ministerial and other councils at the local and national level
- statutory and non-statutory committees
- academic institutions
- Icon Water, ActewAGL, the electricity and gas industry, and other utilities
- suppliers and contractors
- the ACT and its environment.
The Directorate updated its corporate plan during the year in consultation with staff. Part of this process included analysing our vision for Canberra.
Our vision: “Sustainable, prosperous, liveable, innovative–Canberra is exciting (SPLICE)”
As part of the Corporate Plan 2015–17, the Directorate adopted the ACT Public Service Code of Conduct, Values, and Signature Behaviours, which include the essential values of respect, integrity, collaboration and innovation. These values are supported by a series of actions that give practical expression to the values and ensure they genuinely reflect the model for the way the Directorate and staff operate.
The Directorate finalised the implementation of revised operational and reporting arrangements that commenced in 2013–14. Many of the new arrangements reflect feedback provided by staff through the Directorate Consultative Committee and internal staff survey. The implemented changes reflect a more open and inclusive Directorate with a more accessible executive team, which has resulted in improved staff engagement and participation. The introduction of the Managers Advisory Group in early 2015 broadened internal consultation around major policies, projects and initiatives.
Some changes to the organisation’s structure have been required by the move of several units to Access Canberra, within CMTEDD, and these will be consolidated in the new financial year.
Diagram 1: The Directorate’s structure as at 30 June 2015
The Corporate Plan 2015–2017 translates the Directorate’s diverse responsibilities into strategic priorities and actions. The plan is guided by the ACT Government’s Performance and Accountability Framework and seeks to integrate the Government’s strategic planning, as articulated in the Canberra Plan–Towards our Second Century and the Chief Minister’s annual ACT Government Priorities, into achievable and measurable outcomes.
The full plan is available on the Directorate’s website. The strategic priorities are:
- Lead the community towards making Canberra a zero net carbon emitter
- Promote sustainable, secure and equitable energy supply
- Secure sustainable water resources
- Protect our environment and promote contemporary, best practice environmental standards
- Deliver spatial planning, urban design and building outcomes that contribute to a sustainable Canberra
- Achieve and maintain effective regulatory systems
- Provide effective community engagement and customer service
- Value our people and strong governance.
Diagram 2 outlines the processes undertaken by the Directorate as a public sector organisation in receipt of Government funding. It reflects the Directorate’s obligation to regularly report on outcomes, activities and expenses in delivering services.
Diagram 3 illustrates the components of the planning and development system of the Territory. The ACT (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (Cwth) establishes how this system operates. It vests responsibility for managing the planning and development of Canberra at a metropolitan level, and in its role as the national capital, to the Commonwealth Government. It vests responsibility for managing Canberra in its role as a capital city—a place where people live, work and play—to the ACT Government.
From an ACT Government perspective, this diagram reflects the whole-of-government approach to planning and urban development from legislation to policy through to regulation and compliance. The collaborative approach to planning, as articulated below, ensures the delivery of community-focused, coordinated planning that increases Canberra’s productivity, efficiency and—ultimately—its liveability.
The ACT Planning Strategy establishes the ‘how, where and what’ of the Territory’s development and growth into the future. One of its key strategies is to create a more compact, efficient city by focusing urban intensification in town centres, around group centres and along major transport routes and balancing where and how greenfield expansion occurs.
Diagram 3: Components of the planning and development system (in relation to activities undertaken under formal planning legislation)
To further inform this growth and development, EPD and the Land Development Agency (LDA), in conjunction with CMTEDD, develop master plans, concept plans and estate development plans to document site-specific planning policies and frameworks for town and group centres, greenfield areas and infill opportunities around the city. The relevant planning controls are then uplifted into the Territory Plan.
The Territory Plan, as developed, managed and reviewed by EPD, is the key statutory planning document and provides the policy framework for the administration of planning in the ACT. The purpose of the Territory Plan is to manage land use change and development in a manner that is consistent with the strategic directions set by the ACT Government, the Legislative Assembly and the community. Variations to the plan are of significant interest to the community and involve extensive consultation and community engagement processes.
The development and construction of the Territory is managed by the development assessment and leasing teams, including granting and issuing of leases and approval of development applications.
The LDA, part of CMTEDD, coordinates the commercial and residential land release programs to continue the growth and development of Canberra. This land development is enabled and facilitated by a program of infrastructure and capital works.
The compliance and regulation of planning and construction is coordinated by Access Canberra, also part of CMTEDD, with utilities technical regulation, and leasing and building investigations managed by the Access Canberra inspectorate.
The Directorate has the following formal decision-making and advisory committees:
|Name||Role of committee||Membership|
Executive Management Board
This peak decision-making body is responsible for significant operational, policy and resourcing decisions and approvals. The Board establishes and reviews the Directorate’s strategic directions and monitors performance in key areas, including financial performance. The Board ensures compliance with laws, regulations, accounting standards and policies.
Executive Policy Committee
The Executive Policy Committee was discontinued during 2014–15. The strategic outlook of the Directorate is now reported through, and considered by, the Managers Advisory Group
Managers Advisory Group
The Managers Advisory Group considers and advises the Director-General on significant and major matters of strategic importance related to the Directorate’s outputs.
Major Projects Review Group
The Major Projects Review Group provides an agency-wide perspective on complex development proposals during the development assessment stage.
The Audit Committee has oversight of risk, compliance, external accountability and the internal control environment on behalf of the Director-General.
Directorate Consultative Committee
The Directorate Consultative Committee aims to promote cooperation, improve communication, encourage greater productivity and job satisfaction and provide input into matters of concern to staff at all levels. The committee operates with formal terms of reference agreed between the Directorate and the unions and under the provisions of the relevant enterprise agreements.
Work Health and Safety (WHS) Committee
The WHS Committee administers the whole-of-government Work Health and Safety Policy within the Directorate. The committee meets quarterly and provides a practical forum for identified Health and Safety Representatives to meet and provide mutual support in WHS projects and activities.
The Green Team is a forum for representatives from all work areas to be involved in achieving the Directorate’s environmental goals and commitments within the work place and in day-to-day work.
Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Working Group
The RAP working group developed and will implement the Directorate’s Reconciliation Action Plan, as well as raising awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) culture. Through this group the Directorate engages and develops a culture of respect and diversity and encourages opportunities for ATSI Australians
Survey Practice Advisory Committee
This committee provides advice to the Surveyor-General about the practice of surveying, guidelines, reviews etc. Non-government members are eligible to claim remuneration for their time on the committee although to date none have chosen to do so. All members are required to agree to the terms of the Modus Operandi which includes conflict of interest and code of ethics.
ACT Place Names Committee
The ACT Place Names Committee is a voluntary (not paid) non-statutory committee appointed by the Minister for Planning for a term of three years. The committee provides advice to the Minister on place naming policy; new division (suburb) names; geographic names; themes to be adopted for naming roads and other public places; various naming submissions and contentious naming issues. The committee meets on an as required basis or at least twice a year and members provide advice on ‘out of session’ on a regular basis. Members sign a code of conduct/conflict of interest form.
Summary of performance
While the full spectrum of Directorate activities and performance can be seen in Section B of this report, the summary below includes significant highlights and indicates the range of activities undertaken during the year.
Driving greenhouse gas reduction targets
Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing the world today. Government, business, community groups, households and individuals all have responsibility to take action. The ACT Government continued to address climate change through the implementation of AP2: The Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan for the ACT.
Progress towards the Government’s mandated emissions target of 90% of its electricity sourced from renewable energy by 2020 continued:
- Following a 40 megawatt (MW) large-scale solar auction in 2012–13, a 20 MW solar farm commenced power generation at Royalla and two others are expected to commence generation in 2016.
- A 200 MW large-scale wind auction was held in 2014–15, with three successful proponents. The successful operators are obliged to contribute to research, education, training and operations for the national wind industry. Electricity generation is expected to start from 2016.
- An expression of interest process was held for 50 MW next-generation solar capacity, including energy storage.
- A Renewable Energy Investment Development Strategy was launched to establish the ACT as an international leader in renewable energy technology and services.
- A new Renewable Energy Innovation Fund was established following the 2014–15 wind auction.
Under the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme, which requires Tier 1 electricity retailers to achieve a targeted level of energy savings in households and businesses, over 244,000 activities were undertaken, abating 159,698.97 tonnes CO2-e. Legislation was proposed to extend the scheme to 2020.
The 2011–12 ACT Greenhouse Gas Inventory, released in September 2014, showed a decrease in total GHG emissions of 2.4% from their respective 2010–11 emission levels. In March 2015 an interim greenhouse gas inventory showed a continuing downward trend in overall emissions (8% between 2011–12 and 2013–14).
The Carbon Neutral Government Framework was launched in August 2014 to help the ACT Government, which contributes 5% of the Territory’s emissions, reach its target of zero net emissions in Government operations by 2020.
Six applications to the Carbon Neutral Government Fund were approved, to a value of $3,541,976, for energy saving projects at directorate offices, community and health centres, libraries and the Canberra Institute of Technology.
Continuing success of sustainability programs
Actsmart programs continued to provide direct engagement between the Government and the community to improve environmental sustainability and empower individuals and organisations to take action to mitigate climate change.
The Actsmart Home Energy Advice service, launched in April 2014, reached 2568 people at 93 workshops and events, took 149 phone/email enquiries and conducted 15 user-pay home assessments.
The Outreach low income energy and water efficiency program, delivered through community welfare organisations, assisted approximately 1840 low income households.
Over 300 energy-efficient refrigerators and freezers were installed to replace old inefficient appliances, over 1150 energy saving kits, heated throw rugs and other energy and water efficient items were provided, over 870 households received in-home energy and water assessments and education, and 312 home energy and water retrofits were made. Twenty four washing machines were replaced as part of a subsidy program for energy and water efficient appliances purchased using the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS).
The Actsmart Business Energy and Water program assessed 115 businesses, with 81 claiming a rebate to upgrade to more efficient fittings or fixtures.
The Actsmart Government Energy and Water Program undertook 44 assessment reports at Government sites, identifying potential annual savings of almost $700,000, 4700 MWh and 3778 t CO2-e.
The ToiletSmart program, available to holders of Pensioner Concession Cards, provided 67 free toilets, 67 free home water audits and 18 water saving showerheads.
The Actsmart Business and Actsmart Office programs continued to provide assistance and accreditation to businesses and offices in the ACT to encourage and support the adoption of efficient waste management and recycling. Of the 695 sites across the ACT, 287 were accredited.
Through the Actsmart Public Event program, over one million patrons had the opportunity to recycle at 43 events, including Floriade and the National Multicultural Festival.
Actsmart Schools gained accreditation as a provider of professional learning through the Teacher Quality Institute (TQI). The program helped deliver the Education and Training Directorate’s Pulse (Smart) Meter Program, which identified leaks/unexplained water use in 44 schools.
Adapting to climate change
The Climate Change Community Engagement Strategy was released in June 2014 and the Directorate continued to implement key aspects of this strategy.
The first detailed climate change projections for the ACT as part of the Territory’s involvement in the NSW and ACT Regional Climate Projections (NARCliM) were released, providing an unparalleled level of detail that will inform and drive actions to reduce the ACT’s vulnerability to climate change.
The Actsmart sustainability web portal, launched in February 2015, provides information to the wider community on climate change. This web site is increasing its following through social media.
Managing and enhancing our water resources
The ACT Water Strategy: Striking the Balance 2014–44 was launched, providing strong foundations for ongoing water management in the ACT over the next 30 years.
The Review of Water Sensitive Urban Design review was released, with eight priority projects to achieve targets and provide maximum flexibility to developers in implementing water sensitive urban design.
Implementation continued of phase one of the ACT Basin Priority Project, which will see up to $85 million of Australian Government and $8.5 million of ACT Government funding for improved water quality in ACT catchments.
The Inner North Reticulation Network was opened, providing up to 500 megalitres of stormwater each year for irrigation and providing aquatic habitat and community recreational benefits as wetlands.
The ACT and Region Waterwatch 2013–14 Report Card—Catchment Health Indicator Program (CHIP) was released, using data collected by volunteers from 63 river reaches across the region.
Development of the ACT Water Resource Plan began for submission to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority.
The ACT and Region Catchment Management Coordination Group was launched to ensure a whole-of-water-catchment focus.
Implementation of Government’s target to reduce per capita consumption of mains water by 25% by 2023 when compared to 2004 average consumption levels continued.
Looking after our environment
Monitoring of threatened species continued, with encouraging results. A significant increase in Murray Cod and a higher abundance of native fish compared to pest species were found at several sites in the Murrumbidgee. Habitat rehabilitation projects have shown habitat improvement.
Monitoring of populations and site management was completed for several threatened species and will be used to help with their conservation. Monitoring of the Brindabella Midge Orchid found the second highest number of individuals since monitoring began. Monitoring of endangered Grassland Earless Dragons indicated the species is recovering from the 2002–2008 drought. Field monitoring of endangered Northern Corroboree Frogs in February 2015 showed some of the captive-bred frogs released to the wild in 2011 have survived to breeding age.
The updated Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby action plan was released and a review commenced of the Lowland Native Grassland Conservation Strategy (Action Plan 28). The Scarlet Robin was declared vulnerable in the ACT.
Kangaroo research included evaluating ecological impacts of grazing by Eastern Grey Kangaroos in lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands and researching the use of a fertility control vaccine for Eastern Grey Kangaroos, including investigating a dart delivery method.
High resolution vegetation mapping has been completed over an area of 73,000 hectares and will continue.
The Nature Conservation Act 2014 was passed by the Legislative Assembly in November 2014 and commenced in June 2015. Implementation of the Nature Conservation Strategy 2013–2023 continued.
The ACT Environmental Offsets Policy commenced in April 2015 through the Planning and Development (Bilateral Agreement) Amendment Act 2014.
A mid-term review of the ACT Weeds Strategy 2009–2019 found significant improvements in weed risk assessment and delivery and reporting of government weed control operations.
The Best Practice Guide for Rabbit Management in the ACT was released to support control efforts by government and other land managers.
Natural resource management
ACT Regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) renegotiated the transition of the Caring for our Country Program to the new National Landcare Program, which will maintain funding levels of $3.805 million (2015–18) and fund partnership with community groups to deliver environmental, sustainable agriculture, and community capacity-building outcomes.
The Ngunnawal Plant Use Book, a field guide that introduces Ngunnawal history and natural resource use, was published in late 2014.
A pilot Aboriginal culture and land management program commenced in the Alexander Machonochie Centre, engaging up to 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees in NRM-related activities.
Work progressed on the review and development of reserve management plans, with priority given to the Canberra Nature Park and Lower Cotter Catchment plans.
The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2014 was passed by the Legislative Assembly and took effect on 12 November 2014.
An initial review of the ACT Noise Zone Standards in local, group and town centres was completed.
A policy was developed and implemented in consultation with the planning and land authority on institutional controls for ongoing site management plans required for contaminated sites.
Draft separation distance guidelines for odour from industrial activities were released for public consultation.
Development proposals under the Lakes Act 1976 included approval of water ski trials on Lake Ginninderra, commercial boat operators, boat training operators and marine repair businesses.
The introduction of Access Canberra in December 2014 resulted in the transition of environmental regulation and compliance to CMTEDD, with policy and legislative review remaining as part of EPD.
Planning our city
Implementation of the City Plan, which was launched in March 2014, commenced. The City Plan sets out a clear vision for the future of the city centre. Implemention commenced with the development of the City and Northbourne Urban Design Framework, which is expected to be completed in the next financial year.
As part of the urban renewal of Canberra, master plans were completed for the Weston group centre and Oaks Estate. Development continued of master plans for the Woden and Belconnen town centres and the Mawson group centre. Master plans were commenced for the Calwell, Curtin and Kippax group centres. Community consultation is an integral part of preparing master plans and occurred at the initial information-gathering stage and at the draft master plan stage.
Planning for the Molonglo Valley continued, including development of a concept plan for the Molonglo commercial centre and environs and investigations required for future planning for Molonglo Valley stage 3.
A structure plan and concept plan were developed to support Territory Plan Draft Variation 351 (West Belconnen), which will support the proposed West Belconnen Riverview development.
Preparation of a strategic assessment for the Eastern Broadacre area continued under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act.
A three year grant to the Heart Foundation (ACT) to fund the Active Living program concluded, with support for this initiative transitioning to the Health portfolio under the Healthy Weight Initiative. The program implemented a suite of research, advice, capacity building and outreach projects and activities to influence work across a number of directorates.
Key policy setting papers included metropolitan spatial planning policy, suburban centres, housing supply and demography, including the distribution and implications of projected residential growth 2014–31.
Economic and demographic research was undertaken to support the Government and included research for resident population and dwelling projections, light rail transit, and the master planning program.
ransport and infrastructure
The initiatives in Transport for Canberra continued to move towards the Government’s 2026 target of 30% of all ‘journey to work’ trips being by walking, cycling and public transport. The Transport for Canberra Report Card was released in 2014 and showed significant progress in all aspects.
A suite of strategies is being prepared as part of the Building an Integrated Transport Network for Canberra. All strategies included community consultation processes. Building an Integrated Transport Network—Active Travel and Building an Integrated Transport Network—Parking were released in May 2015. An updated Parking Fee Determination reflected the Government’s decision to increase the price of public parking annually by 6% following release of the Parking Action Plan as a lever to manage demand for parking.
Development continued on Building an Integrated Transport Network—Freight and Building an Integrated Transport Network—Low Emission Vehicles. The Vehicle Emission Reduction Scheme, introduced in June 2015, outlines how the Government can support the purchase of new fuel efficient vehicles.
The Light Rail Master Plan is investigating and identifying a potential future Canberra light rail network and will detail a plan to build an integrated public transsport system across the city. The study will identify the land use, economic, social and environmental opportunities and constraints possible through light rail, combined with active travel, bus and road connections.
Workshops and studies contributed to the City and Northbourne Urban Design Framework, which will establish the desired future character for the Northbourne Avenue corridor and the city centre, and provide a framework for the delivery of capital works, land release and development and a transport and movement action plan for the city centre.
The Heritage Legislation Amendment Act 2014 was passed in September 2014 and came into effect on 4 October 2014. The Act amended the Heritage Act 2004 in response to the 2010 Heritage Act Review. Work commenced on developing an ACT Heritage Strategy.
The Heritage Council made 27 decisions on provisional registration and 13 decisions on full registration. The assessment of the backlog of nominations to the ACT Heritage Register continued.
ACT Heritage consolidated the popular Canberra Tracks with an augmented reality smartphone app that allows additional video, audio and images to be downloaded at various sites, with a new Canberra Tracks brochure developed.
The annual Canberra and Region Heritage Festival, with the theme Conflict and Compassion to reflect the Centenary of Gallipoli, included over 110 events, activities and exhibitions and involved over 60 groups and individuals from the government, community and private sectors.
The 2014–15 ACT Heritage Grants Program funded 20 projects totalling $285,434 and encompassing natural, indigenous and built heritage projects.
In 2014–15 the Merit Assessment team assessed 1169 merit track development applications and managed 421 exemption declaration applications. Significant proposals assessed during the year included more than 10 proposals for multi-storey residential and/or mixed-use developments.
The Directorate granted an exemption from the requirement to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the University of Canberra public hospital project on the basis that existing studies were already available to address the impacts of the action. A scoping document was prepared for the preparation of the draft EIS for Capital Metro’s Light Rail Stage 1.
Significant approved projects included the Mugga Lane 13 MW Solar Facility, Ikea depot, Symonston Secure Mental Health Facility, stage 1 of a low cost tourist accommodation facility at Gungahlin and estate development applications at Moncrieff, Denman Prospect and Kingston totalling 1700 residences.
The development and implementation of the Planning and Development (Bilateral Agreement) Amendment Act 2014 was facilitated, supporting the implementation of a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals.
The Directorate registered 85 unit title and community title applications, managed deeds for 355 LDA leases and 845 private development leases, approved 215 lease variations, checked 1361 leases and determined 24 concessional leases and 148 lease variations.
The Directorate managed 40 deeds of management, issued 385 consequential leases to private developers (not dwellings) and 416 consequential leases to the LDA (not dwellings).
Eight Territory Plan variations were approved and commenced, four draft variations were recommended to the Minister, one variation was under consideration at year end following public consultation and seven draft variations were released for public comment.
Seventeen technical amendments were made to the Territory Plan.
Surveying and land information
A program to capture high resolution elevation imagery and 3D digital elevation (LIDAR) for the ACT and surrounding region commenced. The data and all derived products will be released for public use under licence.
Funded work was completed on the ACT Road Centreline project, a multi-directorate cooperative project to create a reliable, complete, consistent and accurate road centreline dataset (including tracks and trails) for the Government and ensure its ongoing management and accessibility.
The upgrade of ACTMAPi and cadastral and addressing database continued. The ACTMAPi upgrade will provide an intuitive user-friendly home page along with improved end-user experience on mobile devices, improved performance through load balanced virtual servers and mechanisms for the public to download approved open datasets for a specified region.
The Place Names Committee and unit named 62 new roads, including roads in the new suburbs of Moncrieff and Denman Prospect, and other significant places including parks and bridges.
The Surveyor-General serves on the ACT Electoral Redistribution Committee, which presided over the electorate redistribution from three to five electorates and the new electorate names.
The Directorate will continue to be at the forefront of developing innovation and supporting liveability and prosperity in the Territory through both our environment and planning portfolio responsibilities.
In the planning portfolio, a focus of the Directorate moving forward will be to continue to facilitate a more compact and sustainable city that connects people to the services and facilities they require. Urban renewal will be concentrated around commercial centres and transport corridors while the two major greenfields areas of Gungahlin and Molonglo continue to grow. The Directorate will progress with building an integrated transport network for Canberra through modes such as active travel (walking and cycling), light rail and buses, and continued development of the road network for passengers and freight.
In the coming year, we will continue to deliver city-wide urban land and transport plans and policies that underpin planning for the future urban growth, land supply, major infrastructure for future urban areas, and the character and structure of our city. This work will be underpinned by the Minister for Planning’s Statement of Planning intent which was developed during the year in consultation with the Canberra community
We will continue our master planning program, with master plans for Belconnen, Kippax, Woden, Mawson, Curtin and Calwell commercial centres and Tharwa at various stages of completion. Our master planning program will also continue to identify where infill development could occur in and around town and group centres and along transport corridors and how this development and change can be facilitated.
As Canberra continues to grow, our work on the city’s core planning document, the Territory Plan, will continue to be required, with a focus on supporting housing affordability and accessible communities.
The city is continuing to grow and prosper, and is increasingly acknowledged as a ‘knowledge’ city. The planning system likewise will need to continue to match growing expectations for electronic lodgement and processing of planning applications and other transactions. We will continue to work with industry to enhance the eDevelopment platform, as well as our development of applications for mobile and hand-held devices such as the DA finder App and the Canberra Tracks augmented reality app.
The ACT will continue to participate in, and lead components of, regional planning in partnership with NSW Government agencies. We will also participate in national forums on analysis and development of national transport and infrastructure strategies and policies.
Work in the coming year will include a focus on improving building standards in the ACT by finalising and implementing the Building Act review to improve the building outcomes in the Territory.
Core work of the Directorate to support industry and the broader community includes assessment of development applications, including lease variations, administration of other elements of the leasehold system, maintenance of the Territory’s spatial land information systems and ongoing liaison with the community.
As the city matures, the importance of heritage has become a key issue amongst the community and the Directorate will continue to support the Government and ACT Heritage Council to recognise, protect, conserve and promote the ACT’s heritage places and objects. An important component of recognition is celebration and the Directorate will promote these places and objects through another annual Canberra and Region Heritage Festival in 2016.
The ACT has continued to show enormous leadership through the environmental portfolio in the previous twelve months, with an outlook to continue this leadership as we edge closer to the legislated greenhouse gas reduction targets in 2020.
Following the success of the previous solar auction and first wind auction, the ACT plans to unveil projects through the second wind auction that will carry the ‘heavy lifting’ of the ACT Government’s agenda of 90% renewable energy by 2020. By 2017 approximately 60% of the Territory’s energy will come from renewable sources. The Directorate will assist industry to implement the Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Scheme, which will largely offset the cost of renewable energy through efficiency improvements in the home.
Work will continue on the implementation of the Government’s climate change strategy, AP2, including carbon neutrality in the Government’s operations and service delivery by 2020. AP2 will be reviewed.
In the natural environment, there will continue to be a strong emphasis on improving water quality in our local waterways, through improved catchment management and governance arrangements and implementing the Commonwealth’s $85 million in funding for the Murray–Darling Basin Priority Project. The Directorate will also focus on implementing the ACT’s Water Strategy, Striking the Balance.
Our local ecologists will continue to undertake research and implement plans and strategies to protect and conserve our iconic parts,threatened species and ecological communities, including orchids found only in the ACT, the Corroboree Frog, the LIttle Eagle, Grassland Earless Dragon and Northern Yellow–Box Red–Gum Woodlands.
As the city grows, it is vital that we maintain the integrity of our natural systems. This will be supported by the National Landcare Program and balance urban development and environmental conservation through one-stop-shop reforms and offsets policy.
The Environment and Planning Directorate will continue to work with colleagues across Government, and with industry and the community to deliver a more sustainable, prosperous, liveable, innovative and exciting Canberra—area city that aspires to be “the coolest little capital in the world”.