Green growth for our city

They say that we can learn from the past, and continue to learn from traditional custodians and their culture, to inform the present as a means of guiding our collective future. So it can be said for the intrinsic qualities underpinning our bush capital. The subtle hand of town planners clearly evident, a beautifully planned city the result.

From its 1909 origins surveyors mapped the contours, the hills, the ridges of a city for the future. These maps then formed the basis from which planners then set about laying out the transport corridors, the town centres, the suburbs for the nation’s capital we see today.

As we cast an eye beyond 2020 a refresh of the ACT Planning Strategy has delivered a vision that continues to provide for growth, supporting strong communities while retaining that bush capital character we all know and love.

With a projected population of half a million by 2030, our commitments to a carbon neutral future, a light rail network and our urban renewal program represent the contemporary foundations upon which we can build upon. We want to protect what’s unique about our city while maintaining the natural feel that Canberrans value, but if we keep growing outwards we will encroach on our highly valued natural environments.

A new planning strategy recognises the need to protect these defining elements; our green space, our diversity of lifestyle choices all set against an incredible bushland backdrop.

To plan for our growth, the strategy highlights that the development of land will focus on the City Centre and town centers, community hubs and dedicated transport corridors. The strategy is setting directions for the future for Canberra as an attractive, livable and competitive city.

A livable city of the future is a place that will harness what nature provides such as clean air and water for our health and wellbeing. Local environment conditions and safety as well as health are all important for the ACT’s livability.

Like any planning conversation the community voice has been a key part of informing this strategy. While it is underpinned by research and evidence, the ideas, the actions that emerged during 13 weeks of community engagement helped drive and informed the future directions.

The community sent a strong message that continued residential sprawl into the bushland is not sustainable, moreover Canberra should have more density within the city, as long as it’s delivered with green spaces, trees and an ongoing respect for our natural environment. This strategy sets out how we’ll create accessible, diverse spaces that connect people and communities with nature.

This work is an important step in the planning process for our beautiful city, providing a foundation for our review of the Territory Plan in 2019.

To glean an insight into the community engagement reports and the 2018 ACT Planning Strategy go online at

Brett McNamara is with ACT Parks & Conservation Service.

Brett Mac

Brett McNamara - Regional Manager with ACT Parks & Conservation Service

Brett loves our national parks almost as much as the Gang-gang on his uniform. He is prone to using the word 'majestic' when referring to the bush capital. He loves talking. A lot. His favourite animal is the playful platypus.

Article also appeared on 18 December 2018 in The Chronicle