Section 6.6 Territory Plan: outdated and incomplete

Considering the Territory Plan is a statutory document and the rule book for development in the ACT, any reasonable person would expect the information contained in it to be correct. Unfortunately, our trust in the Territory Plan is misplaced. The Territory Plan is often outdated and misleading.

A moving target

We can test the accuracy of the Territory Plan by comparing its contents with other documents. In this case, we examine the Structure Plan Molonglo and North Weston,[1] which is like a chapter in the Territory Plan (effective 2017), and conclude that the John Gorton Drive alignment from the Territory Plan is at least seven years out of date. This seems to be long enough to have the error corrected.

[1] ACT Government, Structure Plan Molonglo and North Weston, 25 May 2017, Territory Plan (accessed 22 June 2021)

Molonglo Valley road network

The site for the bridge crossing of the John Gorton Drive over the Molonglo River was moved downstream sometime between 2008-2014. The original crossing point was planned at the eastern corner of the suburb of Molonglo. The bridge site was later moved to the northern corner of the suburb, adjacent to Coppins Crossing.

This new location of the bridge site can be seen on the staging plan from the Molonglo Commercial Centre and Environs Draft Concept Plan, June 2014 (figure 6-9). This document is not part of the Territory Plan.

Figure 6-9 Three development stages in Molonglo Valley and Molonglo commercial centre and environs (shaded), Staging plan. Molonglo Commercial Centre And Environs Draft Concept Plan, June 2014

The Structure Plan Molonglo and North Weston[1] is part of the Territory Plan and shown in figure 6-10. Surprisingly, even though the document was last updated in 2017, the bridge crossing is still shown in the old – and now wrong – location. The location of the bridge is shown below, as indicated by “on-road cycle paths” (red lines), crossing in east Molonglo and then swinging north. The new route alignment for John Gorton Drive is north until Coppins Crossing and then swings east to Coulter Drive.

[1] Ibid.

Indicative truck shared paths 26 May 2017. Structure Plan Molonglo and North Weston, effective 25 May 2017
Figure 6-10 Indicative truck shared paths 26 May 2017. Structure Plan Molonglo and North Weston, effective 25 May 2017. Territory Plan, accessed 22 June 2021.

Backlog of changes

One would think that seven years would be enough time to correct the Territory Plan, but apparently not. To make matters worse, the maps at the Molonglo District Planning Review (June 2021) presented to the residents of the Molonglo Valley were also in error. Clearly, the data sources internally in ACT Planning have yet to be updated.

Although errors in ACT Planning’s internal spatial datasets may be excusable, the Territory Plan is a more stringent case. The Territory Plan has a central function as a statutory document and the existence of long-standing errors is therefore of concern. Such an error is unlikely to be an isolated case and it seems to be reasonable to assume there are others. We cannot expect the uninformed person to know what is correct and what is not. We rely on the document’s accuracy. The Territory Plan should provide absolute clarity in the planning wilderness, but it does not.

Developments will be submitted for the approval only to find that the Territory Plan is in error in some regard. We have heard complaints, that developments are “difficult” in the ACT. Providing the correct information up front would better serve developers. Some corrections to the Territory Plan are long overdue.

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