Categories
urban planning

What is wrong with Molonglo 3 East

A case study for Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study Project Brief and urban planning of new estates in the ACT.

The ACT Government announced in the 2012 ACT Planning Strategy that it “sought to create a more compact, efficient and inclusive city” The proximity between new suburbs in Molonglo Valley and the city will help encourage commuting to work with a bike and the achievement of goals of the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25, but the potential benefit of the proximity of the Molonglo Valley will be largely forfeited without good quality, safe and direct active travel infrastructure. This is currently NOT typical for the Molonglo Valley estate developments.

This ACT Government held an Active Travel Design workshop (12 December 2018) and stated that the background to the new Active Travel Design Guidelines included “poor infrastructure outcomes as a consequence of planning intent getting ‘lost in translation’. My concern is that the failure to systematically integrate active travel principles in the planning process will most likely result in the missed potential to develop active travel facilities in the Whitlam and other new estate developments in Canberra. As human behaviour follows infrastructure, this lack of future-proofing active travel facilities is detrimental to achieving an increase in active travel in the ACT.

Molonglo 3 East Planning and Infrastructure Study Project Brief design tender (2 December 2019), released by the Major Projects Canberra Infrastructure Delivery Partner Group, is for the first stage design of Molonglo 3 East, but not for Whitlam. It is worth monitoring it as it signals the first planning stage of these new, yet unnamed, suburbs has begun. To quote the brief, the ACT’s Indicative Land Release Program 2019-20 to 2022-23, “proposes 200 blocks be released in the study area by 2022-23.”

Categories
urban planning

Greenfield developments and active travel

It is unrealistic to expect the ACT Government to fund all active travel infrastructure from general revenue as capital works. It cannot be done. Alone the maintenance to a high standard an ever-expanding bike paths network is a challenge.

The sale of land for dwellings will always be a top priority for the ACT Government due to the expected population growth and ever-growing costs of servicing the existing Canberra population. The ACT budget is spent on the services that are regarded by most Canberrans as essential (health, education, etc).

We are proud of Canberra, our bush capital. The environmental regulations will continue to be front-of-mind for estate planners to protected and preserve these environmental assets. The downside is that it comes at a price. There are many places in Canberra where you will not get approval to build a bike path.

Land sales are revenue, so the ACT will prioritise that over finishing suburbs (and bike paths). The land release will remain staged. This type of estate planning is within a bounded area and the bigger picture outside those boundaries, such as cross city cycle highways, are left off the map.

We will need to accept that without capital funding, the active travel infrastructure will never be built all at once, but in a fragmented way.

Riding to work requires cycle highway networks that span the city. With the above constraints, it is achievable but not quick or easy. Without long term planning and enduring effort, it will never be achieved.