When we walk the halls of Planning, Transport and Legislative Assembly in the ACT today, we can be sure that none of those people we see will be there in 30 years. Community groups and councils lobby with MLAs and mandarins, who temporarily fill the roles. Building a cycle network is a long term task, requiring forward-thinking past the current political cycle. The cycle network will take 30 years to build. In that time, Canberra’s population will almost double. City builders think in decades and not years. Cycle corridors reserve the space to build that cycle network.
The topography of Molonglo 3 East demands a reframing of the way planning is done in the ACT. Best practices that apply to the Molonglo valley are not support by the Estate Development Code, Single and Multi-Unit Housing Development Codes and the zoning codes in the Territory Plan. Molonglo 3 East is something new and exciting that will push ACT planing towards an outcomes planning mechanism.
The general desired to encourage people to cycle to work is hampered by the lack of end-of-trip facilities. End-of-trip facilities is more than bike parking, but rather a package of infrastructure that make the workplace attractive for cycling. That end-of-trip facilities will not be built or added to a commercial building unless mandated. With this in mind, the ACT Government has introduced Territory Plan Variation 357.
Cycle corridors are the mechanism by which strategic assets (public realm space) can be secured for good, fast cycling infrastructure between town centres for commuting cyclists, thus providing an alternative to driving. The cycle highways will not be finished quickly and they do not have to be. However, they will never be built unless the corridors are reserved and preserved.
The Territory Plan is part of the reason why good, fast cycling infrastructure between town centres for commuting cyclists – cycle highways – has not been and is not likely to be built. The ACT planning has been critiqued for hampering innovation. The comment, while likely directed at urban architecture, is still true for urban planning and design. Cycle highways are not possible without inclusion in statutory documents, such as the Territory Plan.
The complaints about the poor outcomes from the ACT Planning system have been discussed throughout the last legislative term, but without reform. Today, Planning Minister, Mick Gentleman, announced that the planning legislation will be rewritten.
The ACT Territory Plan is a mystery for most. Here is a short explanation of what is found in Territory Plan.
For a few years now, the ACT strategies have promoted a Movement and Place Framework. The idea, best shown in pictures, is difficult to put into practice, as it presumes the ACT Planning and Transport directorates work together.
Considering the Territory Plan is a statutory document and the rule book for development in the ACT, one would expect the information contained in it is correct. Unfortunately, our trust in the Territory Plan is misplaced. The Territory Plan is often outdated and misleading.
The cycle network can only be built, if we reserve and preserve cycle corridors. How this is done, was demonstrated by the light rail project and requires changes to the Territory Plan and Planning Act. The ACT Government could copy this approach for cycle corridors.