CSIRO locks in affordable housing plans for field station site
Published on 24 April in the Canberra Times. Written by Tom McIlroy.
The CSIRO will explore innovative technology, finance and governance models to effectively incorporate affordable housing options into the planned redevelopment of its Ginninderra Field Station.
About 30 experts from universities, social service groups, charities, and banks joined a think tank event on affordable housing options for the 700-hectare site earlier this month, advising the research organisation to use technology to reduce the cost of living on the site and to incorporate place-making and a master plan to manage affordable housing.
The planning comes as the CSIRO waits for federal government approvals on required zoning changes. Once approved, a consortium or joint-development partner will be engaged for the redevelopment project.
Established in 1960, the field station replaced a research site near the Dickson shops. The area has been home to the development of a range of projects including novel grains and agricultural systems. The field station sits on the ACT-NSW border, framed by the Barton Highway, William Slim Drive, Owen Dixon Drive and Kuringa Drive.
Some residents near the field station oppose changing the land’s zoning classification from hills, ridges and buffer spaces to urban area.
Design of houses and public spaces was raised by participants, as well as incorporation of CSIRO research outcomes.
Planners could consider allocating blocks of land and specific areas of the site as designated affordable housing supply, with the cost in part covered by higher value sales in other areas. Ballots or other allocation methods will be considered.
A community information session is planned in coming months to give local residents and other stakeholders with the chance to receive an update on the project and to suggest ideas and ask questions.
Think Tank generates ideas for affordable housing
Our Affordable Housing Think Tank on 8 April 2016 was a success – bringing out a wealth of ideas from an impressive gathering of industry, government, research and community experts.
The objective of the Think Tank was to generate shared understanding of the issues and to identify bold and innovative ideas for the delivery of affordable housing locally, and it did!
A range of ideas were discussed and broad agreement reached, that to deliver affordable housing that best meets the diversity of societal needs, the Ginninderra project should:
- Explore innovative finance and governance models
- Adopt and promote innovative sustainability technologies that also improve affordability by reducing the cost of living
- Commit to ‘place-making’ and to trialing and assessing a variety of approaches to the provision of affordable housing within the site
- Identify approaches to community consultation and engagement that will support the project aims and involve low and moderate income earners
- Develop a plan for the site that articulates a clear vision and aspirations
Thirty experts from the housing sector, ACT and federal government agencies, community organisations and CSIRO research teams took part in the Think Tank that will help inform a strategy for affordable housing in the Ginninderra project.
Think Tank participants suggested that planning and design should aim to ensure the site provides diverse housing types, meets the needs of diverse households, and in particular provides housing that is affordable to people and households across all income levels. Ideas supporting such multi-level affordable housing included:
- Considering the specific needs of particular cohorts identified as requiring affordable housing
- Providing a mix of higher and lower density housing on the site
- Providing a mix not only of different tenure types, household types and housing types, but also diverse funding mechanisms and governance structures to meet the needs of a differentiated market and to encourage diversity in the site
- Considering options to cross-subsidise affordable housing within the development
- Designing housing for the life course, so that homes can readily respond to changing household needs and composition
- Investigating investment sources including social impact bonds and superannuation
- Exploring ways of ensuring that housing remains affordable into the future
These ideas and those generated through further research and community engagement will be tested and evaluated to inform a living strategy document that guides CSIRO’s approach to affordable housing as a key element to the overall development of the site.
CSIRO is aspiring to an overall design that embraces the ideas of the community and considers energy, water, emissions, waste, economic activity, health and wellbeing, and the environment – as well as integrating affordable housing.
CSIRO remains committed to working with stakeholders to push the frontiers of sustainable and affordable urban design.
The future of stormwater at Ginninderra
The population of the ACT is projected to grow to half a million people by 2033.
With this urban growth and the changing climate we can expect an increased demand for water and the generation of more stormwater and sewage.
CSIRO is committed to sustainable urban water management and undertaking research that will help reduce the demand for potable water supply in our cities. This includes research on various aspects of reducing water use and making better use of available rainfall, stored and potable water and waste water streams.
“Urban stormwater is a relatively untapped resource that could help Canberra meet its future water supply requirements,” said CSIRO Researcher Dr Declan Page
CSIRO examined the feasibility of a range of stormwater harvesting and irrigation options in Canberra during 2007 to 2009, working with the ACT and Commonwealth Government’s on Phase 1 of the Canberra Integrated Urban Waterways Project.
In addition to reducing demand for potable water, stormwater harvesting has the potential to provide stormwater quality improvements, flood mitigation, urban habitat outcomes, and has the potential to improve the aesthetics and the recreation value of urban parks.
The stormwater harvesting options that were considered included; use of existing lakes and ponds, the construction of new ponds, through to options that involved combining stormwater with water stored in aquifers or with reclaimed water.
This CSIRO research was used by the ACT Government to support the feasibility through to detailed design and construction of three pilot stormwater harvesting and reticulation projects, namely Inner North Canberra, Weston Creek and Tuggeranong.
The Inner North Stormwater Reticulation Network in the Sullivan’s Creek Catchment is Canberra’s first neighbourhood-scale stormwater harvesting and managed aquifer recharge system. Urban stormwater is captured and treated in constructed wetlands and then pumped though a reticulation network for irrigation of urban green spaces.
The ACT Government is currently trialling managed aquifer recharge as part of this Inner North scheme, which involves the injection of stormwater into a bore, where it is stored in underground aquifers and retrieved when required during peak irrigation.
CSIRO has considerable expertise in this innovative urban water technology, having recently completed a large study on Managed Aquifer Recharge and Stormwater Use Options (MARSUO) commissioned by the Goyder Institute for Water Research.
The aim of the study was to provide water managers and the community with the data needed to make informed decisions on stormwater harvesting and storage.
“Stormwater could be treated to a drinking water quality and not just used for open space, third pipe or industrial uses. The costs of doing this, however, are similar to the costs of conventional potable water supply,” said co-author of the study Dr Page
“Nonetheless, the MARSUO study shows that water quality/safety issues can be effectively managed in line with the National Water Quality Management Strategy”.
It is early days to consider stormwater options in the Ginninderra project, as we await the outcome of the land reclassification decision under Draft Amendment 86 of the National Capital Plan, which is required to consider the potential future urban development of the site.
Having said that, Ginninderra Creek and Halls Creek and their associated riparian areas are significant features of the Ginninderra site and the broader landscape.
“Ensuring the retention of adequate space for stormwater capture and treatment, providing green corridors along water courses, and implementing water sensitive urban design throughout the site, is all of paramount importance”, said Dr Page.
CSIRO researchers are currently investigating the water resource potential at the Ginninderra site and the types of stormwater use options. As noted in a previous update, one of these future uses will likely include the provision of water to support the cooling benefits of healthy vegetation to combat the Urban Heat Island effect.
As the project progresses, CSIRO looks forward to interacting with key stakeholders such as the ACT Government, Icon Water, and Ginninderra Catchment Group, as well as neighbouring communities and businesses, to discuss stormwater options.