Project update – September
Our focus this month was on community engagement, with two neighbourhood drop-in sessions held in Evatt and Gold Creek.
The purpose of these sessions was to seek targeted feedback and ideas about elements that were identified as important by the community in the first phase of engagement in September 2015.
These included housing, conservation, roads and transport, and community facilities.
Additional feedback at the August sessions covered topics including the community engagement process, the impact of future development on residents of surrounding suburbs, and CSIRO’s role in relation to planning.
Engagement by the community in these sessions was both strong and constructive, providing a wealth of ideas for further consideration in the planning process.
The sessions also confirmed the importance to the community of:
- Maintenance of a natural environment with green open spaces
- Linking the new area and existing suburbs and key natural features
- Attractive housing with a mix of block sizes, suited to the needs of people across a range of demographics
- Sustainable living embedded in the housing and other facilities
- A good range of community facilities and services within the development
- Improved traffic arrangements
Residents were also able to view the 701-hectare CSIRO property as captured from a series of locations using both 4k and 360 degree cameras mounted underneath a remotely piloted drone. The drone aerial survey led by a team from CSIRO Land and Water and Data61 has produced a visual record and basis for further planning and modelling of development and conservation at the site.
The latest drop-in sessions follow five years of preparation and investigation that led to the approval (in May 2016) for CSIRO’s Ginninderra Field Station to be classified as ‘Urban’ under Amendment 86 to the National Capital Plan.
As with all of our engagement with the community, we are committed to taking on board the comments received in future planning and design processes.
Feedback received from these sessions will be included in the briefing materials for the Request for Tender process to ensure that potential future development partners are mindful of the community’s expectations.
If you were unable to make it to the sessions, or have further comments or questions, we invite you to complete our community feedback form.
Planning for the future
Retaining green spaces and corridors and protecting Ginninderra’s ecology has already been raised by many community members during the consultations so far.
As part of the process, we are conducting environmental studies to fully understand the Ginninderra landscape and ecology. At 701 hectares, it is a large piece of land with variations across the site. While studies are still ongoing, environment and conservation are a key consideration for the site.
Based on studies so far, approximately 150 hectares of the land is unlikely to be developable due to its topography, heritage and ecological values, and will likely remain open space.
This will provide valuable recreational and conservation areas, as well as preserve some of the views of the hills and ridges currently experienced by adjoining suburbs. These open spaces will also allow for wildlife to continue traversing the property.
Alongside the farmland on the site is a diverse ecology, including protected species such as the golden sun moth and box gum woodlands along with many other plant and animal species.
A program for ongoing management to support critical ecosystem services, biodiversity, and cultural values will be developed. With the support and research of CSIRO scientists, the approach to conservation management will take into account multiple factors, as part of an overall avoidance, mitigation and offset strategy. This will include measures to restore and support conserved areas.
Offsetting measures, if required, would seek to establish compensatory areas as close to the location of the impact as possible and would follow the established Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 offset policy.
The project team working on the biodiversity assessment aspect of the project were responsible for preparation of the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment and are also presently working with the Riverview Group and ACT Government (LDA) in preparation of the West Belconnen Strategic Assessment.
The team has a detailed appreciation of the broader opportunities and constraints in the wider area, providing consistency between these connected parts of the landscape.
The Ginninderra site is an important part of Canberra and we look forward to working with local residents, conservation and community groups on the future of this land.
If you have any questions or suggestions on the environmental management of Ginninderra, please contact us.
Community feedback and September drop-in sessions
During September we held three drop-in and information sessions in Evatt, Gold Creek and Charnwood to listen to your comments and answer your questions about the future of the Ginninderra Field Station.
The focus was discussing the CSIRO proposal with residents living in the suburbs surrounding the Ginninderra Field Station: Fraser, Evatt, Spence, McKellar, Giralang, Crace, Nicholls and Hall.
It was fantastic to see so many people who wanted to find out more about the Ginninderra site and speak to the project team. A total of 224 people came along, which shows the high level of interest from the community.
In addition to attendance at events, we have also received over 60 written comments and questions via comment forms and email.
It’s important for us to understand community views in order to make the right decisions for the site in the future.
Thank you for coming along, asking questions, and for your understanding in relation to questions we don’t have the answers to yet.
From the feedback we’ve received so far, a number of clear themes have emerged. These themes include:
- Interest in maintaining the environmental value of the site, including retaining green spaces and corridors and continued protection of protected or endangered species
- The inclusion of community facilities and open spaces in any future development
- That any future development should be sustainable and well-planned, and consider large block sizes
- The need for additional services, for example schools, shops, sports facilities and medical services
- Consideration of traffic and road infrastructure, noting current safety and congestion issues on the roads bordering the Ginninderra Field Station
- CSIRO’s ongoing involvement in the future development of the site
In addition to the drop-in sessions held in September, we’ve also spoken to local groups such as community councils, environmental associations, industry bodies, welfare and social service organisations, and businesses. These discussions will be ongoing and if you are part of a local group that would like to meet with us, please let us know via the contact page.
The comments and feedback we have received so far will be de-identified and passed on to the National Capital Authority (NCA) as part of their consultation phase on the reclassified use of this land.
The NCA consultation process started on 1 October 2015 and runs until 13 November 2015. You can find out more about leaving feedback or attending an event on the NCA website.
While we welcome your comments at any time via the contact page, we won’t be holding any CSIRO drop-in sessions during the NCA consultation process.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring some of the key themes in more detail in the News section of this website, so check back each week for updates.
Don’t forget if you’d like updates straight to your inbox you can subscribe to our monthly email updates.
We look forward to continuing the conversation about the future of the Ginninderra Field Station.
Canberra’s hidden reserve
The Ginninderra Field Station was established in 1958 as a site for agricultural research in anticipation of the closure of the Dickson Experiment Station to make way for urban development in that area, which eventually occurred in 1962.
The Ginninderra site is located in the northern area of ACT, surrounded by the suburbs of Gungahlin, Hall and Nicholls to the north, Giralang to the east, and Evatt, Spence and Fraser to the south.
While nearby residents know more, it’s an area many people have driven past every day and never realised what lay within.
Behind the unassuming ridges and rows of vegetation lies 701 hectares of grassy open space with 80 hectares of irrigated, arable land. The quality soil and water availability on the site has provided excellent opportunities to support CSIRO’s agricultural research effort.
There are three houses, a machinery shed, a workshop, a barn, shearing sheds and some scientific equipment and approximately 5,000 sheep on the property.
Australia is famous for its beautiful natural environment which is reflected throughout the site. A mixture of native grasses, Scribbly Gum woodland, Box-Gum woodland, Eucalypts and pines create the greenscape of the site.
A natural drainage system, Halls Creek, separates the upper and lower areas of the site. Surrounded by ridges and hills there are amazing views across to Belconnen Town Centre, Telstra Tower and the Brindabella’s from the highest points of the site.
Canberra is known for its ability to incorporate green spaces into the city. The future of the site will embody this, retaining green spaces, open reserves, and natural vegetation. Sitting within the north-eastern end of site lie two very special trees, Canberra’s oldest oaks. This unique part of the landscape will be preserved throughout the development.
The site is also home to native, endangered species including the Golden Sun Moth and Box-Gum woodland. Protecting the plants and creatures that call the Ginninderra lands home is integral to this project. Opportunities to improve the quality of woodlands and create natural reserves will arise throughout the course of the project.
A number of Aboriginal heritage locations have been identified on the site. When European settlement took place in the area homesteads were set up near the Ginninderra property. Nearby heritage listed sites include the Charnwood Homestead, the Palmerville (Ginninderra) Homestead and the Ginninderra Police Station. These sites are all important in better understanding Canberra’s early history and will be respected throughout the project.
Canberra CBD to Ginninderra Field Station [PDF, 4MB]
Draft Concept Plan [PDF, 1MB]