Forging new partnerships as we rediscover Ginninderra’s past
The rich history of Hall and district, and the areas once known as Ginninderra and Palmerville, have been a focus of ongoing conversation and discovery for the Hall community and its Progress Association. Now it’s a focus for CSIRO too.
As CSIRO’s Ginninderra property includes parts of the old Palmerville estate and borders on the former Ginninderra village, centred around Gold Creek, we have been keen to learn more about this history and understand how a new development might be able to connect with, and complement, this heritage.
Similarly, the Hall and District Progress Association has been keen to learn about, and have input, into the proposed Ginninderra development, and this has led to a series of positive meetings. CSIRO representatives attended the November meeting of the Progress Association, and the Association has used its own website to encourage Hall locals to keep in touch with the Ginninderra Project.
“We have appreciated the willingness of CSIRO to talk openly with us about the project and we will invite them back to provide regular updates,” said Gavin Mansfield, President of the Association.
Traffic, sustainability, plans for the area north of Kuringa Drive and water quality issues around Halls Creek have been some of the key topics covered in conversations.
Prior to European settlement, the area was known as Ginin-ginin-derry and was home to Aborigines for many thousands of years. While the first European settlement in the area – the Palmerville settlement – is located on or close to the boundary of the CSIRO property, only a precious few physical features remain.
From the 1850s, the Ginninderra village developed along the Queanbeyan-Yass road and included in its heyday a church, two schools, store, police station, post and telegraph office, School of Arts, boot maker, nursery, Farmers Union hall, annual show, sports teams and a hotel.
The farmlands surrounding the village developed an outstanding agricultural reputation growing grain for the goldfields of Araluen and Majors Creek and then wool for the Sydney markets. In the early 20th century, Ginninderra produced high quality merino wool and Henry Curran of Deasland (the homestead is just across the Barton Highway from where the front gates of CSIRO Ginninderra are today) achieved a world record price at auction.
But when Ginninderra and other NSW lands were resumed in 1915 to create the Federal Capital Territory, the influence of Ginninderra was already fading.
Through the ACT Heritage Grants Program, the story of Ginninderra can now be explored online on the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre website.
‘Rediscovering Ginninderra’ was the title of an exhibition staged by the Centre for the 2016 Canberra and District Heritage Festival in April 2016.
The material from this exhibition has been made accessible via an online searchable database and the interactive format allows users to explore prominent people and places through photos, documents and references to publications.
Honorary curator Phil Robson said, “This exhibition is informed by the prodigious research and writing of leading Canberra historian Lyall Gillespie, whose collection we now hold. There will be further displays on Ginninderra to come. Meanwhile we hope that recent arrivals to the ACT, descendants of settler families, and everyone else curious about what was here before Canberra will take the opportunity to rediscover Ginninderra.”
The online database is a compilation of Lyall Gillespie’s collections of Canberra’s historical materials and provides links to a wide range of other resources relating to the history and heritage of Ginninderra.
All photos supplied by, and published with the permission of, the Hall School Museum – Gillespie Collection.
Project update – July
Over the past month the project team has been continuing to engage with a range of conservation groups regarding the ecological and heritage values of the site. This included a half-day workshop on 27 June with several member groups of the Conservation Council, including representatives from Friends of Grasslands, Ginninderra Catchment Group, Mt Rogers Landcare Group, the Canberra Ornithological Group, as well as the Biodiversity Working Group within the Conservation Council.
The workshop was a follow-up to a site visit of the Ginninderra property that was conducted in early June, and provided an opportunity for the Ginninderra Project Team to discuss and seek feedback on the principles for conservation and development that will inform subsequent stages of the project.
This month, we have also made plans to continue our conversation with the broader community about the Ginninderra Project. As part of our ongoing engagement activities we will be holding neighbourhood drop-in sessions in Evatt and Gold Creek to provide community members with an opportunity to receive an update on the project and to ask any questions about plans for the site.
Session 1 – Evatt
Date: Thursday 25 August 2016
Time: 3:00pm to 6:30pm
Venue: Evatt Scout Hall
Address: Heydon Crescent, Evatt
Session 2 – Gold Creek (Nicholls)
Date: Saturday 27 August 2016
Time: 12:00pm to 4:00pm
Venue: The Abbey
Address: Gold Creek Village, Nicholls
At these events, you will be able to talk with our project team and contribute your ideas, helping to shape our vision for the property and the principles that will guide sustainable urban development.
There will also be the chance to provide general feedback about the project. If you can’t attend either session, but still want to provide feedback, please complete the online enquiry contact form.
In preparation for these upcoming drop-in sessions in August 2016, we are pleased to share a report on the initial community consultation that CSIRO undertook last year. The report outlines CSIRO’s approach to community consultation and the main issues and questions that the community raised.
The drop-in sessions scheduled for August 2016, are the next key opportunity for community input.
Exploring Ginninderra’s past, present and future
After more than half a century of dedicated scientific research, CSIRO’s Ginninderra Field Station is entering a new phase. Planning and engagement has commenced to deliver a new benchmark in liveable, sustainable and resilient urban development.
The Ginninderra Field Station was established in 1958 as a site for plant and agricultural research. This was in anticipation of the closure of the Dickson Experiment Station to make way for urban development in that area, which eventually occurred in 1962.
As with the Dickson site, the Ginninderra Field Station has now been surrounded by urban development and is no longer optimal for CSIRO’s agricultural research. In 2011 CSIRO started considering options for Ginninderra’s future use.
Rather than simply sell the property, CSIRO saw Ginninderra as a great opportunity to bring its research together to make a difference, not only for local residents and the ACT, but for other Australian cities, people, industry and the environment.
The sustainable urban development of Ginninderra presents an opportunity for positive social, environmental and economic impact for the ACT and Australia, while generating revenue for the reinvestment into CSIRO innovation and research infrastructure.
In December 2012, CSIRO sought advice from the National Capital Authority about the correct process for seeking an amendment to the National Capital Plan. Through this, a long-term vision to deliver a new benchmark in sustainable urban development has arisen.
It’s a vision that has emerged through engagement with CSIRO’s science capability, undertaking environmental and heritage investigations, and initial conversations with the community, and one that will continue to evolve and bring lasting benefits.
CSIRO staff first met with ACT Government officials in July 2014 and have met regularly since then to discuss the possibilities for the potential development of the Ginninderra Field Station for urban use.
These meetings confirmed that the site presented an opportunity for greenfield development, which has been supported by the NCA’s response to the key issues considered as part of Amendment 86: ‘The CSIRO Ginninderra site presents an opportunity for greenfield development that can make use of existing infrastructure and services, and provides a more suitable alternative to cater for the growth of the city than other greenfield sites.’
CSIRO’s engagement with community groups, nearby residents and industry associations began in August 2015, coinciding with the land’s inclusion as part of Amendment 86.
This first round of engagement with the local community in September 2015 included three drop-in sessions at Gold Creek, Evatt and Charnwood and involved more than 220 people. This is only the beginning, as CSIRO aims to involve more of these people and groups in the conversation about how we can design and work together for a liveable, sustainable and resilient urban area.
On 5 May 2016, classification of the Ginninderra Field Station to ‘Urban’ as part of the National Capital Plan was approved. This decision paved the way for CSIRO to seek Expressions of Interest (EOI) for a suitable development partner.
Following the closing of the EOI on May 23, CSIRO is evaluating and shortlisting suitably qualified developers, ahead of a Request for Proposal process later in the year.
CSIRO is excited about the opportunity to continue to work with the community, government, research partners, and other stakeholders, to create something unique at Ginninderra.
CSIRO is also committed to continuing the discussions with ACT Government agencies to harmonise with future planning goals and aspirations.
Future steps for the Ginninderra project include a site visit with conservation groups and workshop in June, community forum in July, additional community meetings in early 2017, as well as planning, approvals and detailed design in 2018. The earliest that any development could commence on the site is in 2019.
Since we provided our last project update in April, there have been a number of significant events that have allowed the Ginninderra Project to progress.
National Capital Plan Amendment 86 Approval
On Thursday 5 May Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government, Paul Fletcher approved Amendment 86 to the National Capital Plan.
The decision to classify the current Ginninderra Field Station to ‘Urban’ as part of the approved changes to the National Capital Plan is the next step towards an initiative that will be incredibly significant for the ACT community and for reinvestment into Australian science and innovation infrastructure.
Since we sought initial feedback from the NCA about the possibility of an amendment in December 2012, we have undertaken three and a half years of due diligence on the 701 hectare site, along with a range of environmental and heritage studies.
We are very excited about the potential of continuing to work with the community, government, research partners, and other stakeholders, including conservation, heritage and advocacy groups, to create something unique and remarkable at Ginninderra.
Expressions of Interest
Following the decision regarding Amendment 86, we have commenced an expressions of interest process, where we have asked for responses from suitably qualified development partners to work with us to deliver a new benchmark in sustainable urban development at Ginninderra.
We look forward to receiving Expressions of Interest from potential industry partners who share our aspirations and vision for the site.
Through a process of science, community and stakeholder engagement, a vision is emerging for sustainable urban development at the Ginninderra Field Station that sets new standards in the way that it handles energy, water, waste, housing design and affordability, transport, community connection heritage and environmental protection.
CSIRO is seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified development partners for the planning, development and subsequent sales of its land located at Ginninderra in the Australian Capital Territory.
Based on due diligence reports and the identified values at Ginninderra, CSIRO’s initial assessment of the development potential of the site, which has been compiled in collaboration with specialist scientists and stakeholders, identifies:
· developable land (360.8 ha, or 51% of total area),
· potential developable areas under CSIRO review (129.4 ha, 18%),
· areas primarily protected by current legislation (130.9 ha, 19%), and
· additional areas CSIRO has determined should be managed to further protect the ecological and heritage values of the site (80.5 ha, 12%).
This initial assessment is only indicative of the development potential and may be subject to change.
The request for the expression of interest is the first stage of a possible two stage process.
Expressions of Interest are now open and will close at 2pm on 23 May 2016 with all relevant information available on AusTender.
Heritage studies in focus
There has been a lot of interest in the heritage studies that CSIRO has carried out before and since it requested the NCA land classification amendment of the Ginninderra Field Station.
CSIRO engaged specialist consultants in late 2013 to undertake several heritage studies in relation to its Ginninderra Field Station. The two key heritage reports that have been undertaken to date are:
- Stage 1 Heritage Assessment (reporting finalised 2014); and
- Stage 2 Heritage Management Plan (currently in progress).
A brief overview of each of these heritage reports is provided below.
Stage 1 Heritage Assessment
The Stage 1 Heritage Assessment (HA) assessed the study area containing Aboriginal heritage values that meet the threshold for nomination to the Commonwealth Heritage List (CHL). The northern portion of the study area, CSIRO Block 1609, is included on the ACT Heritage Register as it contains several Aboriginal heritage sites.
A recommendation of the Stage 1 Heritage Assessment report included to prepare a Heritage Management Plan (HMP) for the site (see Stage 2).
Stage 2 Heritage Management Plan
A draft Stage 2 Heritage Management Plan (HMP) was prepared in early 2015 based on the site’s use as a Field Station.
As the option for future development of the land became a possibility, CSIRO decided to update the Stage 2 HMP to address the potential change of land use to urban. This change in land use also involved further seasonal ecological surveys and a Stage 2 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA).
As part of the Stage 2 HMP, consultation with the four Representative Aboriginal Organisations (RAOs) was undertaken.
The consultation was undertaken as part of an additional field survey in October 2014, to re-assess and record the true geographic location of previously identified Aboriginal heritage sites.
The final draft of the Stage 2 HMP, was completed in November 2015. The HMP was reviewed by CSIRO and is currently awaiting the findings of the summer ecological surveys and Stage 2 ESA for incorporation.
The ecology and ESA reports are due in the first quarter of 2016. Once updated to reflect these additional studies, the Stage 2 HMP report will then be reviewed by CSIRO and comments will be incorporated into the final Stage 2 HMP.
The Stage 2 HMP report will then be circulated to the RAOs for their review and comment and once attained, CSIRO will undertake final sign off on the report.
This is consistent with CSIRO’s Indigenous Engagement Strategy, which outlines an ethics framework for demonstrating understanding and empathy of indigenous issues and values. It is therefore not appropriate for CSIRO to make this report available until we have the consent of the RAOs.
In addition to the two main heritage reports, the Stage 1 Heritage Assessment and the Stage 2 HMP, a specific Environmental Site Assessment Heritage Management Plan was also developed to assist with the Stage 2 Environment Site Assessment subsurface works.
CSIRO voluntarily appointed a site auditor for the ESA works. This appointment extended the time required to develop the Sampling Analysis Quality Plan (SAQP) for intrusive investigations.
During the SAQP process, CSIRO wanted to ensure the four RAOs were proactively informed and comfortable with the investigation works to be undertaken.
Accordingly, a specific ESA HMP was developed to manage the ESA intrusive works in an informed and sensitive manner. The ESA team negotiated with the site auditor, along with environmental and heritage consultants to ensure the test pits were in suitable locations, avoiding areas of potential Aboriginal sensitivity. As part of the ESA works, all four RAOs were consulted, with the presence of an archaeologist to supervise the works undertaken in November 2015.
Summary of Approach
The above heritage reporting and continued engagement and consultation with the RAO’s reflects CSIRO’s commitment to manage heritage and environmental values in line with Commonwealth and Territory legislative obligations.