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.
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.