We hope you’ve enjoyed a fantastic long weekend celebrating the birthday of our wonderful city!

Thank you to everyone who signed the Manor House Open Letter. With your voice, we’ve been able to advocate for real change to create a more affordable, sustainable, and liveable Canberra. Your voice matters, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Signed, sealed and delivered

On 21 December, we delivered your 214 signatures to all 25 members - Labor, Liberal and Greens - of the ACT Legislative Assembly.

We were thrilled that several MLAs, from across all parties, responded with invitations to meet with them. Since delivering the letter, we’ve had meetings with:

  • Mick Gentleman (Minister for Planning and Land Management)
  • Jo Clay (Chair of the Standing Committee on Planning, Transport and City Services)
  • Rebecca Vassarotti (Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services)
  • Shane Rattenbury (Attorney-General and Leader of the ACT Greens)
  • Mark Parton (Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness).

We’ve talked directly with the decision makers who set the direction of Canberra’s housing policies, and urged them to approve demonstration housing projects like the Manor House. We’ve impressed upon them the importance of having housing options to suit every Canberran.

All three parties in our Assembly have a strong interest in addressing our housing crisis - the challenge is to translate that into meaningful action. We didn’t find universal agreement on every point we raised, but we believe there’s enough common ground to start forging a new consensus on how our planning system considers housing affordability, sustainable density, and the other issues raised in the Open Letter.

We’ve got more MLA meetings coming up soon, and we’ll continue to engage with representatives from across the political spectrum whenever we get the opportunity.

What’s next?

Territory Plan Draft Variation 375 - the rule change that is required to build the Manor House - is currently under consideration by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate. This involves a detailed analysis of the proposal, alongside the hundreds of public comments that have been received. Once their report is finalised, EPSDD can choose to proceed with, revise or withdraw the draft variation.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a fixed timeline for this stage of the process, and we haven’t been given any firm information as to how long EPSDD officials expect this will take.

If the decision is made to proceed, the variation will be referred to the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Planning, Transport and City Services for comment. The Committee may choose to hold a public inquiry. If there is an inquiry, we will be participating to make sure that your views are heard and reflected in the report.

Once the Committee has finished deliberating, the final step is approval by the Minister for Planning and Land Management. If granted, this will clear the way for the Manor House’s proponents to… *drum roll* submit a Development Application for the building, which will take at least several more months to consider. Yep, we know, this is a lengthy and complex process!

Of course, the goal of the Demonstration Housing Project isn’t just to build a handful of new homes for a lucky few - it’s to figure out what types of housing could work in Canberra long-term. We’ll be continuing to engage with EPSDD, the Minister’s office and the Assembly to make sure that the outcomes of the Manor House - and other demonstration projects, like Stellulata Cohousing in Ainslie and In Loco in Forrest - are properly evaluated so that the rules can change for all of us.

Get involved in Greater Canberra

During the course of running the Manor House Open Letter, we realised that Canberra’s urban planning discourse has been dominated for far too long by voices that don’t represent the interests of all Canberrans.

Our team has now formed Greater Canberra, an organisation to advocate for abundant housing and high-quality, sustainable urbanism - including medium-density housing options like the Manor House.

In the few months that we’ve existed, we’ve already been advocating for new public and community housing, and the Stellulata demonstration co-housing project. With the ACT Government rewriting the entire set of planning regulations this year as part of the Planning System Review and Reform Project, we’ll be lobbying to ensure our new planning system delivers a more liveable, sustainable and affordable Canberra for everyone.

There’s a lot of work to be done, and we need your help: If you want to see a better future for Canberra, check out the Greater Canberra website, subscribe to the new Greater Canberra mailing list, follow Greater Canberra on Facebook and Twitter, or join the Discord community where you can chat (and/or share memes) with like-minded Canberrans about all things planning and housing!

That’s all for now - once again, we thank you so much for standing up in favour of more housing options in our city!