Greater Canberra is calling on the Legislative Assembly to amend the ACT Government’s new Planning Bill to help address our housing crisis and make Canberra more affordable.

“Our planning system is the single most important tool we have to make Canberra more affordable, sustainable and liveable. The current Planning and Development Act 2007 is deeply flawed, and the Planning System Review was an excellent opportunity to fix a broken system. However, the Planning Bill as introduced leaves many key issues unaddressed.” - Howard Maclean, Convenor, Greater Canberra

Despite Canberra’s housing shortage resulting in some of the worst housing costs in Australia, housing affordability and sufficient housing supply are only referenced in passing in the Bill.

“The Bill’s objects and principles of good planning, which guide the entire outcomes-focussed planning system, pay only lip service to the impact of planning on housing affordability, the cost of living, and reducing poverty.” - Maclean

The current Planning Bill would also continue to allow nuisance lawsuits which delay much-needed new medium-density housing, social housing and community amenities in Canberra’s inner suburbs. Developments that have recently been held up due to ACAT merits reviews include the YWCA’s YHomes project and the Ainslie Football Club’s proposed child-care centre.

“Third party ACAT appeal rights have been an unmitigated disaster for our city over the past few decades. Third party appeals already do not apply to detached McMansions, which are DA-exempt, or to developments in the Town Centres and Kingston Foreshore, and the Bill proposes to eliminate them for new greenfield developments. But medium-density developments in our suburban areas - particularly public and social housing - can still be held up for many months.” - Maclean

“The Government spends huge amounts of resources fighting lawsuits against Housing ACT developments in wealthy suburbs where local residents argue that duplexes and medium-density housing are against the “desired character” of the neighbourhood. ACAT has also been abused by incumbent retailers to attempt to block competition, such as the delay of Dickson Coles due to an appeal bankrolled by the landlord of the Woolworths next door. The Government should remove this self-inflicted impediment to meeting our housing goals, reducing our public housing wait list, and revitalising our local centres.” - Maclean

Greater Canberra remains concerned by the role of District Strategies and District Codes in the new planning framework, which is still unclear.

“Canberra should be an egalitarian city, with clear, simple and universal rules. Standards and rules for new housing and development should be the same in Griffith as they are in Melba, Wanniassa, and Forde. District strategies are often talked about as protecting the “unique character” of districts - our concern is that they will become vehicles to create different rules between the more affluent and less affluent parts of our city. Our city’s inner suburbs, with the best employment opportunities and access to amenities, are already failing to pull their weight in terms of new housing. This makes our city poorer and less sustainable, with more expensive housing and longer commutes.” - Maclean

“Canberra deserves a planning system that can deliver bold action on housing affordability, cost of living, sustainability, and emissions reduction. This Bill could go further on each of these vital matters.” - Maclean

Greater Canberra will be making a submission to the Assembly’s Inquiry into the Planning Bill to push for these sensible changes (as recommended in our submission on the draft bill), and will be advocating for zoning reforms to enable more housing and fill the “missing middle” gap in the new Territory Plan.

About Greater Canberra

Greater Canberra is a community advocacy group committed to affordable and high-quality housing in Canberra. We believe in a future where housing is abundant, and where everyone can enjoy a more sustainable and liveable city. For more information, see