YWCA Canberra promises to push, but Tribunal confirms community opposition to Ainslie project

Proposed YWCA project

An artist’s impression of the rejected supportive housing project. Image: AMC Architecture.

YWCA Canberra is determined to move forward with its supportive housing proposal in Ainslie despite the fact that the development application is extensively preserved in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT).

The Rutherford Crescent project would have provided 10 single-storey units to provide homes for elderly women and women who escaped domestic and family violence.

But the proposal attracted opposition from nearby residents, who were concerned that traffic changes would make the street less safe, Bill Pye Park next door would be affected and that the development was not in line with the neighborhood’s low-density character.

The YWCA Canberra board is considering its next steps, but CEO Frances Crimmins said in a statement that despite the setback, it was determined to continue and continue working with the ACT government to continue the YHomes project.

“We are very disappointed with the decision of the Tribunal and the delay it will entail in making these much-needed homes available to vulnerable women,” Ms Crimmins said.

She said that in the current lockdown period, the YWCA Canberra’s housing services had been flooded with requests, making the lack of supported housing supply in Canberra even more apparent and the need for projects like YHomes even greater.

“YWCA Canberra participated in good faith and with full cooperation in the Tribunal process regarding our YHomes development in Ainslie,” Ms Crimmins said.

“Our mission with this project is to use the land we own to make the greatest impact on vulnerable women and their children in Canberra by building 10 units to support older women and women who escape domestic violence with safe and secure housing. secure housing. “

She said that since the Tribunal decision, the organization had been inundated with messages from the Ainslie community expressing their disappointment with the decision and their wholehearted support for this development.

“We know the need for housing opportunities like YHomes is only growing, and … we look forward to providing the community with more information in the coming weeks as we move this forward,” she said.

Aerial photo of the place

The location of the place in Ainslie.

But YWCA Canberra and its architects will have to make significant changes to the project after ACAT found that the proposal did not comply with a swag of planning rules and that the site was too small for a 10-unit supportive housing development.

It found that the proposal would affect significant trees adjoining the site, the proposed fence was not compatible and would not provide residents with adequate privacy, setbacks were too small, there was insufficient outdoor space, and the units would not receive sufficient sunshine .

There was also not enough space for parking, which should include space for visitors because the street curve meant that parking outside the place was unsafe.

ACAT found that the project would also affect the desired character of the area.

“The court considers that the development proposal provides for a change of order in terms of its immediate and potential long-term negative effects on the park’s landscape character, flora and fauna habitats, streetscapes and facilities for residents and other park users,” said ACAT.

“The contrast to what is now could not be more striking.”

Community Representative Ian Hubbard said the decision justified opposition to what turned out to be a poorly designed project and shone a light on shortcomings by the planning authority that approved it.

He said the reasons for the approval of the decision were insufficient to provide any analysis of what the issues were.

“In fact, in the process, ACTPLA either denied the issues raised or said that there was no rule or criteria that covered them, or in fact that the proposal met the rules and criteria,” Hubbard said.

“It is a concern when you have an authority whose responsibility is to adopt the planning rules and planning legislation, and they cannot.

“From the point of view of the residents, who were trying to protect the community’s facilities from demolition, it was really a disappointment.”

Hubbard said that if YWCA Canberra intended to continue the project, the court showed quite definitively that it needed much more than just an architectural adjustment to be suitable for this site.

“Obviously, they can’t push 10 units on to that site … so they’ll have to come back with a lower number or go on two floors to fit it in,” he said.

The community had written to YWCA Canberra, who suggested that a land swap should be investigated to find a place that was more suitable and more suitable for the facility, and one that would provide greater security and fit better into the suburbs to make it smaller eye catching.

Hubbard said residents supported social housing and had endured a fierce battle with the YWCA Canberra, but they had been proven in the end.

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