Thursday, November 26, 2009

Canberra planning forum agenda

Greetings from Parliament House Canberra, where the National Capital Authority (NCA) is holding a public forum on planning in Canberra. THere are about three hundred people present. Sitting next to me is Senator Kate Lundy, chair of the parliamentary committee which delivered recommendations on planning Canberra: "The Way Forward – Inquiry into the role of the National Capital" and who talked on "Creating a New Nation’s Capital – the international origins of the Griffin Canberra Plan" recently (she is Tweeting with the tag "#NCAforum"). One controversial topic on the agenda is the new ASIO Building.

The event did not start well with the MC giving an overly long legal statement explaining that the event would be videoed. This was followed by a brief and interesting introduction by Professor Atkin. This was a brief pause in the tedium, as then several went through the details of NCA legislation and the legalese of the NCA National Capital Plan. have been to several planning meetings and this was not one of the best. NCA might have expert planners, but they are not good communicators. The planners of the Sydney City Council, Leichardt Council and the ACT Government do a much better job. It may because local government agencies have to do it more often. As the talks progressed over 30 minutes the style got a little more relaxed and interesting. The high point for me was a comment on the volunteers who look after the Old Parliament House rose garden "with love".

The NCA claims to be going to release an interactive online forum to allow comments from the citizens. This will be good when done. However, the organisation will need to do some work in online communication styles.

The question I registered was: "What changes have been made to the national capital planning process to take into account the development of the Internet". With is I had in mind both the effect on the physical structure of the city and the way consultations on planning are done. AGIMO have some guidelines for online policy consultation and NCA might consider using them. However, I am sitting in the public forum wondering if I am going to get an answer. If I was a concerned citizen who could not get to the forum, I wonder if they would have any chance of an answer.

One issue which came up was the Immigration Bridge, which is opposed by the Friends of the Albert Hall. The NCA response was that there is no current plan for the bridge and any would have to be consistent with Canberra plans.

Also Professor Jan Gehl will present the 2009 Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture in Canberra, 30 November 2009.

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