Place Plan & Development Concept
The community helped develop the Place Plan and Development Concept, which will guide the future estate development plan and the future development on the site.
Section 76 in north Watson lies between Aspinall Street and the Federal Highway, next to the Starlight Apartments. The site has been identified for housing, a park and open space to protect wildlife habitat.
The ACT Government is now proceeding with the preparations of an estate development plan and a new neighbourhood park. The construction of the park is expected to commence in mid 2023. Plans showing the design of the park will regularly be updated on this website and can be found here.
Consultation on the estate development plan for Watson Section 76 is open from 31 July 2023 to 14 August 2023 at www.taitnetwork.com/engagement.
Pop-up stalls are being held at the following times:
In the future you will also have the opportunity to comment on the development applications for the proposed Demonstration Housing site and residential site being released by the Suburban Land Agency.
Section 76 is part of the ACT’s urban renewal program to help us build a compact, liveable city. The site is on the ACT’s Indicative Land Release Program. The site will include:
Note - a pathway connection between Aspinall Street and the Federal Highway will be delivered at a future date by the developer of the Suburban Land Agency site.
In 2018, you told us you wanted the development of Watson Section 76 and 74 to be sensitive to the local character of the suburb—to be sustainable, inclusive, resilient, leafy and active.
In 2021, you had your say again to help us develop the Place Plan and Development Concept to guide the development of the site. You told us what you would like to see in the neighbourhood park and walking and cycling connections to the site. The listening report outlines what we heard during the consultation.
In April 2022, after going out for public comment, planning changes recommended in the Place Plan and Development Concept were implemented through Territory Plan Variation 372.
The community helped develop the Place Plan and Development Concept, which will guide the future estate development plan and the future development on the site.
Section 76 Watson will include a park where people of a range of ages will be able to enjoy themselves. The park incorporates many suggestions from the community.
The ACT Government has a hierarchy of parks. Local neighbourhood parks allow for play equipment, walking and cycling paths, soft landscaping and some recreational facilities. They do not generally allow for waterplay, BBQ and dynamic or moveable fitness equipment due to the maintenance required for these amenities.
These amenities are in line with the outcomes of community consultation on the Better Suburbs Statement 2030 and the Better places to play: ACT Play Space Strategy.
A larger Central community play space is also in the planning stages as the inner north destination play space. Last year the Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate consulted with the community on this new destination play space to be located in Watson, bounded by Windeyer Street, Burton Street and A'Beckett Street. The play space will be for the community and include multi-purpose courts to replace the courts previously located on the old Canberra Technology Park site.
On-street parking will be available on Aspinall Street. Under current ACT Government development codes and Local Neighbourhood Play Space standards, dedicated parking is not required.
New walking and cycling connections to the park and through to the Federal Highway will encourage people to walk or cycle to the park.
The trees around the perimeter of the site, which provide important habitat, will be protected under the zoning of Parks and Recreation Zone 1—Urban Open Space (PRZ1 – Urban Open Space).
The Estate Development Plan (EDP) for the site will include a tree and landscape management plan developed by a specialist arborist. It will provide recommendations for new tree plantings and steps that can be taken to improve the health and maintenance of the existing trees.
The EDP and tree and landscape management plan may recommend that specific trees be removed, for example, if the tree poses a risk to public safety, or to provide access to the site from Aspinall Street. The community will be consulted on the plan.
In 2023/24, the government will develop an estate development plan for approval before the land can be sold for the development of housing. Future development proposals will also need to go through the development approval processes, which provides further opportunities for community comment.
Construction of the park is due to start in April 2023, with completion expected by September/October 2023. The access infrastructure to the estate is anticipated to commence construction in the middle of 2024.
Territory Plan Variation 372 (V372) changed the land-use zoning from Commercial Zone 6—Leisure and Accommodation (CZ6) to part Residential Zone 4—Medium Density Residential (RZ4) and Parks and Recreation Zone 1—Urban Open Space (PRZ1) under the Territory Plan.
The RZ4 changes are consistent with other planning rules in north Watson, which allow a mix of townhouses, apartments and single dwelling houses. RZ4 also allows some community and commercial uses, should the demand arise.
The Urban Open Space provides recreational space and protects important habitat trees and areas for the vulnerable Superb Parrot and other wildlife. It also helps reduce the urban heat effect and provides amenity to new and existing residents.
The Territory Plan also allows co-housing and social enterprise, which will support the delivery of Demonstration Housing, a project to deliver better built quality and design outcomes.
Part of the site includes provisions from the National Capital Plan, which allows up to two storeys for buildings closer to the Federal Highway. On the Aspinall Street side of the site, where the National Capital Plan does not apply, building heights of two to four storeys is permitted. A four-storey building height limit is to be designed to be sympathetic to the landscape, with future buildings being lower than the existing trees on the site along Aspinall Street
Demonstration Housing is a government initiative that seeks to test innovative housing and promote excellence in design, building quality and sustainability that may meet a number of desired outcomes and objectives of
government but might not be possible under the current planning rules.
An aim of the initiative is to identify how more flexibility in elements of the planning system could enable more housing choice and encourage the type and quality of residential buildings that our community needs and is looking for. There is a handful of sites around Canberra that are proposed for demonstration housing projects. Demonstration Housing proponents present proposals (for an identified site or without a site) through an expression of interest.
Demonstration Housing is closely aligned to the ACT Government’s Housing Choices policy project that focused on how government can better meet the housing needs of the city’s residents, now and into the future.
We sought community comment on draft variation number 372 to the Territory Plan and a draft Place Plan and Development Concept for Section 76. We also asked for ideas on what the community might propose for the one-hectare public park and to inform the final place plan
There are a number of already defined current government commitments and policies that relate to this project:
Section 76 is currently a vacant, undeveloped site owned by the ACT Government and zoned for Leisure and Accommodation CZ6.
The ACT Government has committed to provide:
• 150-200 new dwellings on the site.
•Demonstration Housing to showcase best practice housing design and investigate different types of housing, such as co-housing.
• a one-hectare neighbourhood park to provide north Watson residents with additional, quality public open space.
• protection areas for flora and fauna where values have been identified.
The draft Place Plan and Development Concept is within one document that provides an indication of what the future for Section 76 could look like, reflecting previous community consultation undertaken in 2018 and input from the Watson Community Association. It was also the basis for seeking community feedback.
The draft Place Plan provides a vision, themes, key principles and key actions that aim to deliver urban renewal in consideration of the aspirations of community and the character of the place. It also provides an indication of how the ACT Government’s commitments could be realised on Section 76. These commitments include 150-200 new dwellings, demonstration housing, a one-hectare public park and additional urban open space.
The draft Place Plan and Development Concept also illustrates how better walking and cycling paths that connect to the existing network could occur and how the proposed land use changes through draft variation number 372 could look.
The final Place Plan and Development Concept will set the direction for the future development of the site. It will also inform more detailed design proposals and requirements for elements of the site, including the park and walking and cycling paths. This will inform a future Estate Development Plan, where the detail of the final layout, building layout and landscape design will be developed. Estate Development Plans are considered through a development application process, which also includes further community consultation.
As a growing city, we must find ways to house our residents that are sustainable and retain our city character. The 2018 ACT Planning Strategy created a vision of Canberra as a compact, sustainable, and inclusive city. To achieve this, the Planning Strategy sets a goal for 70% of new development to occur within the existing urban footprint. By developing within existing urban areas, we are able to reduce urban spread and increase density in appropriate locations, such as along transport routes and near other services and facilities. By increasing density, we are also able to use less land and provide greater housing choice where people want to live closer to amenities and infrastructure.
Consistent with this strategy, Watson Section 76 has been identified as a future development site for a number of years. It is close to major roads, public transport, shops and services. The site will provide housing for 150-200 people or families wanting to live in Watson and will include almost 3 hectares of open space, including a neighbourhood park. It is located close to a number of existing parks and open spaces including:
The trees to the north of the site, along the Federal Highway, are generally outside the site boundary and are located on land within the road reserve. Inside the site boundary, a 15-metre landscape setback is also required, under the National Capital Plan.
The trees on the south-east corner of the site are in an area that is identified to be re-zoned to urban open space. It is intended that these trees will be retained, unless removal is required for the reasons discussed in the previous question.
The row of trees on the east side of the site are within the area of land that is proposed to be rezoned as residential zone. By including these trees within the residential zoned land, they are able to form part of the setback and open space requirements for that development.
During the 2018 community consultation on adding residential use to Section 76 and Section 74 Watson, there was a general community view that there are not enough community facilities to match the residential development in north Watson.
A community needs assessment for Dickson Section 72 was undertaken in 2019 and included Watson as part of the study catchment. The assessment’s key findings showed the future need for community facilities in the inner north projected to 2029 and 2039. The assessment found the need for:
There is also a need for new development within the catchment to protect open space.
Like other cities across the world, providing community facilities in urban renewal settings means finding more sustainable use of our existing land and current and future facilities to meet the need of a changing population. We need to provide a mix of uses close to public transport and in flexible spaces and buildings that can change over time to meet the needs of our community.
The land-use zoning of residential zone RZ4 proposed in draft variation number 372 to the Territory Plan does allow for some community uses, such as a community activity centre or childcare centre. The Demonstration Housing proposed in DV372 also provides for a social enterprise, such as a café and a craft workshop. The Norrebro development adjacent to Section 76 on Anthill Street proposes a gym, cafe and a childcare centre.
The ACT Education Directorate has been consulted on the planning for the site and the needs for the future.
Canberra’s Living Infrastructure Plan aims to have Canberra’s urban environment covered by 30% of tree canopy and 30% permeable surfaces by 2045.
The draft Place Plan and Development Concept responds to this policy by setting a target of 30% tree canopy and 30% permeable surfaces to be developed and maintained across the site.
The draft Place Plan and Development Concept also responds to the value the community has placed on the trees and landscapes in the ‘place themes’, including ‘leafy suburb’, ‘sustainable living’ and ‘resilient neighbourhood’. The ‘design principles’ express these values in ‘green and active’ and ‘sustainable and resilient’.
Section 74 is another government-owned future urban development block between Aspinall Street and the Federal Highway. Planning investigations for the block are not as advanced as they are for Section 76 and it will progressed through a separate process.
The ACT Government will keep residents informed about plans for Section 74 as information becomes available.
No. More information on that project is available here.
The proposed land use zoning RZ4 Medium Residential does allow for some community uses such as for a childcare centre or health facility. However, the zoning does not allow for commercial retail uses such a shopping centre.
The Norrebro development on Aspinall Street proposes to include a café, restaurant, childcare centre or gym which could serve to meet some of the demand for such uses in the area. Commercial facilities are also being incorporated into the proposed mixed-use development next to the Watson shops known as Alberi. Whilst other developments in North Watson to date have allowed for commercial development, such development has been limited mostly due to viability of shops so close to other local centres.
The draft variation to the Territory Plan number 372 proposes to add a social enterprise and craft workshop as part of the Demonstration Housing project. A café could be included as an auxiliary use to the social enterprise, which is primarily to provide opportunities for people to develop new skills.
A Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) was undertaken and included both Section 74 and 76 to get a clear understanding of what the future impacts of development would be on the local road network and parking requirements. To ensure that there is adequate capacity, the assessment was based on 560 dwellings. Although 150-200 dwellings are proposed for Section 76 and potentially another 200 for Section 74 in the future, a conservative approach was taken to assess the information within the bracket of use expected. The TIA also considered the cumulative impacts of other developments in north Watson, including the Norrebro, The Ridge, and Mount Majura Estate.
Sections 74 and 76 were found to generate approximately 1680 daily vehicle trips (and 168 trips in each peak hour). This figure was determined using the Estate Development Code.
An assessment of nearby intersections showed that the intersections operate well under capacity and with appropriate delays and queuing. The future daily volume along Antill Street and Aspinall Street was marginally above the capacity. However, the actual impact of the additional traffic on neighbourhood amenity would be minimal.
Superb Parrots regularly move through urban environments to feed and shelter, sometimes in large group as often seen at University of Canberra and Australian Institute of Sport. Superb Parrots only breed in woodland areas, and typically in colonies. The Superb Parrot forages on the trees to the west and north of Section 76, but they do not nest on the site.
In the development of the Place Plan, advice was sought from ACT Parks and Conservation Service ecologists with expertise in Superb Parrots and their conservation, including their interaction with the urban environment. They advised that the draft Place Plan and Development Concept and draft variation number 372 to the Territory Plan are biodiversity sensitive.
A large part of Section 76, including an area the Superb Parrot uses for foraging, will be rezoned to urban open space. Much of the existing habitat in this urban open space zoning will be protected in perpetuity, will be off limits to development, and will be managed by the Territory. The proposed new public park will also include plants and trees that support wildlife. At present, the land is zoned CZ6 Leisure and Accommodation, which offers no such protection, so the changes proposed will support long-term conservation of habitat for wildlife.
Draft variation number 372 to the Territory Plan proposes to change the allowable building heights of 2 storeys to 4 storeys to the south of the site only. There is currently a 3 storeys building height limit at the Starlight Apartment and 3-4 storey building height limit at the Solstice on Antill Street. The ACT Parks and Conservation Service has advised there is no evidence that a building height limit of up to 4 storeys will have adverse impact on the Superb Parrot.
During construction of housing on Section 76, the Superb Parrot may avoid the area temporarily. However, the impact on the Superb Parrot will be minor, as there are many other areas in the suburb they can use for foraging while building occurs.
The draft Place Plan and Development Concept commits to 30 per cent canopy cover across the site, which will support wildlife on site.
As part of the Estate Development Plan to be developed for the site, a Tree and Landscape Management Plan will need to be prepared by a specialist arborist. It will provide recommendations for new tree plantings and steps that can be taken to improve the health and maintenance of the existing trees. The community will be consulted on the Estate Development Plan and have input into future Development Approval applications.
Superb Parrot foraging locations are associated with vegetation cover in the 3-20 metre height range, and the presence of native Blakely's Red Gum, Yellow Box, Mugga Ironbark, Argyle Apple, River Peppermint, Cootamundra Wattle, and exotic Elms (English and Chinese).
Superb Parrots feed on a variety of plants, including:
During the planning and investigations phase of the project, it was found that north Watson had capacity for another park or a local park or playground as one is recommended every 300-400 metres in a residential area under the Estate Development Code.
The site location has been selected to ensure that most residents in North Watson can access the park within a short walking distance from their homes. The site is also adjacent to the Norrebro development which proposes a mixed-use building to include a cafe, grocer, and childcare centre, providing a good co-location of uses with a local neighbourhood park.
The Watson Community Association’s Plan for Watson and consultation undertaken in 2018 have been considered in the draft Territory Plan variation number 372 and the draft Place Plan and Development Concept. We have published a document that shows how the WCA and the broader community’s concerns have been responded to. You can read the document in the document library on this YourSay page.
The proposed one-hectare park on Section 76, which is more than double that proposed by community previously, will be classified as a local neighbourhood park and maintained by the ACT Government. Local neighbourhood parks allow for play equipment, walking and cycling paths, soft landscaping and some recreational facilities but do not generally allow for waterplay, BBQ and dynamic or moveable fitness equipment due to the maintenance required for these amenities.
These amenities are in line with the outcomes of community consultation on the Better Suburbs Statement 2030.
Universal inclusion, safety in the park, and improved amenities (seating and shade) will be primary considerations in creating the final design concept for the one-hectare public park. The ACT Government aims to create a network of play opportunities and equitable provision of infrastructure for all ages, abilities and play styles.
The delivery of the park is subject to budget processes.
This park is in addition to the open space set aside for protection of trees, shade, and habitat. This area also provides opportunities for a cycle and pedestrian connection through to Northbourne Avenue.
The Territory Plan is a statutory document that guides planning and development in the ACT to provide the people of the ACT with an attractive, safe and efficient environment in which to live, work and play. The Territory Plan is used to:
At this stage, Section 76 can continue to be used informally for recreation – for example, by people walking their dogs on a lead. But during work on the block such as site investigations using machinery, residents may be asked to refrain from entering the site to keep themselves and the workers on site safe. This has happened a small number of times over the past two years.
Section 74 has a licence agreement for the purpose of grazing over the site. Because of this agreement and current use, we ask that residents do not use that site for informal recreation.
Some 150-200 dwellings are being proposed for Section 76 Watson. The type of housing could include apartments, townhouses, and single residential dwellings. The final housing type and mix will be decided through an Estate Development Plan or further development applications, both of which require community consultation processes. There will also be community consultation on the detailed design of the Demonstration Housing project.
A naturally occurring ‘Gossan’ (a group of heavy metals) was found on the north portion of Section 76. Future development applications for the site must include an environmental assessment into the site’s suitability for any future land uses, including commercial, community and residential uses.
This environmental assessment would be undertaken as part of an estate development plan or development application. The Environment Protection Authority would need to endorse that the contamination could be dealt with according to the ACT Contaminated Sites Environment Protection Policy.
No. The site is not within a riverine flood zone. However, at the detailed design or at the Estate Development Plan stage, further stormwater analysis is required to confirm stormwater flooding and overland flow paths and any requirements with regards to onsite water detention/retention. The developer will complete this work when developing their proposal and be guided by the North Watson Stormwater Masterplan.
Currently, overland flows travel towards the western boundary of Section 76. Stormwater inlet structures and water sensitive urban design strategies will be required as part of the developments.
A bushfire prone area is located along the Federal Highway boundary of Section 76. This means a future developer would be required to meet specific bushfire building design standards as part of development application processes. This will require an assessment by an accredited bushfire consultant to show that appropriate protections will be in place in relation to bushfire hazards.
The ACT Government has committed to a target of delivering net zero emissions by 2045 under the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010. Any future residential development on the site will need to comply with the initiatives outlined in this and and the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25. The draft Territory Plan variation number 372 and draft Place Plan and Development Concept have considered the following:
Canberrans are increasingly suffering from the ‘urban heat island effect’. This occurs when pavements, roads and buildings absorb the sun’s heat and radiate it back, increasing temperatures day and night. The Living Infrastructure Plan aims to have 30% of Canberra’s urban environment covered by a tree canopy and permeable surfaces by 2045.
Rezoning part of the site to PRZ1 Urban Open Space will help reduce urban heat and provide for visual amenity, a one-hectare neighbourhood park and the retention of important trees for wildlife habitat.
In 2018, SGS Economics and Planning and the ACT Government consulted with the community on a draft planning report that looked at adding residential use to the current CZ6 Leisure and Accommodation to provide for future housing on Section 76 and Section 74 Watson. There were 160 responses to the online survey, with 87 percent of these responses being from residents of Watson.
At the invitation of the Watson Community Association (WCA), representatives from the ACT Government and consultants SGS Economics and Planning, Indesco and Traffix Group attended a meeting on the evening of Monday 23 July 2018 at the community centre in Tay Street, North Watson.
The Watson Community Association also responded to community consultation by developing their Plan for Watson.
Key community concerns that were raised from the 2018 community consultation and the WCA documents included:
The proposed variation, to rezone to allow for residential uses on the site, is consistent with the ACT Government’s strategic planning and other priorities, including the 2018 ACT Planning Strategy.
Establishing a more compact city requires the concentration of future housing development in existing, well-connected and accessible locations. This helps to reduce the need for extensions to service infrastructure, and the need to encroach further on existing natural and undeveloped land on the outskirts of the ACT.
Providing the option for further housing development in relatively accessible locations such as North Watson is also consistent with the aims of the Planning Strategy and the draft Moving Canberra strategy to increase the use of public transport and active transport and reduce the number of private cars on the roads.
Allowing for housing in this area also aligns with the aims of the ACT Planning Strategy and ACT Housing Strategy. Development of low or medium density housing on the sites, with their frontage onto the Federal Highway (although without direct road access), is also likely to be consistent with the desired character of the area under the City and Gateway Urban Design Framework, for a progressive increase in densities on approach to the centre of the city.
Designs for the Demonstration Housing on the site in Watson Section 76 have not been prepared at this stage in the process. Other Demonstration Housing project designs can be found on the Demonstration Housing website.
If the current proponents are successful in the Stage 2 Request for Tender, they will be required to undertake pre-Development Assessment consultation on their proposal, as well as statutory consultation through the Development Application process.
If the current Demonstration Housing project does not proceed, government would likely consider alternative release options for the site.
The ACT Government responded to a resolution of the Legislative Assembly in August 2020 about the protection of the Yellow Box-Blakeley’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland (Yellow Box Woodland) at north Watson. The Government’s preliminary investigations committed to preserving Yellow Box Woodlands within the ACT. Investigations will continue into the appropriate land use and management systems for the site.
We acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as traditional custodians of the ACT and recognise any other people or families with connection to the lands of the ACT and region. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.
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Your Say website contains the copyrighted material, trademarks, patents, trade secrets and other proprietary information (“Intellectual Property”) of Social Pinpoint and its suppliers and licensors. ACT Government owns and retains all proprietary rights in the intellectual property. All intellectual property in the content of this site including without limitation to text, software, source code, pages, documents and online graphics, photographs, sounds, audio, video and other interactive features are owned by or licensed to us.
Any original content that you submit or post on our site may be made available to the public and allows users to share your content (with the end user acknowledging your contribution) under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Australian License.
Except for Intellectual Property which is in the public domain or for which you have been given written permission, you may not copy, alter, transmit, sell, or distribute any of the Intellectual Property.
We are not responsible for your communications or dealings, including payment and delivery of goods or services, with a third party found via our website. Any loss or damage incurred from those communications or dealings are solely between the user and the third party.
Disclaimer and Warranties
Users must agree that your use of the site is at your own risk. We make no warranty that the site will meet your requirements or be uninterrupted or error-free. Any material that the user downloads through the site is done at their own risk and users are responsible for any damages to their computer system or loss of data.
What happens if these Terms change?
We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to modify or replace these Terms at any time without notice. The most recent version of the Terms can be seen on this page. By continuing to access or use our site after those revisions become effective, you agree and will comply to the revised terms. If you do not agree to the revised terms, please discontinue using our site.
If you have any questions about these Terms, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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