Locating new residential areas
Two major new areas for residential development are identified, in addition
to the completion of Gungahlin and residential intensification within
the existing urban area of Canberra.
Molonglo Valley, to the west of Central Canberra between Belconnen and
Weston Creek, will complete the urban edge of Canberra to the west. The
Molonglo Valley is framed by undulating hills, including Dairy Farmers
Hill to the east and Mount Stromlo to the south west, and is bisected
by the lower reaches of the Molonglo River, downstream of Scrivener Dam
and Lake Burley Griffin. The valley is largely grazing country and also
contained the Stromlo Forest softwood pine plantations prior to the 2003
Modification to the natural vegetation in much of the valley has been
significant, although substantial areas of Yellow Box-Red Gum remain.
The area has been identified as capable for urban development based
on an analysis of the physical characteristics of the site. Due to
its proximity to existing services and employment centres, the Molonglo
Valley is considered highly suitable for urban development.
The Molonglo Valley presents a number of significant opportunities to
undertake development in a more sustainable way:
- Residents would be able to access good public transport links to
the employment centres of Belconnen, Civic, Barton/Parkes, Woden and
Tuggeranong. With the advantage of relatively short travel distances,
time savings would be significant versus the alternative of this new
development occurring in more remote areas such as in Gooromon–Jeir
or Googong in NSW.
- By locating new residential development where residents can access
the major employment locations, pressure on the east-west road links
would be reduced. If this development was located in Gooromon–Jeir,
or Googong to the south of Queanbeyan for example, most pressure
on the transport system would come from the north and north-west
or the east and ultimately have greater impacts on the road system
in Belconnen and the Central Area than would development in Molonglo
- This development will effectively reduce the length of Canberra’s
western urban edge which is the most exposed to fire. A well-designed
Bushfire Abatement Zone can be built into the design of the development
(for example, through the location of sports fields) and can help shield
some of the more vulnerable parts of the city from the high risk of
fire along the western path.
- The existing areas of Yellow Box-Red Gum can be further protected
and linked to provide wildlife corridors, connecting northern and southern
endangered ecological communities.
Development within Molonglo Valley would enable the efficient use of
treated effluent from the Lower Molonglo Water Treatment Plant, particularly
for watering gardens and public areas, thereby reducing the demands from
a growing population for potable water. This would also respond to the
Territory’s water strategy to substantially increase the reuse
of treated effluent and could allow for some irrigated sports fields
to mitigate against fire. Development in the Molonglo Valley will also
facilitate the introduction of necessary environmental safeguards for
the water quality of the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee River system, including
water quality control measures that reduce the impact of existing urban
runoff from Woden and Weston Creek.
The Kowen Plateau is located east of the metropolitan area of Canberra
and north of the City of Queanbeyan. It is currently primarily used for
softwood plantation and therefore has experienced significant modification
to the original vegetation. Although not as well located as Molonglo
Valley, Kowen Plateau is situated relatively close to major employment
areas within the Territory and Queanbeyan.
The Kowen Plateau is included in the long-term residential settlement
strategy but may be brought forward if more detailed analysis of Molonglo
Valley shows that this area is constrained for development. Further investigations,
undertaken with the National Capital Authority will establish in more
detail the capacity of the Molonglo Valley, in particular, the implications
of protecting areas of national capital significance. Should these investigations
identify further constraints, additional greenfield areas will be needed
to cater for population growth up to 500,000. Kowen Plateau is the next
best location after Molonglo Valley for future urban development within
the ACT and within a reasonable travel distance of major employment centres
and services. Kowen Plateau has the capacity to accommodate growth well
beyond a population of 500,000 in the ACT-Queanbeyan area.