The National Capital Authority has now released a Draft Amendment Discussion Paper ( https://www.nca.gov.au/consultation/national-capital-plan-draft-amendment-95-north-curtin-diplomatic-estate-and-urban-area) for comment by 7 July and a video https://www.nca.gov.au/consultation/national-capital-plan-draft-amendment-95-north-curtin-diplomatic-estate-and-urban-area.
The actual Draft Amendment is here.
Everyone who has been focused on the horse paddocks will be astonished to see that the draft amendment includes changes to the 10 hectares of the horse paddocks not intended for embassies. The strip of land along Yarra Glen presently classed as Broadacre will be changed to Urban to allow residential development. This was always going to happen at some point but it was not something anyone discussed with agistees or ACTEA as happening instantly as part of the Diplomatic Estate process.
The other surprise is the actual extent of the proposed reclassification which goes beyond the horse paddocks themselves to include much of the green space between the paddocks and Curtin and parts of the road reserves of Cotter Road, McCulloch Street, Dunrossil Drive, Adelaide Avenue and Yarra Glen. This boundary is clearly shown in the public discussion paper. It includes Yarralumla Creek, the cycle path and the equestrian trail around Curtin Oval.
These two developments make the amendment to the National Capital Plan of interest to more than horse owners.
Sally Barnes of the NCA has advised ACTEA that dealing with both land uses under the same amendment to the National Capital Plan will give the NCA some control over residential development so close to he Diplomatic Estate – such as limiting the height and density of buildings.
It is now over 2 months since the agistees at North Curtin Horse Paddocks received a letter from the CEO of the National Capital Authority informing them that it had acquired two thirds of their agistment facility and they would have to leave in 2 years, unless they NCA decided to evict them earlier. Since then
- the President of the ACT Equestrian Association has written to the Minister responsible for Rural Services, Mr Mick Gentleman. ACTEA has also written to the two Labor members for Murrumbidgee, Bec Cody and Chris Steel, seeking support and to Shane Rattenbury reminding him, with photographs, that he signed an MOU on behalf of the government which is being completely ignored. His office has passed that on to the Chief Minister(!) and we understand commented publicly on the lack of consultation.
- agistees have started a petition that has garnered over a thousand signatures (https://www.change.org/p/national-capital-authority-act-government-save-north-curtin-horsepaddocks?recruiter=1080756202&recruited_by_id=f3d73230-8600-11ea-bc43-4dbc37ad038a&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_abi&utm_term=tap_basic_share)
- agistees have also written to the ACT Conservation Council and all three MLAs for the electorate of Murrumbidgee. The Cons Council and Chris Steel have acknowledged their letter.
- their plight has been aired :
in the the RiotACT by Ian Bushnell
- in the City News by Paul Costigan
- ABC Radio did interviews with agistees, Richard Allen and others at the paddocks on Tuesday 12 May
- Liberal Member for Murrumbidgee, Guilia Jones, asked in the Assembly on 7 May why the equestrian community was not consulted before the land swap and has made her own contribution to the debate https://www.facebook.com/abccanberra/posts/10158762956Assembly 452125. She and Jeremy Hanson have mailboxed the residents of Curtin opposing the development.
- The Curtin Residents Association has posted the following on their website http://curtinresidents.asn.au/wp/2020/06/02/curtin-horse-paddocks-and-the-nca-act-government-landswap and included a report on the paddocks situation in their current Newsletter
- ABC TV did a piece on the 7pm news on Thursday 14 May as well as grabs on radio newsletter
- Journalist Paul Costigan is preparing an opinion piece for the 24 May edition of the City News
In all that time and despite all this activity no one from the ACT Government, from the Minister down, has deigned to contact agistees at North Curtin to explain the arrangements they have made with the National Capital Authority; what will happen to the remaining 10 hectares of paddock and when; or what arrangements they have made, if any, for the accommodation of displaced horses.
When contacted by ACTEA, Mr Gentleman’s Chief of Staff denied the MOU ACTEA has with the Government in regard to horse paddocks even applied to his Minister. This was a fabulous claim to make since Mr Gentleman is both the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and the Minister for Planning and Land Management and wearing either of those hats he has a responsibility in this matter. At this stage ACTEA has received no written response to its representations.
In response to Mrs Jones’ question on Thursday 7 May, Minister Gentleman’s position seemed to have shifted a little when he replied, inter alia:
It is certainly our intention to liaise as much as possible with equestrian groups across the ACT.
In the meantime, we will work with those agistees on another opportunity, perhaps looking for another horse paddock in the ACT.
..we view the agreements between agistees, particularly the equestrian groups in he territory, and government as important memorandums of understanding. We will certainly be working with them on future opportunities for them to agist their horses. As I have just said, it was a federal government decision to acquire the land. We will certainly work as well as we can with those groups into the future.
At this point in time the best explanation for what has happened to North Curtain horse paddocks has come from a journalist, Ian Bushnell, in his last two articles https://the-riotact.com/how-north-curtin-horse-paddocks-fate-was-sealed-from-the-beginning/375894 and https://the-riotact.com/yarralumla-kick-ensured-nca-kept-curtin-community-in-the-dark/376199.
We are all still waiting however for any kind of communication from either the Minister or senior management in the responsible Directorate. Until that happens North Curtin horse owners are just unacknowledged detritus in a development deal.
ACT Equestrian Association