Report on our activities in 2019
The Forrest Residents Group (FRG) currently operates on a pop-up basis to deal with issues that arise and provide residents with news and information about our suburb. We communicate by email with approximately 70 residents who have agreed to be on our contacts list. Additional contacts are most welcome. Our email address is mail@firstname.lastname@example.org and our website is https://www.forrestresidents.asn.au
Since the November 2019 AGM, the then Executive Committee has disbanded as individual members withdrew for personal reasons. We thank the previous committee, particularly Margaret Atcherley and John Newham. Margaret chaired the group from its inception in 2016, her skill and hard work guiding it through sometimes troubled waters and achieving real benefits for the suburb. John continues to lead the volunteers maintaining the wellbeing of the trees that bring us all so much pleasure. Thank you, John.
The current Committee consists of unelected volunteers who came forward between December and April to keep the group operational. Eventually, in April 2019, new office bearers emerged and the current Committee was formed. Its members are:
Elizabeth Goodbody, Chair
Clive Williams, Deputy Chair
Sue Parr, Secretary (Minutes) and Coordinator, Street Sign Repair
Tui Davidson, Treasurer
Moira Smythe, Secretary (Communications)
Neville Smythe, IT Officer
Gary Kent, ISCCC representative
We are very pleased that Ann Kent has recently agreed to join the committee as a non-office bearing member to contribute particularly on heritage issues and writing submissions. Additional volunteers, with or without specific interests, would be put to good use at times.
As the Committee is operating without a mandate conferred by election, attendees at the FRG meeting on 30 November will be asked to give formal approval to its current mode of operation, which appears to suit residents’ needs.
We are committed to retaining the character and historical features of our suburb by protecting heritage properties, maintaining its RZ1 zones containing predominantly single houses on large blocks, restricting multiple occupancies to the ample zones currently provided for them, and seeking more regulation of rebuilds to ensure substantial setbacks and green space.
Our trees are vital to the character of the suburb and our enjoyment of life. We cherish the trees and support the efforts of John Newham and his volunteers to preserve their wellbeing.
We intend to maintain close links with the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC) to which we are affiliated (and which funds our website). We will communicate with other ISCCC-affiliated groups in our area.
We will continue to initiate contacts with ACT politicians and others relevant to our area and its interests.
We will keep residents informed and endeavour to respond to their concerns.
Achievements and activities in 2019
Restoration of heritage street signs
The FRG Committee congratulates its member Sue Parr and the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC) on their receipt of an ACT Heritage Grant for Forrest Heritage Street Sign Restoration.
The project aims to restore a total of ten 1920s street signs in and approaching the heritage listed Forrest Housing Precinct and in the adjacent Blandfordia heritage area. Similar restoration work has already been done on street signs in Kingston/Barton through a similar grant. The Forrest grant application, made under the auspices of the Inner South Canberra Community Council, had the support of the ACT and District Historical Society and local residents.
All intersections on Dominion Circuit between Melbourne and Canberra Avenues (except the Hobart Avenue/Tasmania Circle intersection, where the sign is missing) will have restored heritage signs, resulting in 1.2 km of a 1920/30s streetscape in line with Walter Burley Griffin's garden city concept. The inclusion of some isolated heritage street signs nearby will complete the restoration of all such signs in the inner south.
The precinct reflects a highly ordered composition of dwellings, driveways and public space including public domain landscaping by Thomas Charles Weston. Street furniture was integral to its aesthetics.
The tall street signs on Dominion Circuit, several of which are on traffic islands, reflect the scale of the housing and streetscape. The smaller streets have the short concrete signs, also used in Barton and Reid, intended for easier pedestrian use. Full height signs are at Dominion/Melbourne, Dominion/Davey, Dominion/Barkly, Dominion/Sorell, and Dominion/Arthur. Short signs are at National/Sorell, Dominion/Franklin, Tennyson/Wilmot, Monaro Cres/Stokes St, and Flinders Way/La Perouse (outside 30 La Perouse).
ACT Roads will cover half the professional costs and the Grant is hoped to cover most of the remainder. Volunteers will be needed for project management, auditing and painting. Residents may expect to hear more about this, but probably not before February. Meanwhile we have cause to thank Sue for initiating the project and developing the grant application, the ISCCC for providing the necessary institutional backing and the ACT Government for providing funding. We will all enjoy the result.
Does anyone know anything that might help us find the missing sign from Dominion Circuit/Hobart Ave?
Early in August FRG responded to requests for assistance from residents who had lodged objections in October 2018 to a development application (DA) seeking to subdivide an RZ1-zoned block on Melbourne Avenue containing a heritage nominated house. They had tried to obtain information about the progress of the DA and received a confusing reply which they thought meant the DA had been approved. An FRG Committee member made further enquiries about the house and the process. We then wrote to the ACT Planning Directorate and relevant ACT politicians in support of the residents’ objections. A reply five weeks later from the Planning Minister indicated that the DA was still under consideration. Subsequently, near the end of October 2019, the residents who had lodged objections were notified that the subdivision had been disallowed for heritage and zoning reasons. We welcome the preservation of the character of the heritage house and the decision’s compliance with existing zoning rules.
In September the National Capital Authority (NCA) notified the FRG of a Works Approval Application (NCA equivalent of a DA) seeking to demolish an existing house opposite Forrest Primary School in the NCA-controlled section of Hobart Avenue and replace it with three two-storey residences covering a far greater proportion of the block. After consultation with its close neighbours and receipt of comments from some FRG contacts, we responded to the NCA supporting objections raised by individuals and on behalf of NCA zone residents. The objections included technical issues with claims made in the Application, plus concerns about over-densification and loss of open space, inadequate setbacks from the street and side fences, and detrimental loss of privacy and overshadowing for immediate neighbours. Although we were assured in September that the Application would be processed promptly, we have not yet been notified of an outcome.
FRG Committee members have attended a number of meetings organised by the ACT’s Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Division as it seeks to set up consultation processes for the Regional Plans which will replace the overall Territory Plan. The quality of these meetings has varied. One meeting which appeared to relate to the Manuka shops turned out to relate instead to the whole inner south area, but some suburbs further away from Manuka, judging it irrelevant to them, were not represented. Another meeting about the Integrated Plan for Red Hill Nature Reserve and Surrounds appeared to be better received and its draft plan is now available.
Committee members have also attended some ISCCC committee meetings by invitation. As non-elected office bearers we are not eligible for inclusion in the ISCCC’s committee. This is not causing us any problems and our communication with ISCCC executives is excellent.
Committee members and others have attended public meetings, including those organised by the ISCCC, on issues such as transport, climate change and its effect on our trees, and meet-the-candidates opportunities. We often have difficulty finding a committee member available to attend a particular meeting; hence our desire to expand the Committee.
The FRG Committee itself does not meet often as most communication occurs by email.
As previously notified, FRG contacts are invited to Xmas drinks and an annual meeting at 4:30pm on Saturday 30 November in the section of Collins Park nearest Hobart Ave.
FRG Financial Report as at 12 November 2019
Carried forward from November 2018 $225.45
Income November 2018 to November 2019 $0.00
Expenditure November 2018 to November 2019 $0.00
Funds available going forward $225.45
There are no membership fees. No expenditure is foreseen at present. Should the need arise, we envisage calling for contributions.
We have no bank account. Available funds are held securely by our Treasurer, Tui Davidson, who has provided this report.
Issues for 2020
The Committee will continue to scrutinise development applications and lodge submissions when appropriate.
We will continue to monitor the condition of the Melbourne Avenue median strip outside Canberra Girls Grammar and engage with ACT government bodies about it. Its poor condition is largely due to drop-off parking outside the school, made worse by prolonged parking on occasions such as school fêtes. In response to our approach to relevant ACT Ministers, ACT Roads contacted the FRG about arrangements for this year’s fête and indicated that they were engaging with the school about better parking arrangements generally. We need to recognise the particular difficulty of imposing parking regulations near a school where they may impact adversely on the safety of students.
The hotel approved last year in place of the former Australian Italian Club has been listed for sale by the initial purchaser. The vacant block is to be sold together with approval for the hotel. It has been on the market for some months. The FRG Committee and concerned local residents will monitor the outcome.
Parking in our streets by office workers all day, Monday to Friday, is not welcomed by those forced to live with it on their doorsteps or by others who regret its adverse impact on the appearance and tranquillity of the suburb. We realise that people who arrive at 7am in order to get a parking spot are obviously without a practical alternative. Resources permitting, the Committee would like to investigate what alternatives may be available. The present situation will get significantly worse if/when the new hotel gets under way, displacing the 100 or more vehicles now parked there daily and requiring additional parking for its construction workers.
Residents are invited to nominate other issues of concern.
Committee members are likely to be coming and going from Canberra in December and January so, after the Xmas drinks and annual meeting on 30 November, we will adjourn until February.
There will be a reminder of the meeting a few days beforehand with more information about arrangements.
Thank you for your continuing interest in the Forrest Residents Group.