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Federal Golf Club development: environmental aspects summary

Consideration of the proposal to develop an over 55s retirement village on the Federal Golf Course commenced in 2016.  Since that time, the proposal has changed greatly and been subject to exhaustive study and analysis by a very wide range of experts and has involved relevant Commonwealth and ACT Government environment and planning processes.  This consideration commenced with an ACT Government Community Panel process which then morphed into a much larger process of developing and adopting a Red Hill Integrated Plan.  Following this process the proposal was subject to environmental consideration by both the Commonwealth and ACT Governments.  The outcome of these considerations then led into ACT Government processes which resulted in variations being made to the Territory Plan.  The proposal is now subject to the ACT Government Development Application process.  All these steps have involved detailed consideration of the potential environmental impacts of the proposal on the important biodiversity found on the golf course and in the surrounding areas.   There has been a detailed focus on potential impacts on vegetation and importantly, threatened species and communities including the grassy woodland, the Gang-gang Cockatoo, and the Superb Parrot.  An important aspect of these processes has been close consultation with both the Federal Golf Club and the proponent Mbark to discuss and provide views on the mitigation of potential impacts to protect the biodiversity of the area.  I along with other Regenerators who have been involved in these exchanges with the FGC and Mbark have found them to be more than willing to take on board our suggestions and they have devoted a great deal of time, effort, and resources to avoid, mitigate and reduce potential environmental impacts of the proposed development.

I will now highlight some key aspects of the investigations and considerations that have been undertaken to date, with a particular focus on environmental matters.

  1. In 2022 a referral was made under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to determine if the proposal required Commonwealth assessment and approval.  The referral focussed on detailing and classifying native vegetation in the area, strategies to be employed to avoid impacts on high- value ecological areas, including grassy woodland, and habitat of importance to the superb parrot, the golden sun moth, and the Gang-gang cockatoo.  A great deal of detailed survey work was involved in the preparation of the referral, including detailed vegetation mapping, the location of hollow-bearing trees (HBTs) and surveys of the incidence of Superb Parrots and Gang-gang Cockatoos in the area.  The Commonwealth determined that the proposed development is not likely to have a significant impact on any matters of National Environmental Significance which includes those threatened species and ecological communities which I have mentioned.  
  1. In 2022 an Environmental Significance Opinion (ESO) was sought from the ACT Government.  A great level of ecological information was provided in the application which further investigated the potential impacts of the proposal on environmental matters covered by the ACT legislation. Importantly, this application provided more detail on avoidance of impacts, mitigation and environmental management commitments, the proposed inclusion of 10.4ha of the FGC lease area (containing grassy woodland) into the Red Hill Nature Reserve , hollow protection and relocation, and funding for research and monitoring activities, amongst others. The ACT Government assessment concluded that the proposed development is not likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact.
  1. The Development Applications recently submitted to ACTPLA include a detailed Environmental Report by Umwelt (2023).  The report deals with obligations in the ESO and outlines additional research completed, commitments made and reductions in potential environmental impacts resulting from further detailed design work. These include:
  • A reduction of about 10% in the total native vegetation likely to be impacted.
  • The survey of trees located over 600 HBTs on the golf course, with 120 HBTs identified in proximity to the development areas.  The number of HBTs to be impacted has been reduced from 20 to 17.  No Gang-gang nesting trees will be directly impacted.   This outcome was achieved through detailed design that prioritised mature and HBts in and around the development site. To achieve this reduction will result in a significantly more expensive build due to the use of retaining walls, earthworks to retain natural surface levels around key trees, specialised construction methods and inefficient siting of buildings.  Mbark consider that this financial cost is very worthwhile to achieve improved environmental outcomes.
  • 26 HBTs were subject to detailed inspection including the 17 HBTs proposed to be removed.  Stacey Taylor and Laura Rayner were involved in climbing these trees in order to measure their hollows to assess their potential for Gang-gang nesting. This enabled Mbark to design around trees of higher likely value to this species. Of the HBTs proposed to be removed, there are 3 hollows that meet all four hollow attributes with another 5 having nesting potential.  So, no more than 8 potential nesting trees will be removed from more than 600 HBTs on the golf course.  All the impacted hollows will be relocated on-site where salvageable.
  • Stringent works restriction periods have been proposed around the Gang-gang breeding season, both initially and on an ongoing basis.
  1. An Arborists Reports (2023) detail the impact each DA will have on specific trees. Over 2,500 trees were catalogued and assessed on site, with every single tree’s data shown in the annexed table to the arborists report.  A total of 358 trees are proposed to be removes, with 109 of these being of a regulated size.  The key point is that most of the trees to be removed are planted exotics and non-local eucalypts.  A detailed landscape plan has been prepared.  This plan involves the planting of locally endemic species, with a focus on re-establishing a more complex understorey and shrubby mid-layer.  This will enhance the existing high-quality arboreal habitat and canopy and provide more opportunities for smaller birds, reptiles, and mammals.

June 2024

Proposed Federal Golf Club Development

Red Hill Regenerators (RHR) supports the Red Hill Integrated Plan, which includes provision for an Over 55s retirement village at the southern end of Federal Golf Course and retention of an 18-hole golf course.

Development Applications for the planned Over 55s village development have been lodged with ACTPLA and are now open for public comment until Wednesday 20 March 2024. (more…)

Golf Club Over 55s village passes next milestone

 The planned Over 55s village development at the Federal Golf Club has passed a number of approval processes that required thorough vetting including: 

  • the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water decided that no approval was required under the EPBC Act as it was determined that the proposed development is not likely to have a significant impact on any matters of National Environmental Significance i.e., listed threatened species including the Superb Parrot, the Gang-gang Cockatoo and the Grassy Woodland; 
  • the ACT government provided an Environmental Significance Opinion that the proposed development is not likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact;
  • On 9 June 2023, the ACT Territory Plan was amended to provide for;
    • a 125-unit retirement village including an access driveway from Kitchener Street Garran;
    • the retention of an 18-hole golf course;
    • limiting the range of commercial uses on the golf course lease by excluding hotels, motels and further clubs; and 
    • requiring protection of the key ecological values on the site, which includes a raft of rules aimed at minimising the impact of the proposed development on trees, threatened species, wildlife corridors and the ecological values of the site.


Federal Golf Course lease variation community consultation 24 June and 5 August 2023

The Federal Golf Club is holding two community consultation meetings to provide information and seek feedback on a Concessional Lease Variation for a retirement village. More…

Red Hill Integrated Plan Variations: Comments close 25/11/22 and 2/12/22

Public comments have been invited on two draft Territory Plan Variations (TPVs) which deal with the implementation of the Red Hill Integrated Plan:

·      DV380 deals with Section 66 Kent Street Deakin and is open for public comments until Friday 25 November 2022.  

·      DV384 deals with the proposed Over 55s retirement village on the Federal Golf Club and is open for public comments until Friday 2 December 2022.  

Both draft TPVs involve important conservation initiatives.  The draft TPVs can be found online at      



Red Hill Integrated Plan public comments open

We have received the notification below of two Territory Plan Variations (TPVs) relating to the Red Hill Integrated Plan. One is for the area on Kent Street around the Telstra Building and the other is for the proposed development of the Over 55s residential village on the Federal Golf Club (FGC) together with the transfer of the unused section of the FGC lease to the Red HIll Nature Reserve. 

Both TPVs outline the next steps in the implementation of the Red Hill Integrated Plan, which the Red Hill Regenerators support – as outlined on our website at http://redhillregenerators.org.au/?p=3071 and   http://redhillregenerators.org.au/?cat=30


Federal Golf Club Retirement Village

The Federal Golf Club submitted on 18 May 2022 a proposal (No 2022-09201) to develop a retirement village and water infrastructure on the golf course. The proposal has been submitted to the Commonwealth Department of Water and the Environment for assessment to determine if the proposal is a controlled action for the purposes of the EPBC Act. Public comments are invited until 1 June 2022. More…

Documents in support of the submission are shown below:


Environment Minister Rebecca Vassarotti rejects community claims Federal Golf Course development plan puts rare birds at risk

Canberra Times Thursday 5 August 2021

A community petition has called on the Legislative Assembly to oppose housing development on the Federal Golf Course.

The ACT Environment Minister has rejected community claims a plan to allow development on the Federal Golf Course will damage breeding areas for the gang-gang cockatoo and superb parrot.

Rebecca Vassarotti said the plan, first flagged in 2019, provided the best way forward to protect key environmental values for the area, by limiting scale and location.

“It also enhances protection for biodiversity by recommending the expansion of the Red Hill Nature Reserve to currently unprotected woodland areas of high ecological value in the northern section at Deakin Section 66 and at the Federal Golf Club,” Ms Vassarotti said. (more…)

Red Hill Integrated Plan: Federal Golf Club proposed development

The Federal Golf Club has posted information online about the proposed development on their lease. This proposed development forms part of the Red Hill Integrated Plan. More…

Red Hill Regenerators supports the Red Hill Integrated Plan

The Red Hill Regenerators ParkCare Group supports the recently released Red Hill Integrated Plan, which provides the means to bring certainty to the protection and management of the Red Hill environment.  

The Plan is a well-researched, professional document that responds comprehensively to the Legislative Assembly Resolution from which it arose.  The Plan strikes a good balance between the important need to provide strong protection for biodiversity both inside and outside the Red Hill Nature Reserve, protecting the amenity of residents and allowing for some limited development activity. 

It provides an opportunity for adding several areas of woodland to Red Hill Reserve and limits development near Kent Street, Deakin to the existing built footprintThe Plan is a framework document that now requires a great deal of implementation activity, including funds, to deliver real outcomes.  We trust (and remain vigilant) that the coming years will bring to fruition the strategic, well informed vision of the Plan.

More information