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ACT government sets up community panel to progress housing development at Red Hill golf course

Canberra Times 3 August 2017

The ACT government has set up a panel to progress the Federal Golf Club’s plans for 125 homes and a new clubhouse with gym on part of its golf course at Red Hill.

The panel, including government, community, environmental and business groups, as well as the club and developer, meets on Thursday, August 3.
The location of the federal golf club housing proposal in Canberra from a 2016 brochure. The club wants to build 125 ...The location of the federal golf club housing proposal in Canberra from a 2016 brochure. The club wants to build 125 homes and a new clubhouse with gym. No updated plans have been released.

The club is yet to submit a development application but acting deputy director-general of the planning directorate Brett Phillips said the panel would “investigate options for development” and pointed to previous concerns about the vegetation and the appropriateness of residential development.

The golf club will be asking the government to waive or discount the lease variation tax the multi-million proposal will attract.It wants to build 125 homes aimed at over 55s, with a new club house, swimming pool, gym and places to socialise.

Previous reports said the Red Hill site would be accessed via Gowrie Drive, which leads to the Red Hill lookout, and could involve a second access road from Garran, but the club could not be reached for details of its proposal this week.

Mr Phillips, who chairs the panel, said it was designed to ensure both the government and the developer understood and considered community concerns.

Federal Golf Club manager Scott Elias at the club at Red Hill, where there are plans to build 125 homes.Federal Golf Club manager Scott Elias at the club at Red Hill, where there are plans to build 125 homes. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The news comes after the golf club defected in recent weeks from Clubs ACT to a new clubs industry group favoured by Chief Minister Andrew Barr, saying the new group had the ear of the government and could help push the development through. A spokesman for Mr Barr said on July 12 the club was wrong to think it would get  better treatment in planning or lease variation tax by joining the new clubs group.

In 2015, the club discussed plans to build about 70 three-bedroom villas on a disused fairway east of the 14th fairway overlooking the golf course, and another 70 two-bedroom apartments near the club house.

In October 2015 the club signed an agreement with developer MBark, which would be given a 99 year peppercorn lease. In mid 2016 club members voted on the plan. The club cited the major benefit as the ability to upgrade water supply and build underground water storage, saying the issue was critical, with the future of the golf course at risk.

It said the development would bring in $18 million for the club, and the homes would also increase activity and membership, and enable the club to increase playability and presentation of the golf course.

The plan has been strongly opposed by the Red Hill Regenerators, whose conservation officer Michael Mulvaney said in 2015 that there had been seven attempts at developing the fringe of Red Hill Nature Reserve, a development that would mean the removal of 300 native trees and endanger wildlife. More recently, parliamentarian Caroline Le Couteur said the Greens had significant concerns.

The new panel is made up of the club, developer MBark, the National Capital Authority, the ACT Government architect, heritage representatives, the Conservation Council of the ACT, the Friends of Grasslands, the Red Hill Regenerators, three local residents groups, the Inner South Canberra Community Council, the Council on the Ageing and the Canberra Business Chamber.