The ACT Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects has expressed its disappointment with the ACT Government’s Draft Territory Plan Variation (DV343).

The ACT Government had released the draft policy earlier this year based on which the Institute recommended amendments that they believe would address the limited supply of a variety of housing types across the city and reduce the pressure for unsustainable urban sprawl. However, the DV343 Code has been issued by the Government with only minimal changes to the draft.

In April, 2014 the ACT Government listed some 1,022 properties that were affected by a loose fill asbestos insulation program undertaken between 1988-93. Those that were identified as having asbestos insulation are those now known as 'Mr Fluffy' houses and were/are slated for demolition by the Government. Owners of Mr Fluffy homes were eligible to apply for Buyback and Demolition concessions under the Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation Eradication Scheme and received market value for their homes (ignoring contamination) as well as other concessions. 

ACT Chapter President Andrew Wilson explains that the Mr Fluffy buyback scheme presents a rare opportunity to create innovative housing options for Canberra’s growing, ageing population while also supporting a sustainable future for the city. With the release of the DV343 Code, the Institute believes the Government has missed an important opportunity to deliver a long-term high quality design and sustainable planning policy for a growing and changing city.

Though Canberra needs alternative housing options to the traditional single dwelling, the DV343, while reducing the minimum allowable block size for dual occupancy, has also limited the plot ratio to 35 per cent, compared to a 50 per cent ratio for a single house.

The Government has also missed the opportunity to invest in master or precinct plans for groupings of Mr Fluffy sites. The Institute had recommended a quality design process involving neighbour consultation that would allow for concepts currently restricted by the Territory Plan.

The Institute urged the ACT Government to improve the DV343 Code to positively address urban change by providing varied housing options for all members of the community.