Construction of new station Charnwood underway
The new ambulance and fire station being built by Manteena Pty Ltd is well underway. It is anticipated that the station will be completed by the final quarter of 2013.
New station for Charnwood confirmed
The ACT Government recently announced funding for the construction of a combined ambulance and fire station in Charnwood. It is anticipated that construction will commence in the last quarter of 2012.
ESA proposes draft variations to the Territory Plan
The ESA recently submitted Planning Reports to the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate (ESDD) for the purpose of seeking a variation to the Territory Plan to enable the development of new stations in Aranda and Calwell/Conder. The ESDD is currently conducting a public consultation process in relation to the proposed draft variations to the Territory Plan. The draft variations (315 for Aranda and 316 for Calwell/Conder) and the ESA’s Planning Reports are available for review on the ESDD website.
Claims made on the ‘Save Aranda Oval’ website
The ‘Save Aranda Oval’ website was created late in January 2012 after the ESA’s initial formal community consultation period in relation to the proposal to develop a colocated ambulance and fire station at the site in Bardi Place.
Some claims made on this website are erroneous and misleading. These include:
Claim: “The Government plans to move fire and ambulance stations from central Belconnen to the Aranda ovals”.
Fact: The proposal is to colocate ambulance and fire at a new station in Bardi Place, adjacent to Aranda playing fields NOT to the Aranda ovals as stated on the website. The proposed indicative footprint as shown below, will have minimal impact on the playing fields. The ‘Save Aranda Oval’ website graphically suggests that an entire section of the large urban open space of the playing field will be affected. The reality is, as shown below, that the proposed site will affect less than 0.5% of the playing field area, and even that tiny portion is more accurately described by Sport and Recreation as being ‘ancillary oval surrounds’ rather than ‘playing fields’.
In terms of technical details, the playing fields are part of the land identified as Block 24, Section 1 Aranda. The total area of Block 24 is approx. 130,000m2 (including treed borders); this does not include the current car park in Bardi Place or the road reserves along Belconnen Way and Bindubi Street. The total area of irrigated playing surface is approximately 67,000m2. The proposed station site extends across approximately 240m2 of ancillary oval surrounds, this equates to less than 0.2% of the total urban open space, and is wholly outside the irrigated playing fields. The proposed station may have a small impact on a junior baseball training area/wet weather contingency diamond (used infrequently); the ESA is in discussions with the Bandits Baseball Club.
The existing car park in Bardi Place will need to be relocated, and the ESA is working closely with Territory and Municipal Services to develop options that will improve current parking arrangements and have low or no impact on the playing fields themselves. These options will also be made available for community feedback.
Claim: “The oval serves as the healthy green heart of Cook, Macquarie, Aranda, South Bruce and Belconnen.”
Fact: The Aranda playing fields are one of many public playing fields in the Belconnen area, as shown in the map below. The map below shows the distribution of public playing across the Belconnen area. As indicated above, the ESA proposal will only impact upon a tiny proportion (less than 0.5%) of the Aranda playing fields. The Aranda playing fields will continue to be the ‘healthy green heart’ of Cook, Macquarie, Aranda, South Bruce and Belconnen. Only a very small proportion of the ancillary oval surrounds (grassed area) next to the playing field would be affected by the proposed development of a colocated ambulance and fire station.
Above – An aerial map distribution of public playing fields in Cook, Macquarie, Aranda, South Bruce and Belconnen. The playing fields are highlighted in yellow.
Claim: The ‘Save Aranda Oval’ website has a general subheading of “The proposed land grab”. It claims that “The plan is a bad precedent: a land grab to fix bungled planning” which also “risks the long-term future of the ovals.”
Fact: The reality is, as shown above, that the proposed site will affect less than 0.5% of the Aranda playing fields. The ESA is not proposing to rezone the area outlined on the graphic above, rather it is proposing to seek a variation to the Territory Plan to insert an additional clause in the respective Development Table for the current zones for the station perimeter footprint only. The additional clause that the ESA proposes would only permit the development of the site for an emergency services facility, in addition to the existing land uses already permitted in those specific zones. Initial feedback to the ESA from sporting groups and near neighbours of the site, suggests that the 24 hour presence of a station may in fact improve public safety and reduce property damage in the vicinity. This has been particularly welcomed by the Bandits Baseball Club which has experienced significant loss in the past as the result of vandalism of their facilities.
The proposal to colocate ambulance and fires services on the site is part of a forward thinking and comprehensive Strategy to enhance emergency service provision across the ACT. The Station Upgrade and Relocation Strategy is all about increasing and improving the network of ambulance and fire stations to better service the needs and expectations of the ACT community now and well into the future. The Strategy will ultimately help save more lives, property and the environment.
Claim: “The area is legally zoned as playing fields”.
Fact: Only a small part of the proposed ESA development would affect the ancillary oval surrounds at the edge of the existing playing fields. The majority of the proposed site will include the existing car park in Bardi Place and some unused land zoned as road reserve. As shown graphically above, the proposed site will on take up less than 0.5% of the Aranda playing fields, which fall within the zone called Urban Open Space. There is no specific zoning for “playing fields”. The ESA proposal to seek a variation to the Territory Plan will be subject to all of the standard transparent statutory review and consultation processes.
Claim: “The near neighbours to the proposed emergency station…will hear sirens day and night….”
Fact: Both the Ambulance and Fire Service have internal guidelines outlining the sensible use of sirens when responding to emergencies (and also taking patients with serious injuries/illness urgently to hospital). Generally speaking sirens are infrequently used when ambulance or fire vehicles leave a station. ESA services are conscious of being good neighbours. When leaving a station in response to an emergency, wherever possible particularly at night, ESA vehicles use their lights rather than sirens. Sirens are most often used to clear a path to ensure fast and safe passage in traffic. Roads are far less congested at night, so sirens are used much less frequently. Understandably, there are situations where the use of sirens is necessary either to get to an emergency quickly and safely through traffic, or sadly when someone is seriously injured or ill and requires urgent medical attention in a hospital setting.
Claim: “A local plus is that nearby suburbs could expect quicker attendance by fire and ambulance than the rest of Belconnen”
Fact: The proposal to locate ambulance and fire services at the site in Bardi Place is part of a comprehensive Canberra wide strategy to improve community safety through the strategic location of stations across the city. It is erroneous and misleading to generally claim that some suburbs would have better responses than others. This is simply inaccurate and not based on fact. The Greater Belconnen area will have two colocated ambulance and fire stations at Aranda and Charnwood but as is the case across the city emergency service vehicles can be tasked to respond anywhere in the ACT.
The ACT has significantly changed since many of the locations and sites of emergency services were originally planned and developed over 40 years ago. Canberra’s population and urban footprint is now very different and will continue to change significantly over the coming decades. This change to the urban environment poses major challenges for emergency services in terms of saving lives, property and the environment.
It is proposed to move the ambulance and fire & rescue stations from the existing location in Lathlain Street, Belconnen, because these sites and stations are no longer fit for purpose. All new stations are, where possible, being sited on or very close to major arterial roads to facilitate rapid, multi-directional emergency response.
A rigorous, scientifically based and operationally informed site selection process identified the proposed site in Aranda for colocation of a new ambulance and fire station. The locations for emergency services are strongly interrelated and the movement of just one location affects the coverage performance of all other locations.