Ringing a Bell For Peace

23 Feb 2018

With support from Canberra Town Planning, Canberra’s Nara Peace Park is home to a new symbol of world peace.

The Canberra Rotary Peace Bell offers a new place in the nation’s capital for people reflect on world peace.

Canberra Town Planning proudly provided planning services on this project. The World Peace Bell will provide a destination point within Canberra’s Nara Peace Park, and express the goodwill between citizens of Canberra, our sister city Nara in Japan, and the rest of the world.

The Canberra Rotary Peace Bell follows in the footsteps of the first World Peace Bell, donated by Chiyoji Nakagawa and the Japanese people to the United Nations in 1954.

Since then more than 20 peace bells have been donated by the World Peace Bell Association as symbols of prayer for world peace.

Canberra’s bell will be rung to mark special events, including World Peace Day on 21 September each year.

The Canberra Rotary Peace Bell was officially unveiled at Lennox Gardens’ Canberra Nara Peace Park on 23 February 2018.

Lease Variation Charge Deferred Payment Scheme

28 Feb 2018

The ACT Government is seeking to introduce changes to the timing of lease variation charge payments under the Planning and Development (Lease Variation Charge Deferred Payment Scheme) Amendment Bill 2018. The scheme would give developers the option to defer payment of lease variation charges (LVC) associated with augmenting their Crown lease.

Once LVC is deferred, the requirement to pay lease variation charges will be triggered by the earliest of the following events:

· when a certificate of occupancy is issued for part of the building work for the development to which the lease variation relates;
· when a certificate of occupancy is issued for all of the building work for the development to which the lease variation relates; or
· 4 years from the date of the lease variation

The ACT Revenue Office will be permitted to charge interest on deferred Lease Variation Charges.

The Bill can be viewed here.

Stimulus package

The Planning and Development (Remission of Lease Variation Charges—Economic Stimulus and Sustainability) Determination 2016 (No 1) expires on 6 March 2018.

This instrument provided remissions for lease variations undertaken in conjunction with a design and siting application, and additional remissions for developments incorporating sustainability and adaptable housing measures.

The ACT government have announced that the instrument will not be extended once it expires on 6 March. Further information on LVC remissions currently available for development proposals is located here.

What does this mean for developers?

While currently LVC must be paid prior to commencing development (typically within two years of receiving DA approval), the scheme would allow deferral of LVC payments until a later project stage thus reducing upfront funding requirements.

We recommend that developers consult with their legal and financial representatives on whether participation in the scheme is suitable for their objectives.

An expanding team and a new office for Canberra Town Planning

13 Mar 2018

Canberra Town Planning opens the doors on its new office in Lonsdale Street Braddon, as its team expands to become Canberra’s largest town planning consultancy.

After working together for more than a decade, directors Pieter van der Walt and Kip Tanner established Canberra Town Planning in 2015. Since then, their team has grown to 12.

Mr van der Walt has helped shaped cities in countries around the world, including South Africa, Southern Africa and Cyprus. His work includes strategic planning across a wide range of commercial, industrial mixed use and residential developments, as well as nationally significant transport and water infrastructure projects. He says Canberra Town Planning has a combination of deep experience, local knowledge and a commitment to inspiring solutions that “make Canberra great”.

“We are shaping Canberra – and our mission is to leave a positive legacy for the people of the nation’s capital,” Mr van der Walt says.

Mr Tanner, an environmental engineer whose career has evolved to encompass town planning, is passionate about sustainability. He has worked on major solar farm developments, significant recreational projects and large infill development projects. He continues to advocate for active travel improvements.

“Canberra has always been a place for innovative planning ideas. We have a massive opportunity to set new benchmarks for sustainable urbanism,” Mr Tanner says.

Two new associate directors have recently been appointed to the firm: Nichelle Jackson and Elizabeth Slapp.

An experienced town planner with qualifications in architecture, property economics and environmental management, Ms Jackson joins Canberra Town Planning with experience working on small and large-scale commercial, industrial, mixed use and residential projects.

“Canberra is poised to become a dynamic and innovative city teeming with cultural capital. I am excited to play a role influencing Canberra’s future,” Ms Jackson says.

Ms Slapp has worked across both public and private sectors in the delivery of planning advice and has developed a sound practical knowledge of planning systems across NSW and the ACT. Among Ms Slapp's recent projects are town planning services for Stockland's Willowdale community in Sydney, which will be home to 4,000 people.

“I’m thrilled to be working with a group of people who really care about Canberra and our clients, and to work on projects that matter to the people of the ACT and region,” Ms Slapp says.

Canberra Town Planning Associate Director Nichelle Jackson says we need to say ‘yes’ to loitering

23 Jul 2018

Last year, a group of New York teenagers performed an experiment. They wandered around a single block of the Bronx and photographed every sign warning them that they weren’t welcome.

“No loitering”, “no sitting”, “no playing” and “no minors” they were told. One shop refused to serve anyone wearing a hoodie, another cautioned that young people would be asked for ID, while a third proclaimed that groups of four or more people would be dispersed. One takeaway proprietor even placed a 15-minute time limit on teenagers eating chicken wings in the store.

“These signs not only show these business and property owners’ individual attitudes towards teens, they also imply a threat — ‘no loitering or else’,” wrote the six teenagers behind the ‘Yes Loitering’ project.

While Yes Loitering looked at New York through a teenager’s lens, the questions these budding urban planners raised made me wonder how we can create places in Canberra where loitering is OK.

A group of toddlers play, a group of adults catch up, but it seems only teenagers loiter. To loiter is to “to move slowly around or stand in a public place without an obvious reason” – but that is what many of us do when we are whiling away the hours with friends.

Young people use public spaces just as much as anyone else. But too often young people – and 24 per cent of Canberrans are under the age of 19 – aren’t included in the placemaking process, says Nichelle Jackson, an Associate Director with Canberra Town Planning.

Nichelle was raised in Canberra and remembers feeling overwhelmed by a “vast sea” of suburbs stretching out along the spine of the Tuggeranong Parkway, and the inaccessibility of Canberra’s design to car-free teens. “I grew up in Tuggeranong, and none of my friends lived nearby so more often than not I got the bus, rode my bike or walked the long way home,” she says.

After a few years studying architecture and property valuation in Sydney, Nichelle returned to Canberra. Since then, she’s carved out a reputation as a thoughtful and creative town planner.

“Having grown up here I’ve seen Canberra change a lot in my life,” Nichelle says. “And I’m excited about Canberra’s future. I want to be part of it, as I feel like I appreciate the context of this change.”

Nichelle remembers what it’s like to be a teenager at a loose end in Canberra, and says it’s not enough to invite young people to take part in community consultation which either doesn’t welcome them, or which ignores their ideas.

“The formal part of the discussion is owned by older generations in Canberra – but it’s not that young people aren’t interested. They just engage in different ways. A young person won’t write a four-page letter to the newspaper, which means their voices are often missing from the discussions about Canberra’s future.”

“We all need to work better on tools and methods to reach younger demographics,” she adds, pointing to a host of ideas, from pop up shops and flash mobs to Snapchat strategies.

Nichelle spends a lot of time on community consultation and has listened to young people share their vision for their city. “I think they want a city that is convenient to get around and offers a great lifestyle for them,” she says.

But those lifestyle aspirations are very different to what we grew up with. The average teenager now clocks up 1,200 a year on social media, according to a new report from the Australian Psychological Society. Why play chess in Garema Place when you can play Fortnite at home? Why catch up with friends in Commonwealth Park when you can tweet and text instead? These are the obstacles that city-shapers are up against, Nichelle adds.

“Parks and playgrounds are designed with small children and their parents in mind. But what about teenagers?” Nichelle asks.

With nothing to do, teenagers hang out in bus interchanges, shopping centres and the ubiquitous skate park – the default response from developers attempting to accommodate teenagers, despite just a quarter of children and teens actually participating in the activity.

So, what sort of space does encourage loitering?

Free Wifi is a given, but others include power points so that teens can charge their phones and play music, café-style seating or raised grass that encourages small groups to gather, outdoor cinemas and performance stages, chalkboards that spark artistic expression, mirrors for dance practice and outdoor gym equipment.

“One thing that I keep in mind when I read the reams of objections to any new project is that sometimes some people are defending old, inefficient tired developments which no longer serve their purpose. It’s important to understand and respect these views but to also bring a diversity of voices into the discussion.

Engaging with a broad range of people about Canberra’s future can help us create a better, more inclusive city with buildings that do serve their purpose. But to do that, we need to start asking young people what they think.”

This article first appeared in HerCanberra:

Nichelle Jackson recognised for Outstanding Achievement

21 Aug 2018

Congratulations to Canberra Town Planning Associate Director, Nichelle Jackson, who has been recognised for Outstanding Achievement at the National Association of Women in Construction ACT Awards held at the National Arboretum on August 21.


The NAWIC Awards recognise rising stars and established leaders in industry.

Canberra Town Planning Director, Pieter van der Walt, said:

“The team are thrilled that Nichelle has been recognised by industry.

“Nichelle possesses a unique skill set and impressive credentials, with formal qualifications in architecture, property economics and environmental management, that are highly valued by the team and by our clients.

“Nichelle has really grown in recent years to become a strong and highly regarded industry advocate. She has led significant development projects through development approval and as a result has been in a position to positively influence planning outcomes which has led to better outcomes for all stakeholders.

“Nichelle is, in fact, one of only a handful of skilled town planners in Canberra capable of providing strategic advice at all stages of the development cycle from inception and project feasibility to delivery of building post construction. She stands out as a strategic thinker that understands how to apply planning legislation, processes and provisions to facilitate outcomes that support project aspirations and implementation requirements.

“She also has a real passion for Canberra and the built environment. She wants the best outcomes possible for Canberra and the community.

“Nichelle is a leader, a thinker and someone who gets things done. We’re proud of Nichelle’s many accomplishments and to having her as part of the Canberra Town Planning leadership team.”

Expanding horizons for Canberra Town Planning

01 Sep 2018

Building on the success of Canberra Town Planning, and the demand for professional planning services in NSW, Canberra Town Planning has expanded with the establishment of two new businesses focused on providing balance, practical and relevant planning and environmental advisory services to clients in the Capital Region and NSW South Coast.

Headed by Associate Director Elizabeth Slapp and assisted by Robert Slapp, Capital Region Planning and South Coast Town Planning will provide due diligence and strategy advice, development assessment and approvals management services and strategic planning capability.

Elizabeth and Robert understand the intricacies of both government and the development sector, the multiple stakeholders and their often-conflicting views. This gives deep insight into project pinch points and opportunities, knowledge to deliver quality planning advice and the confidence to develop innovative and achievable planning outcomes.

With a vision to be the most innovative and trusted town planners in NSW, and with a team of dynamic and experienced professionals. Capital Region Planning and South Coast Planning are focused on providing a ‘value added’ service to our clients.

For further information please contact Elizabeth Slapp on 0457 786 776