Belconnen and Woden Building Heights Project

SGS was engaged by the Strategic Planning Division of the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate to provide input into provisions for building height controls to apply in the Belconnen and Woden Town Centres of Canberra. The project involved identifying appropriate and practical incentives that would allow developers to increase the maximum height and/or gross floor area (GFA) otherwise permitted for buildings in specified areas, in return for providing a higher standard of development.

The proposed criteria for the Belconnen and Woden Town centres included those relating to standards for environmentally sustainable development (ESD), urban design and impacts on the public domain, and the provision of different unit types.

SGS assessed each of the proposed criteria in terms of their practical applicability in the ACT context, and the cumulative effect of requiring developers to meet several of the different criteria. This included examining the existing building height and design controls in each town centre, existing requirements for adaptable housing units and minimum floor areas, and average construction costs and sale prices for multi-unit developments. This information was then used to estimate the likely additional costs to developers for meeting the criteria, determining the practicality of the proposed incentives scheme. SGS also considered relevant Australian and international case studies.

Based on this analysis, SGS recommended criteria based on expenditure on approved additional ESD benefits, expenditure on verge or on-site public realm improvements, or additional adaptable units above the minimum required, to qualify for additional GFA/building height to a specified maximum. Other criteria were also recommended for potential inclusion in the scheme at a later date.