Development footprint pushed back in response to community concern
Bluetts Block-Piney Ridge is a special place for many reasons. First, it is home to incredibly diverse woodlands. These woodlands are home to over 100 plant species, including the endemic Black Mountain Leopard Orchid; as well as rare marsupial populations of Dunnart and Antechinus. Bluetts Block-Piney Ridge is also a birding hotspot providing habitat for many of Canberra’s woodland birds – which we know are facing a steep decline. Birds such as the Scarlet Robin, Flame Robin, Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, Varied Sittella, White-winged Triller, Speckled Warbler, Dusky Woodswallow, Diamond Firetail, and Double-barred Finch have all been found at the site. Bluetts Block-Piney Ridge also provides foraging and nesting habitat for the endangered Superb Parrot and Gang-gang Cockatoo.
The second reason that Bluetts Block-Piney Ridge is so special is that it has brought together an eclectic community of nature lovers who are committed to its protection. A community campaign led by Jean Casburn and Alice Wells has gathered almost 1000 supporters on Facebook, pushed a petition through the Legislative Assembly with over 700 signatures, and prompted many more people to make submissions opposing a proposed development on part of the site. It is this development that we are talking about today.
In 2013 planning for Denman Prospect was confirmed in all but one area. That area was Block 12, part of Bluetts Block-Piney Ridge. Decision-making for the area had been “deferred” presumably due to its environmental values. In 2022 an application was made public by Capital Estate Developments for this deferred area. It proposed to build over large swathes of woodland pushing the Denman Prospect development footprint deep into the boundary of Bluetts Block-Piney Ridge as shown below.
In response to this application, the very special community that are fighting for the site’s protection rallied together to write submissions opposing the proposal. Despite the tight deadline many submissions were made and this week we have seen the fruits of this labour as Capital Estate Development have revealed their revised plans as shown above.
These revised plans are a huge win in the fight to protect Bluetts Block -Piney Ridge. The development footprint has been more than halved and the direct impact on remnant trees has been eliminated. While we are still a ways away from reaching our goal of having the whole site placed into reserve this outcome represents a positive step toward the protection of Bluetts Block-Piney Ridge.
This isn’t the end of the story by any means. We will continue to fight for the protection of the whole site and will continue to push Capital Estate Developments so that any development near Bluetts Block-Piney Ridge is as environmentally savvy as possible. This proposal is far from perfect and in the coming months we will call upon the passionate friends of Bluetts Block- Piney Ridge to make submissions on it. But what this does represent is the immense power of community to make change and that should give us all hope.
Congratulations to everyone that has been working to protect Bluetts Block-Piney Ridge, we may not be there yet but this is an important win toward our vision.
– Peta Bulling