GUNDAROO VISION PLAN
It is a great pleasure to be asked to write the foreword for the Gundaroo Vision Statement. Two features of it are of great interest to me.
Firstly, the residents of this small heritage village have chosen to plan for their future using a sustainable development framework. This places Gundaroo at the cutting edge of planning around the world as, increasingly, governments, communities and individuals are realising that unless we plan for a future in which environmental and social concerns are fully integrated with economic activity, we will compromise the quality of our lives in the future.
We can no longer accept the often unaccounted for costs of past activities such as polluted air, species loss, land degradation or communities undermined.
The people of Gundaroo have ensured the proper evaluation of proposals for the village’s future by developing sustainable development ‘screens’ to test them. In addition they have provided a list of imaginative actions to be undertaken to make Gundaroo a more socially, environmentally and economically vibrant community.
The second point of interest to me was that this plan was developed, written, published and implemented, entirely by the community itself, without outside support or funding. It is an impressive achievement and demonstrates what an impressive range of skills there are in this small village. As the Plan points out, there was such an enthusiastic attendance at the four planning workshops, it was the equivalent of a turnout of 30,000 people to a similar exercise in Canberra.
I hope this and similar planning in many other communities around Australia will see a transformation in the way we live and relate to the world around us and that sustainable development, often described, can finally become a reality.
Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage.
Gundaroo and its surrounding district have great historical significance. It has been the tribal lands of the Ngunawal people since time immemorial and a rich part of early European heritage since settlement commenced in 1825.
It is part of the Southern Tablelands comprising gentle downs, rising steeply to hills of approximately 900 metres. Rising to the east is dry sclerophyl forest and native grasslands retaining biodiversity through corridors of valuable vegetation. The area is a mixture of productive grazing and agricultural lands, punctuated by small rural villages.
The village of Gundaroo is a rare example of a settlement of 19th century vintage with many of its old buildings intact and its original rural setting preserved. Many people have been attracted to live here, drawn by its rich agricultural lands, its old village charm, its natural beauty and its easy accessibility to Canberra.
The Gundaroo Community Association (GCA) has a long history of reacting to major development proposals in an ad hoc and piecemeal way, which has on occasions resulted in difficulties and divisions within our usually friendly and harmonious community.
In September 1998, therefore, the GCA proposed the development of a sustainability plan for the village and its surrounds. This was done partly in response to a series of development proposals, which had wide-ranging consequences for the area and its residents. Such proposals had previously been dealt with as they arose, rather than on any coherent and integrated basis. It was also partly to do with issues posed by the publication of the ACT & Sub-Region 1998 Planning Strategy and the proposal by Gunning Shire Council to revise the Local Environment Plan especially in regard to its rural residential plan. Both have significant implications for our community. The ACT & Sub-Region 1998 Planning Strategy, in particular, invites active, community-based plans such as this one when it says:
There will be well established processes to ensure widespread and effective community participation in strategic planning, land development and resource allocation decisions. This will promote a high degree of community ‘ownership’ of these decisions and satisfaction with outcomes.And later,
Continued community involvement in the implementation of the Strategy is an important feature of the Strategy. This may include the development of individual or joint Local Environmental Plans for Councils or issue-specific policies which may apply to the entire region, or to a small part of it.Therefore to respond to the ACT & Sub-Region Plan and as a response to a suggested Rural/Residential Strategy by the Gunning Council and other controversial proposals around mid 1998, a new and proactive approach to achieving community consensus about our future was undertaken. Formulation of an open community plan has not been a simple process. Over these last twelve months the vast majority of the community of Gundaroo has contributed in some way to the workshops, the survey, the working groups and the research that has been essential to the success of achieving broad consensus. It is the purpose of this Plan to mesh with the Sub-Region Strategy and to address the issues it presents within the same general framework and to apply the same principles. By so doing, the Gundaroo Plan provides a comprehensive vision of the sort of community which we, the residents, would like to see in coming decades in critical areas such as the environment, social and heritage matters and the economy.
Not everyone in the community will agree with every single idea and proposal included in this Vision Plan. This is due to the fact that we are a diverse and committed community with diverse interests and aspirations. However, what this report does represent is a consensus of Gundaroo’s future wishes and aspirations as we move into the next millennium.
The Plan gives a sense of the core attributes which attract people to live here and the actions the community has identified as necessary to preserve, protect, enhance or change things. Many of these actions the community will undertake itself, such as the clean up of litter from streets and roads in the Plan area, but others will require the assistance of government, local, state or national. One goal, securing the Police Paddock as public open space, is a good example of this.
The Plan deals specifically with the key issue of rural residential subdivision, which is a pressing concern for those who live in the area. It is our intention that it will heavily influence governments in the decisions they take affecting this community. In particular, we hope the Gunning, Yass and Yarrowlumla Shires and the State Government draw extensively on the document when dealing with the Plan Area. The Community Association will promote the actions outlined in the document and advocate its goals, as a clear articulation of community views.
This Vision Plan is not ‘fixed’ in time, and can only be an expression of the views of those who contributed to its creation, at the time it was created. The Gundaroo Community Association plans to periodically review and update the Plan in light of future challenges, opportunities and attitudes.
The GCA is grateful to Anita Fitton for designing the front cover and to Mildred and Bob Kirk of Brolga Press for their editorial and publishing contributions. The Vision Plan could never have happened without the strong support and participation of members of the Gundaroo Community and the members of the Working Groups who were responsible for drafting the many versions of sections of the report. To all of these I give my thanks. Finally, my thanks go also to our independent voluntary facilitator, Kevin Keeffe, whose assistance was essential in helping us achieve the first stages in this process in a democratic and humorous way.
Gundaroo Community Association