Project status: Open

How to have your say

Over 8 weeks from 12 September to 7 November 2019 the ACT Government is asking for your thoughts on the concept designs for Common Ground Dickson, to be located at 8 Hawdon Place, Dickson (Block 25 Section 72).

How you can share your feedback on the concept designs:

  • Log in and comment using the Plans and Feedback tab above
  • Email us at housingactrenewal@act.gov.au
  • Talk to us at a range of drop-in sessions

If you, or someone you know, would like to contribute to the discussion but can’t participate in any of the ways listed above due to accessibility issues or other restrictions, please let us know by calling Access Canberra on 13 22 81 and we will help.

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Throughout 2018, the ACT Government held many discussions with the local community and leaseholders about future plans for Section 72 Dickson. The conversations looked at how Section 72 could continue to support the community, enhance the area and deliver the ACT Government commitments for urban renewal and Canberra’s second Common Ground.

The Common Ground housing model supports people to move directly from homelessness into permanent housing and follows through with the support they need to stay housed, to improve their connections to health, education and employment, and to live independently with stability.

Common Ground in Gungahlin provides 40 one-bedroom units for a mix of people, including low income renters and those who have experienced homelessness.

The design for Common Ground Dickson is different to the Gungahlin model in that the 40 units will comprise a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom homes to allow for greater flexibility of tenants, including families. The designs include a mix of 20 x 1 bedroom units, 12 x 2 bedroom units and 8 x 3 bedroom units, all Class C Adaptable.

The site in Dickson is currently zoned CZ6: Leisure and Accommodation which does not allow for residential development on the block. Development of Common Ground Dickson on Block 25 Section 72 Dickson requires a variation to the Territory Plan. DV367 seeks to rezone Block 25 to CFZ: Community Facility zone to facilitate development of the Common Ground housing model. The variation to the Territory Plan has a separate, statutory consultation process, with members of the public able to provide comment. For more information, visit the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate’s Draft Variations web page.

For more information on The Common Ground model and the proposed development, including changes to the site, please see the FAQ tab.


Throughout 2018, the ACT Government held many discussions with the local community and leaseholders about future plans for Section 72 Dickson. The conversations looked at how Section 72 could continue to support the community, enhance the area and deliver the ACT Government commitments for urban renewal and Canberra’s second Common Ground. They identified planning opportunities and challenges and captured community aspirations for the future of the area. Feedback[1] was received through various engagement activities, such as workshops, information kiosks, ‘Meet the Planners’ sessions, emails, presentations to the local community and interactive online maps on YourSay. A number of themes and priorities emerged from these discussions, including:

  • Residential uses: there was broad support for sustainable, supportive and community housing, co-housing, public housing and housing for people to age in place.
  • Active travel: the community wanted to see walking and cycling prioritised over cars, as well as better walking and cycling infrastructure and connections into and through the site.
  • Community facilities and inclusive communities: some people wanted to see existing community facilities protected and enhanced for current and future populations, specifically older and younger generations, and people experiencing disadvantage. People also wanted to see commercial spaces, such as cafes. Suggestions highlighted that the area had potential to serve the broader community and could easily be enhanced to make it a more community-friendly place where people can just ‘hang out’.
  • Green space and urban amenity: we heard that the trees and landscape characteristics should be protected while providing more active and creative spaces, such as playgrounds, parks, community gardens and a central meeting point for social interaction. Section 72 lessees suggested plans to improve interfaces between existing and future facilities to improve integration, activate green space and create safer places and high-quality urban amenity.
  • Density: key themes heard during engagement related to integrating development into the landscape and tree line of the precinct (‘City in the Landscape’ character), preferably low-rise, medium density development with active interfaces to public spaces.
  • Safety and Security: some concerns were raised about anti-social behaviour in the area, including vandalism of buildings and some physical attacks due to the under-utilisation of areas within the precinct and an associated lack of ‘eyes on the street’ and activity.

In response to the community feedback, the ACT Government’s Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) began drafting an Estate Development Plan (EDP) that incorporated feedback to date to inform the next stage of engagement.

EPSDD has advised the community that engagement around broader design plans for Section 72 Urban Renewal is on hold until the future of Block 22 is resolved. A community reference group is proposed to be established to build on what has been heard so far and provide further guidance on the planning and infrastructure for the broader Section 72 Dickson.

For more information on the plans for the broader Section 72 precinct, please visit Your Say Section 72.

[1] Dickson Section 72 Community Engagement Report – Stage 1; July 2018

Plans and feedback

How the concept designs for Common Ground Dickson have incorporated feedback

The brief for Common Ground Dickson incorporated community and stakeholder design feedback from 2018 heard during Section 72 discussions about design principles and desired outcomes for the area, and included:

  • communal spaces that integrate into the broader area
  • private areas for residents to use
  • the creation of a public plaza to the northwest of the block (to facilitate a future central ‘heart’ for Section 72)
  • a community garden/green space and green links where others in the neighbourhood are welcome to come and play and participate in the space
  • a social hub, which may be used for a café or similar, has been located on the south-west corner of the building, adjacent to the Sullivan’s Creek connection which is accessible via the active travel paths and opens the space up to invite the broader community in
  • few south-facing living spaces or windows to acknowledge Dumaresq Street residents’ concerns about possible overlooking
  • passive surveillance opportunities throughout the building
  • resident safety through secure and private entries for residents
  • an opportunity for a community mural on one of the south-facing façade walls.

A key concern heard throughout community feedback opportunities was the proposed six-storey heights.

To allow for future roads, retention of trees and easements, the developable area of the block has been reduced by 40% from 6,968m2 to 4,234m2. In order to achieve the mix of 40 one, two and three-bedroom units as well as the green spaces and community spaces within the reduced block boundary, the design has a six-storey element running north-south of the block. Positioning the tallest element along a north-south axis means that residents can have an ideal vista, with views out to Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie towards the east and Black Mountain to the West, with balconies positioned to make the most of the solar orientation.

The majority of the building sits below the height of the trees running alongside Sullivan’s Creek, which combined with the 75 metres from the nearest house, means there is a natural buffer and minimal overlooking across Sullivan’s Creek. The remainder of the building ranges between two to four storeys, maintaining a predominantly two-storey scale to the south (with no south facing units above level 1). This allows for a stepped-down design that also ensures some visual interest from the street and meets the desire for lower levels on the outer areas of the development.

Site works and infrastructure upgrades to the site

Some new infrastructure and site servicing works will be required to enable a new development on Block 25 Section 72, Dickson. This includes:

  • Roads to the north and south boundaries of Block 25 - The concept design for Common Ground Dickson proposes that the roads will be built to the boundary of the block, with turning heads until such time as the rest of Section 72 is developed. This enables access to the site and some on-street parking for Common Ground Dickson, and allows for any plans to continue the through-roads as part of any future upgrades to the Section.
  • Traffic and parking - A traffic impact assessment indicates that a development of this size (40 units) would not in isolation trigger the need to upgrade the Hawdon Place/Antill Street intersection.
  • Relocation of overhead power lines and power substation - Based on advice from Evoenergy, the existing overhead lines and substation will be relocated to the outside of the site.

Before any works start on the site, an ‘unexpected finds protocol and asbestos management plan’ will be developed. Note also that any upgrades to cycle and pedestrian paths are outside the scope of Common Ground Dickson.


The site is located close to the Dickson Town Centre, public transport, schools, community facilities and employment hubs, which makes it a suitable site for urban renewal.

site map - Common Ground Dickson

Check out the concept plans and share your feedback on the development. Please note your username is made public when you make a comment.

18 September, 2019

JS65 says:

“ACT communist goverment imposing rates of $4,000 - I am not inclusive or welcoming of public housing.”

18 September, 2019

GeoffF66 says:

“The aquatic centre should be expanded and modernised to all-year facilities, with a gym added.”

18 September, 2019

GeoffF66 says:

“Consideration should be given to building an indoor swimming pool to compliment the existing outdoor pool, so kids can learn to swim.”

18 September, 2019

GeoffF66 says:

“6 storeys is still to much for this sister and out of character with the area. The dwellings nearby will be shaded.”