“How sustainable is it?” : Residents of Canberra’s northern fringe fear local services will grow alongside their suburbs

Varun Vashisht was one of the first residents to move into Canberra’s northern suburb of Taylor in 2018.

During this time, he saw the population of the suburbs explode around him.

“Certainly the houses have grown and the community has grown,” Mr Vashisht said.

“But services haven’t caught up.”

He said watching a community grow has been amazing, but the lack of equal growth of services in the area can make things cramped.

“There are so many people sharing the same space.”

Varun Vashisht was Taylor’s second resident and says he saw suburban homes get smaller and closer together.(ABC News: Isaac Nowroozi)

According to the latest demographic data, in 2020 the population of Taylor was 936, but locals say there has been a marked growth in the two years since.

Part of the reason people move to the area is because housing is slightly more affordable in North Gungahlin, compared to prices in other parts of the territory.

But Mr Vashisht said he felt people were crammed into townhouses or detached houses built very close together.

Taylor has a median block size of 426m2 – significantly below the ACT-wide average.

“I think the Suburban Land Agency needs to look into this; how much space do they give in a block? … How sustainable is that?”

The northern fringes – young and diverse

A man and a woman smile as they embrace.
Kwabena and Kate Ansah say supermarkets in the area have to serve so many people.(ABC News: Isaac Nowroozi)

Residents of the northern suburbs of Gungahlin, including Taylor, Casey and Moncrieff, tend to be younger than other Canberrans and are also more likely to be from South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

A young couple who live in the area are Kate and Kwabena Ansah.

The couple are currently renting as they build their first home in Taylor, but say they are worried about the lack of services.

For example, Ms. Ansah said she would prefer to have a supermarket in the suburb where she lived.

She said it was becoming a problem because the two centers served a lot of people.

Ms Ansah wondered how sustainable the situation would be as more and more people settled in the area.

“It gets busier very quickly,” she said.

“They’re building developments on both sides of Taylor, and we’re running out of time.”

The roofs of houses with a hill in the background.
Residents of Canberra’s northern fringe say services are not growing alongside population.(ABC News)

The tale of two suburbs

Development of Casey – the oldest of the new northern suburbs – began in 2008, with the first residents moving in in 2010.

According to the latest available data, the suburb is home to 6,819 people and more than 30% of the population is under 15 years old.

While, like Taylor, the suburb’s median age is also younger than the ACT average, it has slightly larger block sizes than its neighboring suburb and also has a relatively large mall with many amenities. .

Katrina Burgers has young children and moved to Casey almost a decade ago – when bigger houses on bigger blocks were still relatively affordable.

A blonde woman in a purple sweater smiles.
Casey resident Katrina Burgers says as more land in the suburbs is developed into high-density housing, the area has started to feel cramped.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

She said the area had everything she needed.

“With Casey, it’s quiet and it’s nice to go down to the stores, which are really close,” she said.

“There’s a school bus, and the school is really close.”

But Ms Burgers said there wasn’t much vacant land left in Casey and as the population grew she also felt people were being crowded.

“Casey doesn’t have much land left,” she said.

“But the apartments they just put up as you walk in – there’s a lot in there.”

The roofs of the houses.
Gungahlin’s population has nearly reached its predicted peak of 90,000.(ABC News)

Gungahlin’s Growing Pains

Gungahlin is no longer the fastest growing fringe of Canberra – the Molonglo Valley in south-west Canberra the east.

So the expansion of Canberra’s northernmost city centre, which is currently home to more than 85,000 people, is nearing completion, with the population expected to peak at around 90,000.

But the demographic boom of the last two decades has left behind it growth difficulties, in particular that of most residents of Gungahlin have to leave the city center to go to work.

Earlier this year, a potential solution emerged: a major federal department, Defense Housing Australia, moved into its new offices in Gungahlin, which was promised by Liberal ACT Senator Zed Seselja.

Job , updated

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