Let's be the coolest little capital 

Meeting with members of the property sector in Canberra, their passion and commitment to creating spaces that contribute to our city is infectious.

And when you look at some of the marquee projects around town - big and small - there is an inventive curiosity rare in most other cities.

This is an asset in our community, and when you get prominent experts like Vancouver planner Larry Beasley highlighting our local developments as exemplars last week, the ACT property sector is doing something right.

The ongoing city-building agenda has endorsement from the Chief Minister, who is keen to shift "Canberra's place on the global map from a cool capital, to the coolest little capital city in the world".

Safe to say, the community wants this, the planning authorities understand this at a high-level, and the property sector is ready to support this.

For once, the settings are such that we can stop talking in terms of 'planning' and 'development' as if they are somehow in conflict with the community's vision for our city.

By defining the situation in such limited terms, we allow a range of other regulators, service providers, and stakeholders to opt out of delivering the community's vision.

There is a raft of subordinate legislation, regulations, codes, standards and practices that are rooted in the business as usual conventions of the past. These and the mindsets that enforce them need to be realigned with the new city-building agenda.

The role of place-making and place-telling will have greater prominence as our city develops. This involves creating with the greater community in mind, which should not be undermined by narrow self-interest.

In the government's City Plan, the then Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said  "one of the strongest messages we heard was - just get on with it". Clearly there is strong unity of purpose between government and the community.

The property sector supports this position - more importantly, it is prepared to make enduring investments in our shared city vision. So why aren't we just getting on with it?

First published in The Age, 16 April 2016