Columnist MIKE WELSH reflects on another another seven days in the national capital
HAVE you visited the new public park next to Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and wondered what is planned for the car parks on the lake foreshore?
Or maybe you’ve heard people talking about West Basin but don’t know what is actually planned for the area?
The construction of Henry Rolland Park is the first stage in the improvement of West Basin foreshore being led by the City Renewal Authority. The authority was created last year to provide people-focused and design-led renewal of the heart of Canberra.
A major element of this work is the creation, in the city centre, of a new urban waterfront shaped by high-quality design, offering increased public access and amenity.
The City Renewal Authority is committed to creating a precinct that prioritises people. It will be a precinct with great design, attractive buildings and plenty of exceptional public space.
To start this process off on the right foot this new city location will have more than three hectares of lakeside public area: a mix of playgrounds, green spaces, urban plazas, walking and cycling paths, aquatic facilities and other public spaces.
These are being built first, ahead of any other development. Connecting the lake to the city centre is a non-negotiable element of improving public access. Private development will not begin until a solution has been agreed to bridge the barrier that is Parkes Way.
The ACT government’s ongoing planning for Parkes Way and Light Rail Stage 2 will heavily influence the decision about how the connections with Civic will be built and it is a fundamental element of the City Renewal Authority’s urban design vision for West Basin.
This project is not just a City Renewal Authority and ACT government priority, it is a planned development conceived by the Australian Government and controlled by the National Capital Plan.
The strict planning rules set in the plan’s West Basin Precinct Code state that development must “extend the city grid of streets and paths from city to West Basin, maintaining the connectivity and accessibility of the urban block pattern” and also “create a land bridge over a section of Parkes Way for streets to extend to the lake”.
The City Renewal Authority is already improving the lakeside public areas, starting with the next 500 metres of boardwalk, which realigns the lake edge to the Griffins’ original design. This is a superior place – making outcome for the city centre and is a National Capital Authority requirement for the area.
The next stage will see the creation of an urban park – a unified series of contemporary landscaped spaces the length of the basin foreshore. This will be a public environment Canberrans will use and be proud of. It will be a national attraction people will visit Canberra to see, and it will bring those people right into our city centre.
It is critical these new public spaces are woven into the form and fabric of Civic. The authority will begin this process by releasing land over the next two decades, progressively, from London Circuit down to the foreshore. Each release to the market will be guided by a comprehensive and exemplary place strategy.
West Basin will not be taken over by “high rise” buildings. The National Capital Plan allows for new buildings to a maximum of six storeys south of Parkes Way, with a maximum of four storeys permitted along the length of the new public areas.
Staged development between Civic and the lake over the next few decades is vital for our city as a whole. It will help us meet the housing needs for our growing population and will complete the intended city form to meet Lake Burley Griffin. This will create a better city centre, a city heart that is more appealing and more sustainable. It will be a new city neighbourhood and a destination people will enjoy for generations to come.
Malcolm Snow is the CEO of the City Renewal Authority.