OVER recent months, article after article has been published about new, exciting and controversial developments for our great city.
However, it’s always met with the same response; “no, no, no”.
No to developments in our suburbs, such as Curtin, Forrest or Campbell; no to developments in our dying town centres, and certainly no to developments in Canberra’s most neglected and suffering area – the CBD.
A similar group of locals even oppose new government infrastructure as well as industrial development in industrial areas. Absurd, I know!
As a city we cannot expect better services and businesses to thrive when we don’t want to move into the 20th, let alone 21st century.
My background growing up in small business tells me that in areas where businesses are closing or there are vacant properties, such as in Garema Place, the simple solution is to increase the density of apartments, hotels and offices in the area.
I believe that the ACT government’s fresh push for city renewal is long overdue.
However, it can only improve so much, such as new footpaths or street lights. Developers, small and large, are left to do the rest.
We should focus more on the design and amenity of new buildings, ensuring there are enough green areas, construction is highly sound, the building is as environmentally friendly as possible and, most importantly, that it is aesthetically pleasing.
The way to ensure that developments are economically viable so that they meet this criteria, is to remove height limits in our town centres and our CBD.
I concede tall buildings cast shadows, but for the greater good of our city, we require it. Taller buildings mean more people are living and working in our town centres, which accounts for more public transport use, fewer cars on the road and increased small business success.
When density is high, the “dark and gloomy” parts of urban centres become transformed into vibrant and lively precincts.
I call on the government and the opposition to wake up, to persist and to do not only the best but the most environmental and logical thing for our city; considerably increase the density in both our CBD and our town centres. This planning change coupled with government infrastructure spending will hopefully protect significant amounts of empty, greenfield land as a natural habitat for thousands of animals, as well as to keep high-rise development out of the suburbs so as to maintain our bush-capital principle and, most importantly, to keep our great city’s heart vibrant and beating for many years to come.
John-Paul Romano (@johnpauldromano) is an 18-year-old Canberra entrepreneur and founder of The PURE Network (thepurenetwork.com).