THE recently announced “City to the Lake” proposal will break down the barriers between Civic and the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.
The dramatic transformation of the area south of Civic is made possible by the Griffin Legacy amendments in the National Capital Plan.
Pedestrian access to Commonwealth Park, City Hill and the Lake will be improved by “traffic calming” of Vernon Circle and London Circuit and converting Parkes Way into a split-level “smart boulevard” lined with street cafes and shops.
Plans include a new Convention Centre to tempt Australian and international big business, a waterfront boardwalk and urban beach reminiscent of Brisbane’s South Bank and a new sports stadium. Between the Lake and Civic 20,000 new, inner-city residents are anticipated – a major contribution to Canberra’s population growth to half a million by 2030.
At the same time, the value of continuing developments should not be overlooked. Kingston Foreshore is well on its way to becoming Canberra’s premier setting for lakeside dining, but still needs to be fully realised.
The vision for Civic and the mid-city precinct including the Sydney and Melbourne Buildings should remain the overarching priority. Without a robust Civic master plan there is a risk that in the rush for new lakeside accommodation, the existing city will be abandoned, leaving behind half-empty office buildings and unresolved public spaces.
Catherine Carter is ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia.