Carter / Staying ahead of urban decay

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IN less than a decade, a forgotten corner of Canberra’s CBD has become one of Australia’s most memorable new neighbourhoods. The transformation of NewActon from windswept to wonderful serves as a reminder that change can happen – and it can happen relatively quickly.

Catherine Carter.
Catherine Carter.
Urban renewal is vital to the future of Canberra’s economic and social wellbeing, which is why the ACT Government has made it a priority for 2015.

Unfortunately, urban decay is fast becoming a feature of our city centre. The office vacancy rate across Canberra increased from 13.6 per cent to 15.4 per cent over the last six months making it the second highest rate of any capital city and the highest office vacancy rate on record.

Urban renewal is our only option with public-sector projects such as a convention centre, football stadium and aquatic centre acting as incentives for further private-sector investment.

At the same time, many of our obsolete office buildings can be converted into new apartments, student accommodation or hotels – but we need the incentives and the policy settings to make this happen.

Places such as NewActon show us that we can create memorable neighbourhoods – but we need more of them.

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Catherine Carter
Former ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia

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