Property Council displeased by Northbourne Flats heritage decision

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THE Property Council’s ACT Executive Director, Catherine Carter says the ACT Government’s back down on plans to redevelop the entire Northbourne Avenue public housing precinct may compromise amenity and liveability along Canberra’s gateway.

The Land Development Agency has agreed to retain 17 of the run-down 1960s buildings, which will now be incorporated into nearby developments of more than 1,100 dwellings for private sale.

“The Property Council was a strong supporter of the ACT Government’s decision to demolish the precinct, and our long-held view is that Canberra will get the best outcomes if the entire area is redeveloped,” Catherine says.

“We retain the view that these buildings are in a dilapidated state, are an unsightly welcome to Canberra, and will need a small fortune spent to upgrade them to meet contemporary building standards. We are also skeptical about heritage value of such poor quality examples of Canberra architecture.

“The property industry is committed to preserving our prized heritage buildings – the Canberra Glassworks, the Hotel Acton and the R H Hope building are just three examples. Celebrating our history and preserving significant buildings is an essential as we enhance our city. We believe there are other ways to have preserved memories of the Northbourne flats.

“However, we recognise this has been a difficult matter to reconcile between different interest groups, and we are pleased that a decision has been made that will ensure urban renewal can proceed.”

A meeting of the Heritage Council on Thursday resolved that both Northbourne Towers, a set of nine De Burgh Street units, protected trees and landscaping in a cul-de-sac and at least one of each of five other types of buildings – towers, pair-houses, three-storey flats, maisonettes and garden flats – would be retained.

“The need to preserve every single type of housing does place question marks over the ability to successfully regenerate the entire area.

“We need a new strategic plan which outlines how these buildings will be re-lifed and incorporated into the urban regeneration of the area – and that includes how we are going to fund a substantial renovation.

“Above all, we must ensure this compromise does not deliver poor outcomes and mar our opportunities to improve the gateway to Canberra,” Ms Carter concluded.

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