Opinion / Why parking will sink Manuka development

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Manuka Oval... Who in their right mind would build a stadium of worthwhile size in the tiny pocket of Manuka Oval?
Manuka Oval… Who in their right mind would build a stadium of worthwhile size in the tiny pocket of Manuka Oval?

THE Manuka Oval development is a plainly lunatic proposition, a ruse to get a developer access to a prime site for commercial development, admittedly a very successful big project developer, with an admirable record.

Who in their right mind would build a stadium of worthwhile size in the tiny pocket of Manuka Oval?

Warwick Davis.
Warwick Davis.

Stadiums need car parking (likewise, 1000 residential units).

What parking demand could be generated by 140,000sqm of office and retail space? That size is about 10 equivalents of 10-12-storey major city towers. Westfield Belconnen has about 117,000sqm floor space. IKEA Majura has an 11,200sqm floor area plus 800 car parks.

The 140,000sqm office and retail space alone as projected for the project is a phenomenal size, or a mistake somewhere. Big is not bad, but inadequate car parking is the curse of Canberra.

It is already notorious that Manuka is under supplied with car parking where it is anecdotally referred to as going into “lock down” during major events at the apparently too-small stadium: all car parks full to overflowing, traffic jams, cars parked on road reserves and verges, all rich pickings for the ACT government’s parking inspectors.

One more suitable nearby space is known as Symonston, between Fyshwick and the jail, which would be a synergistic location, providing a ready source of labour, to build and operate a stadium. The helicopter is nearby to take injured players back to their own treatment headquarters or maybe a Canberra hospital. What more can professional entertainment ask?

Or perhaps space next to Majura Road – a stadium for professional entertainment is a commercial activity.

Both areas are better served by road access than the tiny pocket of Manuka Oval nestled amongst a very pleasant, much-loved neighbourhood.

Out-of-town developers might not always grasp that the values, both financial and sentimental, which make this region so attractive to its residents and thus developers, is precisely that pleasant, long-established environment. It would disappear if visitors in a skyscraper are thought to be overlooking the neighbourhood and providing the inevitable increase in traffic, parking overflow, noise and rate costs.

A careful study of multi-unit sites in Canberra would demonstrate that our car-parking requirements are in reality inadequate, probably grossly inadequate.

The Sydney Olympics was especially successful in people attendances, because public transport serviced the crowds, efficiently and comfortably. Canberra does not have such services. The little red engine espoused by the current government (should that be the reds’ little engine?), even fully extended, will never shift the numbers to a stadium at the speed required to persuade the population to abandon car transport. Buses might.

Until that rapid mass-transport option is available, to and from the airport, rail station, all town centres and event locations, this is just a lunatic idea from out of towners looking for a great site.


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