MANY planning initiatives by the ACT’s Labor/Greens government are based on trying to fool people with political spin disguised as fact. The West Basin development is one of these.
This was formerly promoted as the City to Lake project based on the concept that Civic should not be separated from the lake and therefore a land bridge was to be built over Parkes Way. It was quickly realised that this was far too expensive.
So, while no one was paying attention, this City to Lake project morphed into the West Basin Project. The original major (stated) reason for the project was to connect to the city. This will not happen. The West Basin is now under the radar while most residents and apparently many ACT politicians do not know what is really happening.
The West Basin is now simply about selling land and for developers to build a high-rise suburb on the lakeside, alongside Commonwealth Avenue around into West Basin. This will seriously erode any chance of revitalising Civic.
Then there is the role of the National Capital Authority in progressing such a massive development on the side of Lake Burley Griffin.
The NCA statements on West Basin allow for development and contain little relevance to their role as custodians of the national landscapes. The NCA guidelines for West Basin were written by the NCA under the leadership of a CEO who subsequently became the CEO for the new City Renewal Authority – the new body charged to deliver this massive development on West Basin.
When it comes to what the NCA and ACT Labor/Greens demand as quality architecture and landscapes, keep in mind what they allowed as architectural designs for Kingston Foreshore. Next time you drive south across Kings Avenue look at the “toasters” that now shine in the afternoon light. If this West Basin project goes ahead, this style of architecture (is it architecture?) will be hard up against Commonwealth Avenue most of the way between Vernon Circle and the bridge. So much for the bush capital image.
The Chief Minister uses Marion and Walter Burley Griffin’s names to justify this development. It is laughable spin and is a corruption of the Griffins’ visions. Statements about the area being mostly a car park are misleading. While there are car parks on part of the foreshore closer to Commonwealth Avenue, there are also hundreds of trees and other important lakeside biodiversity areas that will disappear. The Chief Minister’s motto to be applied here – as with so much of our bush capital – “I came, I saw and I concreted”.
There are plans to fill in parts of the lake to allow more of the foreshore to be available for sales. It is a folly that will result in another corrupted Labor/Greens project delivering something very boring and ugly at the cost of heritage and environmental values. And strangely there is talk of a land/lake swap with the NCA to get more land for embassies. Haven’t we had enough of dubious land swaps by this government?
There is no comprehension within this Labor/Greens government for what an open-space, lakeside parkland is and how parklands should instead be enhanced to provide for biodiversity and to provide a place for people to relax without activation and being vibrant.
Sadly, West Basin is seen as a land bank for development – for developers to make loads of money and for funds to come back to help with the looming ACT Budget deficits.
The community voice has been strangely muted on this project except through the hard work of the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians. This new version of the West Basin project is a serious threat to biodiversity, green spaces and the lake as a national heritage site. We really do not need another high-rise apartment suburb on the side of our cherished lake and alongside Commonwealth Avenue.
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Ian Meikle, editor