Grumpy / Car park crack is ‘offensive’

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THE assertion of Geocon’s Nick Georgalis in a recent interview that, before he came along, Canberra was “a wasteland of car parks” is offensive.

That someone holding that view is in charge of so much of Canberra’s current redevelopment is alarming.

Canberra was always meant to be a distinctive, planned capital in harmony with the natural environment.

I do not dispute that the plan needs to evolve to meet contemporary needs.

What I object to is:

  • The lack of any coherent plan to update the work of the original planners, instead opportunistic ad-hocery prevails.
  • The arrogant refusal of those who pass for ACT planners to undertake meaningful community consultations.
  • The utter lack of design distinction of the often shoddily-built plethora of uniform building-block high-rises now spreading across Canberra like a canker. An earlier correspondent drew a contrast with Singapore – a necessarily high-rise city, but not as characterless as Canberra is going to be. I have lived in Europe, and seen the grim post-war quick-fixes to housing needs in those cities – they have become slums.
  • A chief minister who is on record as wanting Canberra to be “like all other cities”. I would not wish that on Canberra.

Not a wasteland, Mr Georgalis and Mr Barr, but hitherto a sensitively planned and beautiful city.

Grumpy is an occasional column dedicated to things that get up your nose. Readers are invited to vent (no more than 300 words, please) at


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