As it grows outward, Canberra also needs to grow inward. With good long-term planning, urban infill can be done in a way that preserves the Bush Capital that we love as Canberrans.
All new potential developments outlined in this shared vision for Canberra should contain a minimum 10% social and affordable housing target and be serviced by good public and active transport routes to alleviate car dependency.
This is about density done right, increasing infill where it makes sense, limiting endless and costly urban sprawl into green spaces while also preserving the character of existing suburbs and ensuring the right mix between high, medium and low density housing in appropriate locations.
The increasing number of new suburbs being constructed across the ACT should be complemented by a thriving CBD, populated by the essential workers, artists, professionals, students and entrepreneurs who are drawn to city living.
A 2013 Urban Strategy plan entitled ’Linking City Centre to the Lake’, which was prepared on behalf of the ACT Government, suggested that partially lowering Parkes Way – turning it into a split-level boulevard from Coranderrk Street to Edinburgh Avenue – would create 25 new urban blocks equating to 50,000 square metres for development.
Realising less than 50% of the development potential of those new blocks would return $386 million to the ACT Government’s budget over the ensuing 5-7 years, paying for the $210 million estimated cost of works with an 84% windfall remaining thereafter. Over 7,400 new dwellings could be constructed to house 15,000 new residents in Civic.
This original plan should be revisited with a variant pursued whereby Parkes Way is sent underground from Edinburgh Avenue to beyond Anzac Parade, reemerging to the east of ASIO headquarters. Doing so would release large expanses of under-utilised land in an optimal, highly serviced and well-connected location.
Bruce is a substandard location for a stadium but prime real estate for housing. When Canberra Stadium is decommissioned, the Commonwealth land at Bruce on which it is built should be repurposed for housing, alongside the planned renewal of the AIS.
The 243 hectares of surplus land identified at CSIRO’s Ginninderra site should be released either directly to the private sector or to the ACT Government for redevelopment as housing, with a requirement for new social and affordable housing to be included in the mix.
THE EASTERN LOOP
Once constructed, the planned city-to-airport light rail line should be extended to form a longer Eastern Loop, passing through Fyshwick, Manuka, Kingston and Barton before connecting with the planned Stage 2B line. Over 8,000 new residential dwellings can be unlocked by redeveloping either side of this new light rail corridor, which would be established along the old heavy rail line. The Fyshwick Business Association’s November 2022 proposal offers a sensible plan for completing this project in a cost-neutral way that maximises land value, public amenity and liveability.