Belconnen Town Centre is changing. Quickly.
Here are a few examples:
- The residential population in the Town Centre has increased substantially in the last few years. Think apartment blocks like Altitude, Linq, Sentinel and Wayfarer – with more to come (Republic and Cirrus, as well as new townhouses near Aikman Drive).
- The Labor Club is building a hotel.
- Following a very successful seven years of operation, the ACT Government has committed $15 million to completing Belconnen Arts Centre through ‘Stage 2’ – adding more workshop and exhibition spaces, as well as a multi-purpose theatre.
- UC Public Hospital will be operational by this time next year.
- Design work is underway for the Belco Bikeway – a separated cycleway throughout the Town Centre which will better connect it to UC and surrounding suburbs.
- The Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan was completed in late 2016. To help implement parts of the Master Plan, the community will be invited to comment on a Territory Plan variation and updates to Belconnen’s precinct code.
- Last month the Chief Minister committed $3 million to public domain upgrades through the Town Centre, drawing on recommendations in the Master Plan.
On top of all that, there still remain a few challenges and opportunities. The way UC is orientated means it essentially has its back to the broader Town Centre, and it itself is changing quickly. Commercial opportunities abound, including sales of iconic businesses like the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, and the challenges of activating the ground floors of some of apartment blocks. The Town Centre went through a major scare in 2014-15 when the Department of Immigration threatened to up and leave – and now the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation looks set to move to the city.
In talking with businesses and the broader community, it’s become apparent to me that while most people have an idea about one or two changes in the Town Centre, there’s so much going on that it’s hard to get a sense of the full picture.
That’s why I used last week’s Belconnen cabinet visit to call for a Belconnen Town Centre Showcase.
A Showcase would be an opportunity for ACT Government directorates, businesses, community organisations and other interested parties to present to the community, and each other, about their interests and contributions to the Town Centre – now and into the future.
It has the potential to provide a full picture of what’s happening in Belconnen, to encourage all members of the community to ask questions and get up to speed about the changes underway, and to reinforce and reinvigorate activity in the Town Centre.
What would you like to learn more about at a Showcase? What businesses, directorates and community organisations would you like to see?