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A new look for Belco?

By Kim Fischer - 30 September 2015 22

Belconnen Master Plan aerial view

Do you think the CIT Bruce campus should move to be next to Westfield Belconnen? Do you want 18-storey high-rises on the sites of the old Belconnen Remand Centre?

Consultation officially starts today on the draft Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan. It’s an important document that will shape both Belconnen and the broader ACT for the next 10 years and beyond.

The suburb of Belconnen will be transformed by high-rise developments over the next decade. The 27-storey Wayfarer hotel and apartments are already under construction, joining the nearby 18-storey Altitude and Sentinel complexes. There are also 16- and 24-storey residential developments already approved for development on the Belconnen Markets and Westfield sites respectively.

The new draft master plan continues this trend towards high rise development, with more than 10 additional sites identified for buildings developments of 12 storeys in height or greater. If all of these are approved, an additional 3300 residents (more than the entire population of nearby Aranda) will be moving into the high density residential district between Chandler St and Eastern Valley Way alone.

The draft master plan identifies ways to revitalise and make better use of Emu Bank and Lake Ginninderra, and better integrate the University of Canberra with the town centre through better signage and road, pedestrian and cycle connections.

However, the biggest change to the character of Belconnen would be the redevelopment of Lathlain St into the “Main Street” of the town centre.

Currently a fairly boring road linking Westfield Belconnen to the Belconnen Markets and Bunnings, the draft master plan calls for a complete revamp of Lathlain St, with 6m-wide footpaths and 18-storey high rise developments on ACT Government sites including the former Belconnen Remand Centre and the soon-to-be vacated Fire and Ambulance stations.

The draft master plan flags the relocation of Belconnen Community Services, the Belconnen Library and even the CIT campus of Bruce to Laithlain St. The services area behind Lathlain St would also be revamped, encouraging opening of live music venues and other noisy activities further away from residential housing. The construction of a well-marked cycle path linking Florey to the Jamison shops through Lathlain St would further strengthen travel options between nearby suburbs.

By transforming Lathlain St into a community hub and a “destination” with brand recognition similar to Kingston, New Acton and Braddon, the draft master plan aims to encourage greater commercial activity, particularly after hours, in the town centre.

These plans present opportunities as well as challenges for Belconnen. A new generation of families and older residents are interested in the option of high-quality apartment living. As people move into the town centre, there will be increased demand for high quality cafes, restaurants and other commercial services. But there will be challenges to meet as well from increased traffic congestion and in terms of ensuring sufficient parking capacity for employees and shoppers.

A number of strategies have been identified to address parking issues, including building additional multi-storey carparks, and the roll out of smart parking in Belconnen if the trial in Manuka is successful.

The most important thing if you live, work, shop, or eat in the Belconnen town centre is to get involved and have your say. There are also many consultations happening until November 20, so log on to haveyoursay.planning.act.gov.au to see where you can meet the people making these decisions, and to contribute your views to the future of the town centre.

What’s Your opinion?


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22 Responses to
A new look for Belco?
JC 11:32 pm 03 Oct 15

Maya123 said :

I also tend to find the Belconnen Mall hard to navigate, and any mall or shop I find hard to navigate I tend to avoid.

Really? It is basically two long L shaped floors, with one smaller straight floor. Don’t know how much easier it could get. Unlike the Canberra Centre, Woden Plaza and even the Hyperdome, where there are bits all over the place.

Holden Caulfield 6:14 pm 03 Oct 15

HenryBG doesn’t like the architecture of the National Museum. Well, you could knock me down with a feather!

HenryBG 5:09 pm 03 Oct 15

Maya123 said :

There’s nothing greatly wrong with the look of the National Museum. It has great colours and has interesting shapes, which makes it very photogenic

I’m sorry, you’ve been fooled – the building is an absolute joke. It screams “look at me” and it has nothing worth looking at. It makes the Pompidou centre look sensible. It is a monument to the poor quality that permeates the people who run the ACT, the poverty of their education, their intellect, their decision-making, their class, their style, and their integrity.

Just nip over to the Portrait Gallery and check out what honest grown-ups are capable of.

Maya123 10:35 am 03 Oct 15

HenryBG said :

rubaiyat said :

The only thing that could really improve Belconnen would be massive amounts of ivy, wisteria and the giant fig trees that subsumed Ankor Wat.

The architecture out at Belconnen might not be absolutely brilliant, but if I had any say in it, I would be inviting the giant fig trees that ate Angkor Wat to take up residence on the Acton Peninsula in order to take care of the absolutely abysmal National Museum building, a building that makes even Belconnen look appealingly visionary.

“National Museum”

Er!!! Worse than Belconnen Mall!!! There’s nothing greatly wrong with the look of the National Museum. It has great colours and has interesting shapes, which makes it very photogenic (in a good way, for the cynics!). I’m not commenting on its functionality here. That can be considered another thing, apart from how it looks. And an above ground parking area is ugly. I’ve often thought that the large entrance hall is wasted space, but that’s inside, not how the building looks, and I presume that is what you don’t like. But please explain what don’t you like about its look. Is it the colours, shape…what? Or do you think museums should be big and stone and grey/beige, with columns, like many of the others? Is it too different, is that its crime? When I see the Belconnen Mall, all I see is ugly, colourless car park entrances. Mind you, I choose not to visit the Belconnen Mall very often, because I don’t live in Belconnen and I have two shopping malls closer to home, which I don’t need to drive to. I can catch a bus to either of them when I go shopping. Belconnen Mall is two buses away, so it’s not ‘my’ shopping mall. I also tend to find the Belconnen Mall hard to navigate, and any mall or shop I find hard to navigate I tend to avoid. That is also a comment about large department stores that purposely make finding the exit difficult in their warped idea of keeping the customer inside longer. That only works if the customer wants to go inside in the first place, and any shop I have found hard to leave quickly in the past, I have to then have a stronger reason to enter in the future. I won’t enter a shop to browse, if I have in the past not been able to spot the exit quickly and get around efficiently to buy what I came in for, so they lose me. But then, I am not a fan of big malls, or a shop-to-you-drop kind of person. Shopping is done only when something is needed. It can be many weeks between my visits to a mall; sometimes months.

rubaiyat 9:46 am 03 Oct 15

HenryBG said :

rubaiyat said :

The only thing that could really improve Belconnen would be massive amounts of ivy, wisteria and the giant fig trees that subsumed Ankor Wat.

The architecture out at Belconnen might not be absolutely brilliant, but if I had any say in it, I would be inviting the giant fig trees that ate Angkor Wat to take up residence on the Acton Peninsula in order to take care of the absolutely abysmal National Museum building, a building that makes even Belconnen look appealingly visionary.

They couldn’t afford anything else but Tilt-up and cheaply coloured concrete slabs, yet they blew money on that ridiculous mal-proportioned abandoned roller coaster.

The budget didn’t even extend to making the CAD lines smooth curves.

HenryBG 12:20 am 03 Oct 15

rubaiyat said :

The only thing that could really improve Belconnen would be massive amounts of ivy, wisteria and the giant fig trees that subsumed Ankor Wat.

The architecture out at Belconnen might not be absolutely brilliant, but if I had any say in it, I would be inviting the giant fig trees that ate Angkor Wat to take up residence on the Acton Peninsula in order to take care of the absolutely abysmal National Museum building, a building that makes even Belconnen look appealingly visionary.

rubaiyat 2:38 pm 02 Oct 15

JC said :

rubaiyat said :

Belconnen reminds me of the story of the Soviet era Moscow architect who was forced to live in the top floor of the liftless high rise apartment block he designed.

I hope that the Town Planners who “designed” Belconnen were forced to live there, but unfortunately justice doesn’t work that way.

The only thing that could really improve Belconnen would be massive amounts of ivy, wisteria and the giant fig trees that subsumed Ankor Wat.

And at the time it, and the whole design (including the interchange and busway) were cutting edge with some of the buildings you refer to winning architecture awards.

The same is true for much of Canberra, a lot of it, at the time was very much cutting edge and the way of the future, but sitting here in 2015 it is clear the crystal ball of the 60’s and 70’s was a little bit foggy.

Belconnen was not cutting edge. It was Me Too awful British New Town design mashed up with US suburban mall, complete with the wrong northern hemisphere orientation.

I have been railing against this bad design and thinking for as long as they have existed, it is not a recent thought except to those who had none to start with. It was always bleedin’ obvious. How can you avoid noticing it staring you in the face?

That it has been such a futile fight against people for whom the Status Quo is just unthinkingly fine, was why I got out of architecture. That so many STILL struggle with the basics, even in environmental design is beyond exasperating.

JC 11:12 am 02 Oct 15

rubaiyat said :

Belconnen reminds me of the story of the Soviet era Moscow architect who was forced to live in the top floor of the liftless high rise apartment block he designed.

I hope that the Town Planners who “designed” Belconnen were forced to live there, but unfortunately justice doesn’t work that way.

The only thing that could really improve Belconnen would be massive amounts of ivy, wisteria and the giant fig trees that subsumed Ankor Wat.

And at the time it, and the whole design (including the interchange and busway) were cutting edge with some of the buildings you refer to winning architecture awards.

The same is true for much of Canberra, a lot of it, at the time was very much cutting edge and the way of the future, but sitting here in 2015 it is clear the crystal ball of the 60’s and 70’s was a little bit foggy.

rubaiyat 3:10 pm 01 Oct 15

Belconnen reminds me of the story of the Soviet era Moscow architect who was forced to live in the top floor of the liftless high rise apartment block he designed.

I hope that the Town Planners who “designed” Belconnen were forced to live there, but unfortunately justice doesn’t work that way.

The only thing that could really improve Belconnen would be massive amounts of ivy, wisteria and the giant fig trees that subsumed Ankor Wat.

watto23 2:30 pm 01 Oct 15

We need the infill in places. We need a few more high density areas, high density brings more opportunities for local businesses to open up, with guaranteed foot traffic walking past each day.

Also high density helps ease pressure elsewhere on housing, where young professionals can get a unit in a central location rather than take up a family house somewhere.

rubaiyat 1:48 pm 01 Oct 15

rosscoact said :

…have you noticed that it is the nature of the ultra conservative animal to see temporaneous changes as permanent and permanent changes as temporaneous?

Spot on.

Also their resistance to change only applies to change for the better.

Destructive or corrosive change seems to be OK in their mind, so long as the burden of all their bad choices, falls on everyone else’s shoulders.

Ultimately their obsessive ideas on conservation are reserved for the only two things that matter, money and their personal possessions.

rubaiyat 9:32 am 01 Oct 15

Mark of Sydney said :

gooterz said :

Given declining Canberra population and the need to actually have someone to use the tram. It seems a bit redundant to infill Belconnen.

Don’t know where the idea that Canberra’s population is falling came from, though have seen a couple of claims to this effect lately, here and elsewhere.

According to the most recent ABS statistics, the ACT’s population grew by 4,800 or 1.3% in the year to March 2015, just under the 1.4% growth rate for Australia as a whole.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3101.0

It comes from having to be right about the “knowledge” that the Light Rail will be a “disaster” as all these people do every time the subject is raised anywhere every time Light Rail is proposed around the world, except where Light Rail is such a common experience that of course the “problem” is ridiculous.

It is not knowledge, it is a belief which comes from no facts at all, and like all beliefs based on “never tried it, never will” you work backwards from that and every unresearched, half heard, or imagined “fact” that reinforces the belief is “true” and everything no matter how researched or evidence/experience based is “false” and rejected.

I know in at least one case here, because he said so, it is tied up with the poster’s strong anti-Climate Change beliefs and suspect given the innumerable responses which never get the distinction about the differences between transport modes and for whom they are all equivalent, that it is the underlying reason for opposing the Light Rail. Just as it is in America where there are even more Creationists and anti-Science “Believers”.

Most of the opposition seems to be older extremely conservative men from Tuggeranong. Who probably do not get out much anymore and whose day to day experience is Tuggeranong’s uninviting suburbia, lack of urban life and falling population.

Their personal experience becomes universal in their minds, untainted by alternative experiences. Not that they are open to those.

For them increased urban density, the pursuit of a clean environment and inner city life is irrelevant. None of those are for them. Since that is the extent of their interest, end of story.

Getting back on subject. Canberra has a large percentage of people who have ties elsewhere and when the cyclical anti-Public Service dogma bites on their jobs they pack up and leave, but the overall trend persists.

Canberra grows very much as predicted, and every time a large number of people seem to be surprised when the population pressures produce outcomes they hadn’t anticipated because THEIR predictions of Canberra’s imminent demise or financial collapse, turned out to be totally wrong. Again.

rosscoact 8:56 am 01 Oct 15

Mark of Sydney said :

gooterz said :

Given declining Canberra population and the need to actually have someone to use the tram. It seems a bit redundant to infill Belconnen.

Don’t know where the idea that Canberra’s population is falling came from, though have seen a couple of claims to this effect lately, here and elsewhere.

According to the most recent ABS statistics, the ACT’s population grew by 4,800 or 1.3% in the year to March 2015, just under the 1.4% growth rate for Australia as a whole.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3101.0

I believe he is referring to the construction workers who were temporarily in the Territory albeit for an extended period.

On the other hand, have you noticed that it is the nature of the ultra conservative animal to see temporaneous changes as permanent and permanent changes as temporaneous?

Mark of Sydney 8:47 am 01 Oct 15

gooterz said :

Given declining Canberra population and the need to actually have someone to use the tram. It seems a bit redundant to infill Belconnen.

Don’t know where the idea that Canberra’s population is falling came from, though have seen a couple of claims to this effect lately, here and elsewhere.

According to the most recent ABS statistics, the ACT’s population grew by 4,800 or 1.3% in the year to March 2015, just under the 1.4% growth rate for Australia as a whole.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3101.0

gooterz 11:08 pm 30 Sep 15

Given declining Canberra population and the need to actually have someone to use the tram. It seems a bit redundant to infill Belconnen.

At least the crime seems to have gone/ or just gone quiet.

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