1 April 2020

ACT Government moves ahead with West Basin plans

| Ian Bushnell
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West Basin Stage 2

An illustration of the West Basin Stage 2 project. Images: City Renewal Authority.

A tender has been issued for a consultant to manage the next stage of the City Renewal Authority’s Lake Burley Griffin West Basin development plan on behalf of the government.

The tender comes a week after the National Capital Authority announced the North Curtin horse paddocks land swap with the ACT.

The ACT Government has already contracted Chincivil Pty Ltd to build Stage 2, which involves extending the boardwalk and reclaiming the lake bed. The government is now looking for a project manager for the 18-month construction period and the two-year consolidation phase.

The 2019-20 budget includes $10 million for early work on the project, with a further $25 million allocated across the next two financial years.

The overall West Basin development, described as transformational and a priority project for the government, is part of the City to the Lake concept and eventually will mean the construction of about 2000 apartments behind lakeside parkland and a promenade.

“West Basin is an opportunity to unite Canberra City with the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore,” the tender document says. “This catalyst precinct will set a new standard of the design and realisation of the public realm in the ACT and encourage a rethinking of applicable standards to ensure best practice urban environments.”

Stage 2 involves extending the Henry Rolland Park boardwalk, with the construction of 500 metres of 8.1 metre-wide pre-cast concrete boardwalk and lake wall.

About 2.8 hectares of the lake bed will be reclaimed for future works, requiring about 80,000 cubic metres of fill. It will need to settle and be topped up.

The reclaimed area will be landscaped, subject to a further NCA Works Approval, as a temporary measure until further development is approved.

City Renewal Authority CEO Malcolm Snow said last week that future stages would include a new lakefront park and landscaped public spaces adjacent to the boardwalk that will separate the lake edge from any new buildings.

Reclaimed area

One idea is to use the reclaimed area as a tree nursery for future stages.

Buildings would be set back a minimum of 55 metres from the lake edge and the tender documents say the reclaimed land would be filled so that it can accommodate building foundations, including those for multi-storey structures. Construction will have to account for basements below the waterline.

The old boat hire building and jetty facilities, former bike hire building, and picnic facilities will be demolished and about 120 trees, mostly willows and poplars, will be removed.

The tender documents say no new permanent tree planting is planned for Stage 2, which will be part of the future Acton Waterfront development. However, the temporary landscape plan for the reclaimed area considers using the area as a tree nursery for future planting there.

West Basin lake edge

The new West Basin lake edge and reclaimed area.

Other works include temporary traffic management measures such as car park closures and temporary realignment of the shared path network, and the installation of boardwalk lighting and furniture.

While the number of apartments envisaged for West Basin has been flagged at 2000, Mr Snow said the master planning previously undertaken for the Acton Waterfront project was being reviewed before any decision was made on its scope, timing and delivery method.

“Building development will proceed in accordance with timing set out in the 2019-20 to 2022-23 Indicative Land Release Program which would see the first blocks of land being released to market in the mid-2020s,” he said.

Construction of Stage 2 is scheduled to commence in the second half of 2020, but this may have to be reviewed in light of the coronavirus emergency.

While West Basin is now ACT land it remains subject to the National Capital Plan and future stages will need NCA approval.

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Capital Retro11:32 am 12 May 20

It may have been revealed somewhere else already but is stamp duty paid both ways on this sweetheart deal or is there some convenient exemption concession?

Stanleyhistory9:33 pm 11 May 20

This is a typically unnecessary and undesirable land deal by the Barr government. It will destroy the amenity of the West Basin and basically give prime lakeside land to a small wealthy group of privileged residents and deny access to the lakeside by the great majority of Canberrans. There must be better ways to make better use of this area. The present plan seems to be yet another example of how Canberra has been sold out by a Labor/Greens government that we might have expected better of. But no, Andrew Barr sells out to the developers, yet again. But what alternative do we have in the coming election? Canberra has been sold to the developers. Sham, Barr, shame!

I was involved as a member of the public in a consultation on future ideas for this site and I think it was done well as a needs based study. Regardless of the final design I suggest that a key concern will be the transition arrangements for pedestrians and cyclists during the construction period. It will be disruptive but keeping the continuity of the Lake Path will do a lot to dispel criticism of the project and gain a degree of confidence in its execution.

HiddenDragon7:31 pm 05 Apr 20

“the tender documents say the reclaimed land would be filled so that it can accommodate building foundations, including those for multi-storey structures. Construction will have to account for basements below the waterline.”

What could possibly go wrong?

You missed this bit:“ Buildings would be set back a minimum of 55 metres from the lake edge ”

Capital Retro11:34 am 12 May 20

Is that the existing lake edge or the proposed one?

The ACT Government denied all the way along that tjey would not be building over the existing lake bed … that it will all be jsed for parkland. Now it has been exposed at last that they will be building multistory buildings where there is currently lake (i.e. at the jetty). Cynically, they are pushing ahead with this when we actually will not need thousands more apartments in a post-Coronavirus dystopian Canberra. This is a real estate project for the developers, not a nation building project for people.

This is horrible! There are many water birds and insects nest in the plants along the lake, now all become concrete! The concrete path doesn’t work well in local climate, it is either too hot and glaring in summer, or encourage wind sweeping through the foreshore. Have any of the government officers went to the lake on a windy day? The foreshore need more trees, plants and soft edges for the good of human and animals! And how will the site deal with the storm water ? Is the polluted water from new development just going to be washed into the lake?

You do know where this is don’t you? The current foreshore where this is planned is far from this pristine ecosystem you are talking about.

As for stormwater again you realise the lake itself is part of the stormwater system as it is. So why wouldn’t it flow into the lake like it does now, in particular from the carparks that currently fill the vast majority of this land.

I’m looking forward to a new park on the lakefront to replace the sea of asphalt that passes for public open space at the moment. Canberra needs a waterfront connection with its city centre rather than turning its back to the water. I’m looking forward to seeing sailing boats from city streets and the building heights,- despite silly descriptions of it as “high rise” – will ensure the place remains human scale. The disinformation peddled by those who would leave Acton the way it is are proof of the adage that you don’t let facts (and a better city) get in the way of your zealotry.

Sydney’s CBD literally faces the harbour but unless you’re boarding a ferry or a cruise ship, i.e. you go to the very edge of it, you wouldn’t know it was there.

Please explain why the CBD needs to face the water at West Basin. It’s not as if the lake is an essential part of the supply infrastructure for Canberra, as the harbour was for Sydney’s CBD up until 100 years ago.

And really, haven’t we worked out yet that the notion of a CBD, of which Canberra was designed to have several, not just the one in North Canberra named Civic, is becoming much less relevant in the 21st century.

Instead of pussy-footing around by reclaiming only 2.8 hectares of the lake, the Barr government should dismantle the Scrivener Dam and return the lake area to its former sheep paddock glory. Then, fill it with apartment blocks. It would certainly make the tram bridge a whole lot shorter. You know it makes sense.

Can we get the Lancaster out of the War Memorial to do the dismantling?

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