29 December 2021

Acton Waterfront Park to be Canberra's new major event site

| Ian Bushnell
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An artist's impression of the West Basin waterfront once completed.

An earlier artist’s impression of the proposed Acton Waterfront Park at West Basin. Image: ACT Government.

The Acton Waterfront Precinct at West Basin could hold major public events accommodating up to 20,000 people, with the setting including a 1000-person event lawn in the proposed new park, according to a design tender for a sketch plan.

The two features are part of a list of required elements the successful landscape architecture design team will need to consider in the proposed 55 metre-wide, four-hectare urban park to be constructed after the current infill and boardwalk project is completed and the reclaimed land can settle.

The tender documents describe the City Renewal Authority’s lofty ambitions for the Acton Waterfront Park which is planned to begin construction in 2023 and open in 2025.

The CRA says the park will be one of Canberra’s most important new public open spaces, offering a recreational and cultural focus around the lake that will make it a prime venue for everyday recreation as well as community events, exhibitions and public gatherings.

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It expects the park to be a major visitor destination in its own right, strengthen the appeal and significance of Lake Burley Griffin as Canberra’s major tourist focus and provide an important connection to the surrounding national institutions and tourist attractions.

The tender document says the Government’s preferred design option from the business case includes a series of ramps, steps and terraces defining spaces to be used for gardens, events, exhibitions, play and views to the lake.

Extensive planting of mainly native trees and shrubs would create an Australian landscape that meets the ACT’s goal for 30 per cent canopy cover, and includes two commercial pavilions and a play space.

The park would require 3-phase power for events, public WIFI and two 100 square-metre pavilions with 50:50 indoor and outdoor spaces for commercial uses such as cafés, bike hire, restaurants and public toilets.

West Basin park

The site map for the proposed Acton Waterfront Park project. Image: ACT Government.

It would also need shade structures, bollards and a range of public amenities such as seating, bins, drinking fountains, lighting and signs.

The play space should be of world quality and accessible for all ages and abilities, and the consultant should also explore opportunities for water play within the park.

The park should include a network of connected paths and cycleways that link with the Parkes Way crossing and to light rail on Commonwealth Avenue to encourage active travel.

It would include a separated cycleway and a pedestrian-only boardwalk, as well as hoops for bicycle parking.

A wharf or jetty would enable ferries to dock and provide another transport connection to the precinct.

The park will embrace sustainability principles with water sensitive design a priority, so it can be a climate wise and energy and water efficient development.

As well as the 30 per cent tree cover, 30 per cent of the the park would have water permeable surfaces.

The authority is in talks the Green Building Council of Australia to use the Acton Waterfront project as a test site for an updated Green Star Communities Tool.

“There are significant opportunities to set best practice sustainability performance targets as part of the park’s design,” the tender document says.

The successful tenderer will have to take into account associated projects such as the city beach to the west, the extended boardwalk under construction, the temporary landscape scheme and light rail to Commonwealth Park.

The other aspect it will need to consider is the long-term plans for mixed-use development behind the park that will bring a permanent residential population to the precinct.

It will need to work closely with the CRA, stakeholders and the community.

The Sketch Plan will go to the National Capital Authority for approval before being included in a design and construction tender.

The October Budget allocated $2.8 million for design and consultation, but the outlay for the park’s construction will remain confidential through the tender stages.

The tender closed on 21 December.

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I agree with the comments that this is another ACT Government folly. Poor access, poor public transport connections, total waste of money.

Says everything that the “artist’s impression” they’re using to sell it has the trees and flats in about the opposite proportions to what they’ve told the developers. The new bit of park along there is nice but it’s all concrete, and it’s going to be backed by more over-sized apartment blocks. Flats, flats and more flats, as far as the eye used to be able to see before they built all these flats.

I regularly ride my bike past the construction site and have observed over the last year that this must be the slowest construction in history. I’d hedge my bets that any of the pyramids were erected in a quicker time

thoughtsonthesubject5:50 pm 30 Dec 21

Just another part of the government’s attempt to sell their little red tram. What fun it all will be. Let the public forget that their rates will continue to rise paying for such extravaganzas, that education, public housing and health will remain massively underfunded (Canberra has the longest hospital emergency waiting times in the whole country) and that the tram to Woden will cost taxpayers several billion dollars and take twice as long as the buses. Happy New Year!

This project would be a good idea regardless of whether the light rail occurred or not.

It should already be well underway.

Actually education and health isn’t underfunded, I mentioned it in another thread that whilst there are issues in these areas funding isn’t one of them.
As for rates rises not sure where you have been but for the most part rising rates are about the abolishment of stamp duty, very little has actually been diverted into things like the “little red tram”. Which I am sure if you rode it you would find ain’t so little.

Frank Spencer3:24 pm 30 Dec 21

A fantastic idea. Canberra really needs this! It will look great.

Robert Azzopardi8:07 pm 29 Dec 21

I’m just here to read to comments from preps who know absolutely zero snout the project

thatsnotmyname6:01 pm 29 Dec 21

Will be a great place to spend time when complete, can’t wait!

“30 per cent of the the park would have water permeable surfaces”.

There was an ample grass area before the ACT government wanted to concrete most of site. Is the chief minister’s name actually Andrew “Bulldozer” Barr?

Wasn’t this area mostly car park?

Which area are you looking at?

Most of the current site is concrete carpark, the proposal will improve the situation.

Has there been an updated plan for the West Basin development?

The original business case from the government said the Acton Waterfront would house 15,000 people, but Mr Barr later said it would only house less than 1000 residents.

The last designs I saw had apartments where the car parks were (not parkland). The parklands in this proposal were being created on current green space and the lake infill, but from what you’ve just said, this plan must have changed and the green space has increased to include the car parks.

ChrisinTurner2:21 pm 29 Dec 21

The space surrounding this park is seldom shown as being apartment blocks. I wonder why?

A quick image search reveals the opposite to be true. Urban development has always been a major aspect of this project.

Notice the ghostly towers rising at the rear!

Robert Azzopardi8:08 pm 29 Dec 21

Undertake some research

Even the burley Griffen plan had apartment blocks (well high density than standard housing) in this area.

What that plan doesn’t show of course is the 4/6 lane Parkes Way that separates the lake from the city. But guess that’s ok to many.

So where’s the “generous” public park with at least 55 metres guaranteed public access to the waterfront. It looks suspiciously like the ACT Government vision is for concessions, bars, cafes and concert venues inside the so-called public space. All the rest of the new land behind the “permanent” landscaped area will likely be open for developers to maximise land value uptake (i.e. more low quality high density apartments).

200 square meters of commercial space within a 40 000 sq meter park? Outrageous! They might as well pave the entire space!

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