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Are Canberrans a bunch of NIMBYs?

By GnT - 26 August 2009 50

There have been a couple of issues floating around recently which has made me realise just how anti-development Canberrans tend to be. First, there’s the immigration bridge which seems to be condemned as an ‘eyesore’, despite no firm design having been put forward; then there’s the new ASIO building which is apparently going to be a ‘monstrosity’; and now there’s the debate over the demolition of the old bus depot building at Kingston, which some believe should be heritage listed.

In fact, I am struggling to find a development in Canberra recent years that has had community support. From public artwork to residential towers to war memorials, everything seems to have a swathe of public opinion against it.

My own opinion? It would be useful to have a foot bridge linking both sides of the lake, especially for tourists and it could add to the aesthetics of the lake. It’s important for government departments to have practical working office space. And it would be lovely to have a new building for the award winning markets, which could give more space for stall holders, better access and parking for shoppers, and a nicer climate and atmosphere, while allowing some new architecture and useful development to be built on the lake foreshore.

I want to live in a city which is vibrant and changing, which takes on new ideas and adapts to our shifting cultural needs, which respects tradition but isn’t stuck in the past, and which demonstrates a broad range of artistic taste.

What’s Your opinion?


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50 Responses to
Are Canberrans a bunch of NIMBYs?
chewy14 11:25 am 26 Aug 09

phototext said :

It is all very well developing but there needs to be a balance between keeping the old and building the new, otherwise we end up living in a very boring place.

What do you mean otherwise we und up living in a very boring place?
I think that Canberra is currently so far out of balance that boring is exactly what we are.
Everytime some new development or event is planned in Canberra there is guaranteed to be a chorus of whinging from some minority group. Then all they need is some small amount of publicity and the new development/event gets canned because the government can’t be bothered dealing with the trouble.
If whinging was an Olympic sport, some Canberrans would be multiple gold medallists.

trevar 11:01 am 26 Aug 09

I don’t know that it’s unique to Canberra. I don’t know of any development, anywhere, that had support from absolutely everyone who lived in its vicinity. Some people will like them, some won’t; and those who dislike a particular design will always be more vocal. The balance comes when a proposal’s supporters decide whether to respond to its detrators or not. In the case of the ASIO building design, I happen to like it, but not enough to say so in any particularly vehement way. It’s nice. A bit funky, but I wouldn’t feel any sense of loss if it wasn’t built.

I’m not so fond of the notion of an immigration bridge over which it is possible to migrate from the northside to the southside or vice-versa, but not with any of your furniture. I still think that an immigration bridge would be more useful between Indonesia and northern Australia. That would be much more practical than the current arrangements.

smilesr 10:47 am 26 Aug 09

I think its because Canberra is so new compared to other Australian cities people want to hang on to any little piece of “heritage” to have a sense of history. No matter how crappy that piece of “heritage” may seem.

Growling Ferret 10:43 am 26 Aug 09

Bus Depot markets has charm that Bland Depot or DFO could never have. There are too few ‘old buildings’ in Canberra and this is a good community use of ‘historic’ space.

The Immigration bridge is unneccessary – it cuts the lake, goes from a place nobody is (Lennox Gardens) to a place nobody goes (National Museum).

The ASIO building may end up to be ‘beautiful’, but for security reasons surely it could have been out near the other Defence Buildings at Bungendore rather than destroying parkland.

I have no problems with the Civic Redevelopment (except for the loss of parking), with Kingston Foreshore housing, Burnie Court getting razed and rebuilt to something decent etc.

But some things in Canberra are poorly concieved or pig ugly – Sky Plaza is pig ugly, and Gungahlin marketplace was poorly designed for a windy location.

phototext 10:25 am 26 Aug 09

“And it would be lovely to have a new building for the award winning markets, which could give more space for stall holders, better access and parking for shoppers, and a nicer climate and atmosphere, while allowing some new architecture and useful development to be built on the lake foreshore.”

HA !

Like that would happen.

Apart from what I consider the charm that the current building adds to the markets, a new building will be built on the cheap, with little regard for the stall holders or customers needs. No doubt it will be ugly and useless and kill off the markets thus ensuring they can sell of the land to be developed.

I’m all for new and funky architecture, they make great subjects to photograph. ASIO will be off limits though.

It is all very well developing but there needs to be a balance between keeping the old and building the new, otherwise we end up living in a very boring place.

sepi 10:21 am 26 Aug 09

There was a funny little article in the CT yesterday about a site in O’connor on the ridge that is going to be demolished and returned to bushland. (41 Fairfax st)

http://www.companionhouse.org.au/contact.html (this org will move to Cook)

I found that bizarre that this govt would give up a prime real estate possie in O’connor, when they are desperate to develop any other land they can think of in the inner suburbs. I still can’t think of a reason for them to return this little bit of land to bushland.

S4anta 9:54 am 26 Aug 09

To answer your title, yes.

it has been long lamented that canberrans can best be described as obstructionist when it comes to infrastructure, events and major spends sorted in their neck of the woods.

Punter 9:51 am 26 Aug 09

Perhaps being opposed to something is better news than suppporting something. It could be only the whingers opinions have the voice.

Pot Holes 9:51 am 26 Aug 09

Yes

Thumper 9:38 am 26 Aug 09

I agree with VY. Bad planning or very little thought.

OBD example smacks of little thought except money and it would appear that you (GnT) have not taken into consideration the ambience of the markets. A big tin shed does not make a market.

As for the ASIO building, bring it on. Once it’s built I doubt it will be an eyesore. In fact it probably look quite impressive.

I should add that no-one complained about the new Portrait Gallery.

Development needs to have a careful balance between the need to develop, and the need to retain older, but no less important buildings, sites or precincts. Money, or the prospect of receiving it, although an important aspect, should not be the number one reason for development.

Secret Squirrel 9:34 am 26 Aug 09

Gnt, have you not lived in Canberra for long? Canberrans complain about EVERYTHING!!!

pptvb 9:32 am 26 Aug 09

CAVE people….. Citizens Against Virtually Everything.

hax 9:29 am 26 Aug 09

I worry if people will allow Canberra to evolve into a ‘futuristic’ city, but I also agree that a lot of the planning isn’t exactly visionary.

There needs to be a proper modern master plan, which we can all (mostly) agree on, and then work towards with some pride? Where’s the passion to be an awesome modern city?

Removing some archaic restrictions might be a good start too

TP 3000 9:16 am 26 Aug 09

The first 2 of the Bridge & ASIO building I don’t get why people are complaining as the bridge sounds like a good idea & ASIO already have a building at the other end of the Russel Precinct. However the Kingston Depot was a part of Canberra’s history & all they want to do is replace it with birdcages.

However when I think about it everyone in Canberra isn’t opposed to development. I am quite sure everyone would be glad to see those Housing Commission flats of Northbourne Ave replaced or those fully cement office blocks to be knocked down. But Governments will only do what will win them votes at the next election & that their friends can make millions on.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 8:59 am 26 Aug 09

A lot of people are opposed to development in this town because it is often not well thought out.

I wrote a bunch of examples then deleted what I wrote, because I figure it will just start arguments that inevitably turn personal.

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