30 October 2022

Belconnen's future is soaring as a new Westfield takes shape

| Ian Bushnell
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Westfield Belconnen vision

A potential Westfield Belconnen of the future. Photos: Scentre Group.

Westfield Belconnen is reimagining how it will fit in with the Belconnen Town Centre of the future. It’s now released concept images, including much higher buildings, to seek feedback from the community about what should be on offer.

Owner Scentre Group confirmed it would apply next year for a Territory Plan variation to change the building heights on its site to match that of its neighbours.

Heights were currently limited to four storeys, which restricted the site’s potential according to Scentre Group.

“The height restrictions we’re proposing are consistent with what is permissible today in the area,” a company spokesperson said.

Scentre Group is leaving those options open, but taller buildings will allow it to invest in offices and apartments.

The concept image shows a future Westfield including more green space, leisure areas, street-facing retail and greater connections to the community around it.

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The spokesperson said with the Belconnen population to grow by an expected 13 per cent by 2032, the Town Centre would need to offer more for those who visited, learned, worked, dined, shopped and lived there in the future.

The plans respond to Belconnen’s growing population and are driven by Scentre Group’s long-term strategy to change how it does business and connects with the community.

It wants to turn its big, sealed and self-contained boxes inside out, following the trend started years ago in the US to make the insular shopping mall face outward, with active retail and hospitality frontages.

Westfield Belconnen plans.

A site map shows some of the improvements envisaged.

Scentre Group now calls its shopping centres “living centres” to emphasise this new philosophy, but even that concept is changing.

Scentre Group Director Development, Stewart White said the company was exploring opportunities to evolve its Canberra living centres into living destinations essential to people, communities and the businesses that interact with them.

“We want to see Westfield Belconnen become a thriving destination that meets the future needs of our community – where people will gather to shop, dine, relax, live, learn and work in the years to come,” Mr White said.

“Understanding the needs and interests of our community is important to us and a fundamental first step in creating a vision of what this centre could look like and offer in the future.

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“We’ve developed artist impressions to really demonstrate what’s possible – including more green space, leisure areas, street-facing shops and dining, better transport and pedestrian connections, sustainability initiatives as well as higher buildings – consistent with what is allowed to be built on neighbouring blocks of land today.”

When the feedback is in, the company will lodge a formal application to the ACT Government to change the Territory Plan to support the planning changes needed to realise its vision for Westfield Belconnen and Belconnen Town Centre.

“We look forward to working closely with the ACT Government and all stakeholders,” Mr White said.

In 2021, more than 8.8 million people visited Westfield Belconnen. Scentre Group also owns Westfield Woden.

Community members can have their say through a survey and pop-up stalls at Westfield Belconnen until 30 November.

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Incidental Tourist1:15 pm 03 Nov 22

Where is the tram?

All in the name of sustainability. Sustainability for developers to earn more while the rest have to put up with increased traffic, more noise and social disruption. Why the ongoing Ponton Barr plan for continuous construction and housing? How about creating Indistries that employ and not depending on housing growth and the consumption cycle as your sole government growth mechanism?

Some moderate rainfall and we design green spaces. Some water restrictions and its back to natives and tanbark.

HiddenDragon9:20 pm 30 Oct 22

Why bother with all the implausible, green-washed imagery and associated blather when most people can see that this boils down to a plan to make vastly more money out of the existing site by whacking up towers on it?

For many, that ambition would not be a great concern if they had confidence that they could go on using the place for the boring, un-cool activities that shopping malls were invented for without having to endure years of disruption and, at the end of it, discover that it will be far less convenient because parking options have been replaced by wellness centres and waxing clinics.

I am disgusted with the labour government. Just about every promise made to us about BELCONNEN has been BROKEN by LABOUR. Height restrictions have a purpose. Building restrictions have a purpose. We are now getting granny flats in the FRONT yard and commercial buildings in BACK yards. Bring back Canberra for Canberra’s people NOT the developers.

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