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Braddon hovering on the cusp

By Paul Costigan - 4 March 2015 23

lonsdale-2015-02-05-02.35.18

There’s a 2008 ACT Planning Report for Braddon in which the key priorities are:

  • To encourage more water- and energy-efficient building design
  • To continue to improve transport and land use planning outcomes
  • To pilot projects to showcase central city development and redevelopment opportunities

The report states that this commercial centre should encourage building forms to ensure a cohesive and distinctive character.

The focus for this article is on the former light commercial centre that is being transformed into a mixed used apartment, business and entertainment/café precinct. According to local mythology, this is one of the hippest places to be and the most exciting urban design developments in Canberra.

All of the above could be true one day, but it ain’t yet.

The rhetoric about the precinct is much greater than the reality. Braddon is in danger of being dominated by mixture of medium and high-rise bland-box buildings.

mort-2015-02-05-11.58.20

The streetscapes are a mess except for the previous large trees that beautifully dominate some sections. As the traffic and residential use has intensified, the previous parking difficulties have now become worse. It is common for vehicles to park anywhere, including on the footpaths.

The top of Lonsdale Street became a buzz with the setting up of the creative pop-up shops. Having attracted more people into the area and increased the value of the land sales, these outlets have now been moved to make way for more apartments.

The cafes in the area are booming and new ones arrive almost ever week. There are so many attractive elements coming together that this precinct could indeed be a sought-after place to live and to visit. The warning is that many precincts throughout Australia have developed similar café/ restaurant style atmospheres only to have them trashed with the arrival of late night bars and rowdy revellers. This has happened in nearby Dickson.

I suspect that Braddon is being managed well as a new precinct but I fear it is not being guided by an overall vision. Such guidance would ensure that the streets do not end up being corridors of the bland-box metal and glass walls. The new buildings should be exemplary in their use of sustainability measures.

The area’s open spaces and pavements need to be rethought. Many are very degraded and dangerous. The government needs to be prepare for insurance claims given how easily it is to trip up, to be obstructed by parked cars on the footpath or to be bumped into by cyclists dashing along the footpath to avoid the heavy traffic in the crammed streets.

Curbside parking should be largely removed and then most of the sidewalks widened for pedestrian use with minimal obstructions. More trees should be then planted. Clutter and excessive number of café tables need to be banned from the sidewalks. A colleague has suggested the introduction of several pedestrian laneways to join Lonsdale Street to Mort Street to encourage people to meander and shop on both streets. All this and redesigned streetscapes would make the precinct a place to promenade, to meet, to socialize and to spend time (and money).

Canberra does not need to hear from any more expensive international fly-in fly-out specialists. Such costly consultancy monies could be spent by the ACT agencies in engaging with local residents, shop owners and designers to bring together the huge amount of creativity and intelligence available already in Canberra.

I remain optimistic that the Braddon precinct could be a wonderful place one day. There are some positive signs of this. But very bland buildings are appearing. We are on the cusp of success—or—on the cusp of delivering an unsustainable collection of open spaces and buildings that will increase, rather than mitigate, the effects of climate change. That will not be a fun place to live and visit.

So far the original 2008 aspirations by the ACT Government remain unfulfilled. Braddon, as with so much of Canberra, desperately needs political vision and leadership. Do we have amongst our local and federally elected politicians, leaders who can be trusted to deliver a sustainable, creative and attractive Braddon precinct?

What’s Your opinion?


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23 Responses to
Braddon hovering on the cusp
rubaiyat 12:53 pm 06 Mar 15

dungfungus said :

There have been some recent fatalities involving buses and pedestrians in Sydney and indeed Canberra.
In my previous comment I was of course alluding to “drunk” pedestrians which will be more prevalent in the hipster environment of Braddon than in George Street Sydney.

Public transport is somehow more dangerous than cars? Really!?

Like the gun lobby justifying their cause with reports of someone beaten to death with a lama cutlet in Peru.

Masquara 11:18 pm 05 Mar 15

Skyring said :

rubaiyat said :

Now, (licks thumb), where is that list of things that can never happen?

Ah! Damn! Pen’s run out again! We got anymore paper? Send a ream.

Anyone able to help @rubaiyat out with a ream?

Torn into quarters and hung off a nail in the dunny? Sure!

Paul Costigan 9:46 pm 05 Mar 15

More about the topic of the developments of the Braddon precinct

and thanks to Mark of Sydney “For a more aesthetically nuanced take on the transformation of Braddon without the emphasis on top down solution (‘an overall vision’) so beloved of the usual suspects, particularly the Greens, see Martyn Jolly’s ‘Braddon, bloody Braddon’ at http://martynjolly.com/2015/02/27/braddon-bloody-braddon/

I agree with most of Martyn Jolly’s piece. But I am not so confident about Braddon not ending up like other developments in other cities, just because “Canberra is different”.

I fear that the ACT Government’s only vision for places such as Braddon is to ‘allow market forces’ to supply whatever they can make money from.

Developers making money (profit) can be managed so that they are happy but we still end up with a successful commercial and visionary precinct.

We do need a vision; one that includes addressing environmental issues, being creative and original and ensuring the precinct is relevant to Canberra – not simply the same that is being plonked into so many inner urban areas elsewhere.

And I agree with Martyn, it would be good to have some of the old stuff kept alongside all the new.

Queanbeyanite 9:08 pm 05 Mar 15

“Do we have amongst our local and federally elected politicians, leaders who can be trusted to deliver a sustainable, creative and attractive Braddon precinct?”

Are you talking about the same people who almost tossed Gus in gaol?

The last thing any town needs is to have the government interfere, and certainly one with a ‘vision’.

If the developers stuff it up they’ll do their dough when no-one moves there.

magell 3:52 pm 05 Mar 15

Perhaps the ACT government or anyone involved in ICLEI and ICLEI+20 discussions (ie. Economic Development Directorate staff posting on this forum) should publically release all correspondence and agreements so far, in support of open government. Only a few scraps of information on the ACT guv website exist.

A document titled “Triple Bottom Line Assessment for the ACT”, it appears ICLEI want to embed their policies into our local council. Notice the words “embed”, “framework”, “checklists” and “reporting guidelines”.

1.1.1 State and territory governments
The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) Oceania has worked with the governments of South Australia (Department of the Premier and Cabinet and Department of Environment and Heritage), Victoria (Department of Primary Industries, Department of Sustainability and Environment and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Victoria) and Queensland (EPA and the Department of Main Roads) to support a TBL reporting approach to government through its Australia New Zealand Reporting Alliance1. The Alliance provided support to address reporting challenges and develop best practice case studies for public sector reporting. ICLEI also worked with Victoria to help it develop TBL tools and capacity building among local governments2.
In 2002, the UN Environment Programme — International Environment Technology Centre (UNEP–IETC) initiated the Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems program, which was responsible, with support from EPA Victoria3, for the development of the Melbourne Principles for Sustainable Cities. These principles were later ‘operationalised’ with the development of a framework for action and a checklist to be used by elected officials to ensure that the principles were embedded in plans and processes. In 2003, the Victorian Local Government (Democratic Reform) Act 2003 required all local councils to consider environmental, social and economic objectives.

In 2004, the ACT Government sought to implement ‘TBL budgeting’ to provide a better context for decision-making and allocation of resources4, and the Western Australian Government’s EPA included TBL in its Preliminary Position Statement No 6: Towards Sustainability5. Also in 2004, the Victorian Auditor-General published an occasional paper, Beyond Triple Bottom Line — Measuring and Reporting on Sustainability, which set out how the Auditor-General’s Office would conduct the auditing of sustainability initiatives.

1.1TBL around the world
1.1.1The Global Reporting Initiative
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has been very important in encouraging TBL reporting around the world, particularly within the private sector. The GRI describes itself as a ‘network-based organization that pioneered the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework.’ The GRI seeks to improve disclosure of environmental, social and governance performance.
At the centre of the GRI’s reporting framework are Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, which provides a comprehensive and detailed set of criteria and other prompts for reporting.

From wiki, “The triple bottom line adds two more “bottom lines”: social and environmental (ecological) concerns.] With the ratification of the United Nations and ICLEI TBL standard for urban and community accounting in early 2007”.

rosscoact 1:41 pm 05 Mar 15

magell said :

If anyone cares to do some research you’ll find that the ACT government has signed us up to the ICLEI program, the planning decisions have already been made for ACT residents, by people in Switzerland or Germany as part of the UN cities planning program. We’ll end up with high density urban slums, highrise apartments, no parking for private vehicles, high utility costs and subsidies for choosing apartments over low density housing.

No matter how trendy braddon or civic may appear in the short term, they will end up like many other areas around the world who’ve following ICLEI planning guidelines – as slums.

To top it all off, a light rail system will be planned to connect these urban slums. At the same time, housing prices, utlitity prices, land taxes and rates are set to increase at such a high rate, that people will no longer be able to afford residential housing or low density apartments. Sounds familiar?

I’d like some real journalists to investigate the ACT governments relationship with ICLEI, including money spent on overseas consultants from ICLEI and secret planning commitments signed by Gallagher to lock us in to international planning arrangements without consulting with local residents. Strange we’ve not heard anything about the most influential party involved in ACT city planning, despite rhetoric of open government and community consultation.

This is a ludicrous mis-interpretation of what ICLEI does. It’s a conspiracy theory not a conspiracy fact.

magell 12:18 pm 05 Mar 15

If anyone cares to do some research you’ll find that the ACT government has signed us up to the ICLEI program, the planning decisions have already been made for ACT residents, by people in Switzerland or Germany as part of the UN cities planning program. We’ll end up with high density urban slums, highrise apartments, no parking for private vehicles, high utility costs and subsidies for choosing apartments over low density housing.

No matter how trendy braddon or civic may appear in the short term, they will end up like many other areas around the world who’ve following ICLEI planning guidelines – as slums.

To top it all off, a light rail system will be planned to connect these urban slums. At the same time, housing prices, utlitity prices, land taxes and rates are set to increase at such a high rate, that people will no longer be able to afford residential housing or low density apartments. Sounds familiar?

I’d like some real journalists to investigate the ACT governments relationship with ICLEI, including money spent on overseas consultants from ICLEI and secret planning commitments signed by Gallagher to lock us in to international planning arrangements without consulting with local residents. Strange we’ve not heard anything about the most influential party involved in ACT city planning, despite rhetoric of open government and community consultation.

dungfungus 8:51 am 05 Mar 15

rubaiyat said :

dungfungus said :

rubaiyat said :

Run the Tram as a kerbside service through Civic up along Lonsdale Street and onto Dickson widening the footpaths for the cafés etc but retaining the centre line of trees.

I believe this whole stretch could become the medium high-rise strip that revitalises the heart of Canberra and provides a lively urban lifestyle for people who don’t want cars and want to walk to where the work and fun is.

Be a great place to launch innovative small enterprises that can lever up on each other, so a FTH NBN backbone should be given priority along with easy connection to the ANU’s facilities.

“Run the Tram as a kerbside service through Civic up along Lonsdale Street and onto Dickson widening the footpaths for the cafés etc but retaining the centre line of trees.”
I know you are joking but if that was a serious suggestion can imagine how many drunks would be run over by the tram?
McCabe’s Marauders would be there handing out visibility vests.

As opposed to the reality of being run over by cars?

George Street, Sydney, all the buses run kerbside.

Now, (licks thumb), where is that list of things that can never happen?

Ah! Damn! Pen’s run out again! We got anymore paper? Send a ream.

There have been some recent fatalities involving buses and pedestrians in Sydney and indeed Canberra.
In my previous comment I was of course alluding to “drunk” pedestrians which will be more prevalent in the hipster environment of Braddon than in George Street Sydney.

Skyring 3:16 am 05 Mar 15

rubaiyat said :

Now, (licks thumb), where is that list of things that can never happen?

Ah! Damn! Pen’s run out again! We got anymore paper? Send a ream.

Anyone able to help @rubaiyat out with a ream?

rubaiyat 5:38 pm 04 Mar 15

dungfungus said :

rubaiyat said :

Run the Tram as a kerbside service through Civic up along Lonsdale Street and onto Dickson widening the footpaths for the cafés etc but retaining the centre line of trees.

I believe this whole stretch could become the medium high-rise strip that revitalises the heart of Canberra and provides a lively urban lifestyle for people who don’t want cars and want to walk to where the work and fun is.

Be a great place to launch innovative small enterprises that can lever up on each other, so a FTH NBN backbone should be given priority along with easy connection to the ANU’s facilities.

“Run the Tram as a kerbside service through Civic up along Lonsdale Street and onto Dickson widening the footpaths for the cafés etc but retaining the centre line of trees.”
I know you are joking but if that was a serious suggestion can imagine how many drunks would be run over by the tram?
McCabe’s Marauders would be there handing out visibility vests.

As opposed to the reality of being run over by cars?

George Street, Sydney, all the buses run kerbside.

Now, (licks thumb), where is that list of things that can never happen?

Ah! Damn! Pen’s run out again! We got anymore paper? Send a ream.

dungfungus 2:59 pm 04 Mar 15

rubaiyat said :

Run the Tram as a kerbside service through Civic up along Lonsdale Street and onto Dickson widening the footpaths for the cafés etc but retaining the centre line of trees.

I believe this whole stretch could become the medium high-rise strip that revitalises the heart of Canberra and provides a lively urban lifestyle for people who don’t want cars and want to walk to where the work and fun is.

Be a great place to launch innovative small enterprises that can lever up on each other, so a FTH NBN backbone should be given priority along with easy connection to the ANU’s facilities.

“Run the Tram as a kerbside service through Civic up along Lonsdale Street and onto Dickson widening the footpaths for the cafés etc but retaining the centre line of trees.”
I know you are joking but if that was a serious suggestion can imagine how many drunks would be run over by the tram?
McCabe’s Marauders would be there handing out visibility vests.

rubaiyat 1:42 pm 04 Mar 15

Run the Tram as a kerbside service through Civic up along Lonsdale Street and onto Dickson widening the footpaths for the cafés etc but retaining the centre line of trees.

I believe this whole stretch could become the medium high-rise strip that revitalises the heart of Canberra and provides a lively urban lifestyle for people who don’t want cars and want to walk to where the work and fun is.

Be a great place to launch innovative small enterprises that can lever up on each other, so a FTH NBN backbone should be given priority along with easy connection to the ANU’s facilities.

Skyring 1:39 pm 04 Mar 15

Mark of Sydney said :

For a more aesthetically nuanced take on the transformation of Braddon without the emphasis on top down solution (‘an overall vision’) so beloved of the usual suspects, particularly the Greens, see Martyn Jolly’s ‘Braddon, bloody Braddon’ at http://martynjolly.com/2015/02/27/braddon-bloody-braddon/

Sad to see “aluminum” creeping into Australian English, following American dates. What next? Fahrenheit and feet?

But, quibbles aside, a sensitive look at the vibrantisation of Braddon. I can’t see this being the model for much of Canberra, as some here would have it.

Agree with two points made above. The streetscape is cluttered and full of trip hazards.

Some laneways between Mort and Lonsdale Streets would work well. On a sunny day, or a chill winter, some Melbourne style lanes could be pleasant havens indeed.

Mark of Sydney 1:15 pm 04 Mar 15

For a more aesthetically nuanced take on the transformation of Braddon without the emphasis on top down solution (‘an overall vision’) so beloved of the usual suspects, particularly the Greens, see Martyn Jolly’s ‘Braddon, bloody Braddon’ at http://martynjolly.com/2015/02/27/braddon-bloody-braddon/

Holden Caulfield 10:57 am 04 Mar 15

There’s no doubt in my mind the main part of Braddon will end up filled wall-to-wall with modern apartment buildings. And when that happens people will complain that its charm has been lost.

If only ACT GovCo didn’t rely so heavily on property development for its revenue.

On the one hand, I like the theory of removing the parking spots in order to better cater to pedestrian/cycle traffic. Alas, we Canberrans are very reluctant to give up our cars and where would we park in the already impossible to park Braddon if the street spaces are taken away.

Having said that, I actually like the urban reality of kerbside parking in Braddon. Let’s not sterilise the place too much.

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