In its infancy, Braddon was a suburb designed for car yards, garages and petrol stations. That image soon changed into one resembling a hipster retreat as entrepreneurs rolled in with their rows of artisan coffee roasters, unconventional cafés and trendy dining venues.
Now the inner-north suburb is set for its latest evolution, with the City Renewal Authority planning to make Braddon more pedestrian-friendly and improve the suburb’s public spaces while retaining its “gritty” roots.
As pop-up gardens, parklets and street art begin to spring up across Braddon, the authority is hoping that a revamping of one of the city’s busiest precincts will accommodate its growing population.
One man who is happy to see the changing face of Braddon is Damien Maher, chair of the Braddon Precinct. Mr Maher has been a business owner in Braddon for the past eight years and is excited to see the changes develop.
“I think I speak on behalf of the other building owners and traders that I have spoken to when I say something needs to change,” Mr Maher said. “Everyone is positive about the change but it will be hard to make everyone happy.
“Braddon is not blind to progress. It has changed a lot and I think everyone is going to embrace that change, as long as it doesn’t turn into Bunda Street or a textbook carbon-copy cutout of the ACT Government’s placemaking plan.”
Few suburbs have changed and evolved as much as Braddon over the last few years and as the suburb prepares for its new makeover, Mr Maher hopes one thing will stay the same.
“The one thing about Braddon which I hope always stays is the fact that it has been organic,” he shared. “It has grown from nothing and hasn’t had any government intervention or assistance which is very unusual for Canberra because the government has always played a part in how the city was designed.
“So far to date, all the changes have been consulted by the businesses and traders. As long as those young, fresh and edgy businesses keep giving their input, I think Braddon will remain an excellent place which people will love to visit.”
The rainbow roundabout, which was painted to celebrate Canberra overwhelmingly saying ‘yes’ to same-sex marriage, has been identified as a potential obstacle to the authority’s plan. When asked if the well-known roundabout will be sacrificed with the changing times, Mr Maher was afraid it will have to go.
“The roundabout is iconic, I get that but things change. I hope they don’t get rid of it but roundabouts are not pedestrian friendly,” he said. “I cross that roundabout every day to get to work and sometimes you take your life into your own hands the way they come flying through. Something needs to be done.”
Are you excited about the plans for Braddon’s new makeover? What changes are you keen to see and what are you sad to see go?