Northbourne Avenue commercial property owners may be divided on the technology, project timing and future routes of light rail but they generally believe it will be good for Canberra, according to Colliers International Research.
Colliers International said its ACT Light Rail Survey revealed that commercial property owners believe the major infrastructure project is likely to provide a significant economic boost to local business, employment and encourage further investment in the CBD and ACT region from interstate and overseas.
Manager at Colliers International, Matthew Winter, said there was strong consensus about the benefits of the project but some respondents were concerned about the long-term viability of the project given newer technologies such as autonomous (self-drive) cars and bus rapid transit may supersede light rail once construction of the entire network is completed.
He said there were varying positions on when the next stages should be introduced and which town centres should be priorities.
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“Despite not necessarily supporting the proposed technology, half the owners surveyed said now is the right time for light rail to be implemented and indicated the project would serve as a catalyst to reinvigorate tired gateways,” Mr Winter said.
Thirty-three per cent of owners indicated the light rail network should expand from the CBD to Woden next, with 30 per cent preferring Canberra Airport.
Mr Winter said almost half the owners surveyed felt light rail would have little to no impact on traffic congestion, a fundamental objective of the infrastructure project.
“Given Canberra’s perceived growth forecasts and the volume of residential dwellings forecast for Northbourne Avenue, the project, acting as a catalyst for major urban infill, could potentially lead to more traffic along the corridor,” Mr Winter said.
But they believed Canberrans would use light rail to commute to and from work, assuming the stops were near office locations and the Government provides viable Park and Ride solutions.
Mr Winter said owners believed a lack of information on transit times and fares may cause commuters to choose to take the car, finding it a cheaper and more direct option despite traffic congestion.
He said owners believed overwhelmingly that light rail would improve the value of their property.
“This seems to support the notion that further amenity and infrastructure along the corridor will have a positive benefit for owners through improved tenant retention, increased accessibility, and provide a solution to the current parking shortage, particularly in areas such as Braddon,” he said.
The report revealed that after the announcement of Stage 1 of the project, 50 percent of property owners along the Northbourne Avenue and Flemington Road corridor investigated developing or selling their building for residential purposes.
“Given the strategic land release program of the ACT Government along Northbourne Avenue and Flemington Road, many owners noted the likely demand from developers for these opportunities and had investigated possible options,” Mr Winter said.