24 April 2019

Commonwealth puts prime Barton site on the market

| Ian Bushnell
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The site in Barton, taken from National Circuit looking to Sydney Avenue. Photo: George Tsotsos.

A prime but controversial parcel of Commonwealth land in Barton has been put on the market, with scope for several development uses.

The just over one-hectare vacant block on the corner of National Circuit and Sydney Avenue has environmental and heritage value but the Department of Finance in February received environmental approval, with conditions, to dispose of the land.

It is now being marketed by Deloitte as an opportunity to develop a significant office, hotel, residential or mixed-use project of considerable scale close to the Canberra CBD, Parliament House and several Commonwealth Government Agencies.

“The National Capital Plan contemplates a range of uses for the site, consistent with the surrounding development which includes residential, national capital use, commercial office, hotel and ancillary uses (including car parking, retail and cafes/restaurants),” the listing says.

“The offering provides a significant development opportunity which will contribute to the further activation of the Barton precinct.”

Finance’s plans for the site go back to 2017 and Cox Architecture, in a preliminary document for the Department, said the site could yield up to 425 apartments over six storeys.

However the block’s environmental restraints include endangered natural temperate grassland and the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth, and Finance’s plans for the site attracted criticism from the Friends of Grasslands group, which also found the conditions attached to the approval wanting.

These conditions include offsetting the loss of land, which will have to be cleared, with an area at Hall, and Finance having to provide $100,000 for research.

The FOG notes the amount of open space and habitat already lost in the Barton area and says the “location of York Park Grassland within the National Triangle is iconic, representing the last but one remnant of the extensive area of natural grassland within central Canberra that have not been destroyed. Thus it has clear heritage values, which will be lost as a result of destruction of the site.

“Offsetting will not result in net gain, as the offset site already exists and already supports this ecological community and the species. There is no surety that the proposed offsets will actually be effective.”

The outcome of the election is not expected to affect the sale but development of the site will need National Capital Authority approval.

The sale of the 1.16ha block is by tender, closing on 16 May 2019.


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