10 March 2021

Community council says infrastructure is the key to Belconnen Town Centre land release

| Ian Bushnell
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Lake Ginninderra and Belconnen Town Centre

Lake Ginninderra and Belconnen Town Centre: new land releases offer opportunity to link precincts. Photo: Geocon.

The signs are looking good that the Belconnen Town Centre urban renewal program will deliver a good outcome for the community but the clear message to the ACT Government is that it must not end up like Woden where community facilities have not kept pace with high-rise residential development.

The Suburban Land Agency has identified three parcels of land for release and has gone to the community asking what it would like to see in these areas.

The three parcels are the Circus and former water police sites on Emu Bank and the Lathlain Street strip on the former police and emergency services site, and the SLA is now in the co-design phase of the engagement program ahead of a Place Design Brief being released in April.

Lathlain Street, with an increasing mix of business, community and residential uses, and the Circus Land Release Sites are zoned CZ2 Business Zone and CZ1 Core Zone, while the Former Water Police Land Release Site is zoned CZ6 Leisure and Accommodation.

Feedback so far has included calls for an intimate urban experience, better connections between precincts, open and green spaces and activated street fronts including cafes, restaurants and bars.

Belconnen Community Council chair Glen Hyde said he was happy with the consultation so far and the SLA had done well to identify the land parcels, how they connect with other infrastructure and possible impacts for ongoing use.

He said the council wanted to see all the precincts linked up so there was a unified Town Centre from Coulter Drive to the expanded University of Canberra.

“After a decade of master planning consultation and precinct coding, we want to see something that provides community facilities, good quality access, and link the mall and then the rest of the precinct together all the way down to the university – a safe environment, a readily accessible environment for all users and giving people active travel options,” he said.

Land release sites in Belconnen

The land release sites in Belconnen. Image: ACT Government.

But it did not want further high-rise development that boosted the Town Centre’s population without the community facilities and spaces to service those residents.

“The thing that we’re most focused on is that we don’t have another Cirrus project [two waterfront towers] go up somewhere which for all intents and purpose will be wonderful for the residents who are in there but where do they take their kids, what are their options to go and have recreation,” Mr Hyde said.

This planning for community infrastructure had not been done well during the building boom under the Barr Government, he said.

“We got people in to build but what we didn’t do was properly map out what support needs to be there when we bring more people in,” Mr Hyde said.

Mr Hyde said this development phase also needed to be better managed to minimise the kind of traffic disruption that had marked the construction of Geocon’s High Society precinct nearby, saying there was a broader lesson to be learned for the urban infill program.

“Traffic disruption has to be first thing that’s looked at. It’s a part of the process we need to do a bucket-load more work on,” he said.

To learn more go to the government’s YourSay website.

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Hello riotact. This “Belconnen Community Council ” isn’t elected and shouldn’t be considered a representative of Belconnen.

A focus on the Belconnen Town Centre is great, and its good to see that the government is keen to make it a better place, however, they miss the mark.
The big problem with the town centre is that Benjamin Way splits the town centre into two parts. Development is happening on both sides, which further exemplifies the divide, and moving between both sides feels awkward as both sides are disconnected. The push to boost development on the Lathlain street side also pushes the focus away from the town centres best asset – the Lake edge and the original pedestrian links through to the park. The Achilles heel of the town centre is the mall – it’s where most people go but it completely disconnects people from what could happen outside and on the street. Public activation to Benjamin Way, re-imagining it as an urban high street that is connected to the lake, the arts centre and links both sides is the key. It makes its a special place in the heart of the Town Centre. A master plan and place plan proposal to do this has been presented to the BCC and the ACT Government, and although it was positively received it has fallen on death ears in preference of band-aid solutions, “develop a site here and there, some street trees here, some upgraded footpaths there – pretty it up and maybe the problem will disappear.”

carl francia11:17 am 11 Mar 21

Belconnen town centre already has a bus interchange, a swimming pool, a school, a police station, a community centre, an arts centre, a library, an AccessCanberra shopfront, a walk-in health centre and a massive park. We don’t really need many more community facilities or open space.

I totally agree about the need for more street activation (as with the rest of Canberra, the shopping centre sucks the life out of the area) but the best way to do that is to increase the local population, so there are more customers for more shops, restaurants and bars. I’d love to see all the fast food joints along Emu Bank drive replaced with mid rise apartments and hotels, with bars & restaurants facing the boardwalk.

“New land releases offer opportunity to link precincts” What a joke!
Several years ago, Mr Hyde took great pride in the wonderful , integrated Belco centre plan. When I pointed out the problems with it, he told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about. A suggestion was for one-way traffic circulation, a connected bike-network, and bus interchanges that moved traffic quickly through the centre.
In 2021, it is appropriate to ask where the new open-spaces/parks are to be, and come clean on shifting/demolishing the library /community centre.

To be fair, I didn’t say you didn’t know what you were talking about, I said you didn’t have all the information. But like everyone else you have an opinion that has value. So why not join the BCC Committee and value add to our community in a different way?

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