Community ignored again as West Basin push repeats development sins, say Guardians

Ian Bushnell 22 March 2019 47

A possible City to the Lake future from the tender document.

Government plans to redevelop West Basin into a residential, business and recreational precinct are moving ahead with the City Renewal Authority seeking a consultant to devise a development plan for the key lakeside area.

The Authority has already flagged the possibility of 2000 apartments as part of a major reshaping of West Basin into a waterfront community connected to the city, and tender documents describe the area as ‘unique’ in terms of the Indicative Land Release Program and Government revenue opportunities.

The documents say the successful Place Planning and Urban Design Consultancy team (PPUDC) will be required to deliver a place plan, spatial master plan and urban design framework, that will contribute to the West Basin Review being led by Indesco Pty Limited, with which it will work in tandem.

But the tender details have drawn the ire of the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians, which view them as based purely on commercial priorities and as a rehash of proposals that will mean a loss of amenity and green space, environmental damage, and a rejection of the area’s heritage values.

The documents say the place plan will identify West Basin as a distinctive place within the context of Canberra city and as a desirable waterside community with places to live, work and play.

Described as a key ‘gateway’ to the Canberra CBD and ideally located at the Lake Burley Griffin waterfront, West Basin is seen as largely unrealised with surface car parks and under-utilised open space.

Unoccupied buildings on the site from previous businesses such as boat and bike hire will be demolished, and it is envisaged that under the National Capital Plan about 2.86 hectares of lake bed will be reclaimed to create a lake edge and support development of the proposed waterfront promenade.

Stage 1 of the waterfront project, comprising 150m of new lake wall, boardwalk and Henry Rolland Park has been completed.

The project will require an overhaul of road networks, including Parkes Way, and have to take into account plans for Light Rail stage 2.

The PPUDC will have to consider the lowering of Parkes Way, construction of West Road to connect with London Circuit, a pedestrian path from Marcus Clarke Street, and the extent of any proposed land bridges.

Light rail may restrict turning movements into, and out of, West Basin and also dictate the siting of intersections.

The project will also have to be approved by the National Capital Authority.

The documents say West Basin should be seen in connection to the surrounding areas of Acton, the National Museum of Australia, Australian National University, Civic and Commonwealth Park, as well as looking beyond the boundaries of the existing master plan.

Housing options should be examined including social, affordable and public housing, as well as building density, sustainability, transport and parking, streetscapes, commercial and retail opportunities, and community facilities.

But the Guardians say the Government is still looking to maximise residential development at the expense of open space and that the infilling of the lake to create a concrete lake edge to the extent of West Basin will have detrimental effects on habitat and water quality.

Juliet Ramsay said the Guardians supported a review of West Basin with community involvement but ‘we’re not getting that with this’.

She said the Authority appeared to be using out of date objectives of the National Capital Plan from 2006 and did not take into consideration the impact of climate change and the growing need for recreational green space as the city and Northbourne Avenue filled with new residential development.

She said the constraints identified by the Authority to do with bridging Parkes Way and traffic management issues would be almost insurmountable if it proceeded with development as envisaged.

The Guardians’ Facebook post says: “The document clearly indicates the proposal is based on commercial values and shows no respect for the lake and its lakeshore landscape. The proposal is still relying on the acquisition of 2.86 ha of lakebed, destroying the beaches, the parkland and wildlife habitat.”

They remain opposed to the privatisation of public space ‘which will be needed by future generations of Australians’.

The Guardians say any planning document should start with a set of principles based on the inherent values of West Basin — ‘that is its monumental vistas, its heritage, its landscape and recreation resource, its lake edge wildlife habitat, and its strategic location for the community and visitors’ – not ‘value-laden words and vague ideas’.

They say the area, which many believe has been allowed to run down, can be made vibrant without high density, mixed-use development.

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47 Responses to Community ignored again as West Basin push repeats development sins, say Guardians
Dan Mac Dan Mac 1:03 pm 11 Nov 19

West Basin is a public space. If it is allowed to develop a residential and so called business area by the greedy labour government and commercial developers, This is invasion to public land and takes away basic access rights from the majority Canberrans. This area should a public relaxation and recreation area where underground carpark, children play, garden, picnic and BBQ should be built for the public.

Queanbeyanite Queanbeyanite 3:49 pm 30 Mar 19

I can’t work it out, why would people who vote Greens oppose it? They voted for it?

mark boast mark boast 10:27 am 29 Mar 19

I’m still go with the concept but disappointed that the obvious challenges that were pointed at the time this was first proposed have not been answered. Parkes Way and to a lesser extent, Northbourne Avenue, not only cut off the development area but also force it to fit too much into a confined space. Service roads, bike paths, lake edge facilities etc. Solve the big road issues and I think you have the route to a more coherent and purposeful extension of the city centre.

BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 6:10 pm 28 Mar 19

Went to Kingston Foreshore recently with visitors to Canberra. It’s ugly, overcrowded and uninspiring. Most people who go there do so for the glassworks and market, not the lake shore, architecture or cafes, many of which were closed. The lake water was putrid.

Went on the lake cruise so got to see the apartments from the lake and, on a very nice sunny day, did not see a single individual out on any of the hundreds of balconies.

And by the way, open spaces are by definition underused. If you like crowded spaces where you see the same people all the time then this kind of development is for you, but then it really could be anywhere because for that lifestyle the lake is irrelevant.

Morgan Morgan 10:19 pm 25 Mar 19

One of the failings of our city is that the lack of local government gives rise to organisations like the Guardians, Community Councils. They pretend to speak for us, but I don’t know who they are, I didn’t vote for them.

I went for a walk to Kingston the other night and I think it looks great. Maybe I am a philistine, (I also like the tram). I remember what Kingston swamp/foreshore used to look like. The lake has plenty of plain windswept grass spaces, but some buildings and life would add to the amenity.

David2424 David2424 9:31 pm 25 Mar 19

Those who have followed “Lake Burley Griffin Guardians” know they do not stand for democratic community interests. They are a narrow-minded, NIMBY, anti-development, vested interest group. They want unused areas to remain unused. If the “Guardians” wish to speak on behalf of the community they should go out and get elected.

    slovenia slovenia 3:20 pm 30 Mar 19

    I want to clarify that the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians are not anti-development and we don’t want unused areas to remain unused. But we do want to keep West Basin park for the people of Canberra to enjoy and not have private apartments in this area. We would like to see this precious piece of land near the City Centre imaginatively landscaped for all to enjoy.

    Arjay Arjay 9:44 am 02 Apr 19

    Penny, you know full well that the current plans for West Basin feature a 55-metre wide public waterfront promenade extending from Lawson Crescent to Albert Street. Why don’t the Lake Guardians just admit that their opposition to this project has nothing to do with public access to the lake shores, which will be protected even if this project proceeds, and everything to do with their own personal preference to see this area remain as an isolated pocket of informal man-made landscaping?

Rod Holesgrove Rod Holesgrove 2:09 pm 25 Mar 19

Justin I agree with you.I’m not sure why West Basin is so important to some - it is a pretty ordinary slip of lakeside land that most people have never gone to or would want to in its current state .There is plenty of other pleasant open Lakeside areas

    Penny Moyes Penny Moyes 3:26 pm 30 Mar 19

    West Basin is important to me Rod because it is an inner city park are that should be kept as a park for all to use - not for private apartments. It looks terrible now as two businesses were closed down by the Government and no maintenance has been done on it for ages. We don't need to the Government spending 31 Million to fill in part of the lake here so the developers can again have their patch up land to put up apartments. Happy to have some public development but with imaginative landscaping.

    Rod Holesgrove Rod Holesgrove 7:34 pm 01 Apr 19

    Penny Moyes yes some landscape improvements to the west basin would be good , I agree. I can see what you are getting at!

Harold Schranz Harold Schranz 1:08 am 25 Mar 19

Another Mistake By The Lake like Kingston we do not need! Any development needs to done with sensitivity ... look at some other fantastic case studies in Europe ... parts of Sweden, Germany and Austria are good examples. The key part is to put community first and use Nature inspired design that enhances the social fabric. A byproduct will be a healthier society and a place to relax. Kingston has nothing that qualifies as a foreshore ... crumbling waterfront doesnt count.

Babs Mabbs Babs Mabbs 8:10 pm 24 Mar 19

Truly, that lake is flat. It’s nice but nothing to write home about. #justsaying

Justin Watson Justin Watson 2:31 pm 24 Mar 19

I like how community groups form because they don't like something and then assume they speak for everyone when they get ignored. We definitely need more facilites on the lake and to use the lake more than we do now. Most visitors to Canberra can't believe the lake of lakeside dining, or even the scarcity of coffee etc by the lake. In every other city around the world the waterfront is where the action is. In Canberra apparently its only there to be looked at and not used.

    Michael Hazell Michael Hazell 3:11 pm 24 Mar 19

    and dont you dare think about having fun near or in it!

    Geoff Withers Geoff Withers 3:30 pm 24 Mar 19

    Justin Watson spot on

    Kim Rawlings Kim Rawlings 3:47 pm 24 Mar 19

    Justin Watson agree

    Andrea Lloyd Andrea Lloyd 5:30 pm 24 Mar 19

    Justin Watson I agree we need more facilities near the lake, cafes, proper parks, play grounds etc but not towering apartment blocks which will cut off access to the community. Maybe Govt officials should look at South Bank in Brisbane or all the work being done on the Sunshine Coast.😁

    Babs Mabbs Babs Mabbs 8:12 pm 24 Mar 19

    Justin Watson it would be good to have a coffee by the

    Lake on weekends. But it’s flat, still water so let’s not get too excited #justsaying

    John Garvey John Garvey 8:14 pm 24 Mar 19

    Yep, Burley Griffin Guardians. A handful of self-appointed busybodies appalled that the Govt is not listening to _them_.

Kurt Halbauer Kurt Halbauer 1:33 pm 24 Mar 19

I'm more concerned that the proposed stadium looks like a toilet 😂

Sacha Blumen Sacha Blumen 12:53 pm 24 Mar 19

It'll be great to have activity and life on the lake's edge

Caroline Hennessy Caroline Hennessy 12:52 pm 24 Mar 19

A little concerned how they’re going to feel about the whopping big bat camp next door in Regatta Point

Andrea Lloyd Andrea Lloyd 12:06 pm 24 Mar 19

Another disaster like Kingston foreshore in the making. Enough of developers controlling Canberra planning! So sick of this!

    Andrea Lloyd Andrea Lloyd 12:33 pm 24 Mar 19

    Daniel Königs it is so crowded, canyons of feature-less buildings. However if you like that, good luck to you 😁

    Mirjam Herzog Mirjam Herzog 11:55 pm 24 Mar 19

    Daniel Königs Some apartments there are just seriously overpriced and sh*tdesigned, but most shocking is the overall ugliness as seen for example from King's bridge... I know though people enjoying life there, so I wouldn't say it's all bad...

    Harold Schranz Harold Schranz 8:29 am 25 Mar 19

    Daniel Königs Self evident ... compare with any decent Nature inspired design that enhances the social fabric. Kingston has nothing that qualifies as a foreshore ... crumbling waterfront doesn't count. Kingston is actually theft from the community amenity of the Lake.

Mark Craswell Mark Craswell 11:52 am 24 Mar 19

To encourage good design and keep it, perhaps we need to adopt the inner Sydney model of completions and government panels of designers to help ensure better design outcomes

Sean Lawson Sean Lawson 10:55 am 24 Mar 19

2000 more places for people to live near the city and major transit corridor, and a centrally located stadium? Looks fantastic to me

    Mirjam Herzog Mirjam Herzog 11:49 pm 24 Mar 19

    Sean Lawson so roughly 4000 more people enjoying future stadium events from their homes and all the beauty of a major thoroughfare from their fantastic Aussie-standard double-glazed windows...

    Sean Lawson Sean Lawson 12:09 am 25 Mar 19

    Mirjam Herzog nobody said you had to move there lol

Drew Reis Drew Reis 10:48 am 24 Mar 19

We need super slim towers draped in flora. Not giant, hideous, soviet style, short, wide, view-blocking behemoths.

Can we get architects from the UAE and around the world please? Before it’s too late and all the good locations are tarnished and opportunities gone?

    Lisa Green Lisa Green 11:04 am 24 Mar 19

    Agree, getting the general aesthetic and liveability for residents is essential.

    Hamish Lardi Hamish Lardi 11:30 am 24 Mar 19

    Drew Reis developers won’t employ world renown architects unless we abolish LVC and reduce height set backs.

    Uy Nguyen Uy Nguyen 2:03 pm 24 Mar 19

    Drew Reis the architecture in Canberra are developer driven.. quick simple build for high profits. Only a small handful of developers don’t follow this model.

    Drew Reis Drew Reis 3:07 pm 24 Mar 19

    We need to make sure we get the right international architects here.

    How I see it is, this city was designed by a international visionary. I think it’s wise to continue to do so...

    Stop short sighted filth and have some respect for the potential architectural quality and aesthetics of this city - the national capital of a very modern, global middle power...

Drew Reis Drew Reis 10:46 am 24 Mar 19

Kingston Foreshore has been developed so its only fair. The lake is not only for the wealthy in Kingston.

    Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 11:09 am 24 Mar 19

    Drew this will be for the wealthy. Who but the wealthy will be able to afford to buy one.

    Drew Reis Drew Reis 11:21 am 24 Mar 19

    Im hoping there will be a dynamic mix in every sense, far from the likes of Kingston Foreshore...

    Andrew Satrapa Andrew Satrapa 11:45 am 24 Mar 19

    Drew Reis - will never happen; when there is any sort of site overlooking lakes or the sea, that's where the rich will gather and the less-rich will be excluded - Kingston Foreshore showed that.

    Emmac Ph Emmac Ph 1:58 pm 24 Mar 19

    Drew Reis what Andrew Satrapa said

    Mirjam Herzog Mirjam Herzog 11:57 pm 24 Mar 19

    Drew Reis New to Canberra or just idealistic?

    Chris Endrey Chris Endrey 10:01 am 25 Mar 19

    If this development is of mixed affordability I will walk backwards into hell (my home in charming North Lyneham).

    Mark Dando Mark Dando 5:06 pm 25 Mar 19

    Chris Endrey might not apply to you, but I love it how cashed-up NIMBYs in inner Canberra sneer at those people who want to live just as close in but can't afford to buy or rent a detached house and are happy to live in an apartment. Mine is comfortable but not luxurious on the Foreshore, and I doubt whether there's one detached house in the Green Republic of North Canberra that's worth less.

Arjay Arjay 9:29 am 24 Mar 19

I think the reason that the Lake Guardians have consistently failed to gain any traction on this issue is because they fundamentally misunderstand how most Canberrans interact with West Basin. For the overwhelming majority of people who actually live here, it is nothing more than a place you pass by on the way to somewhere much nicer. If people want nice parklands, they have Commonwealth and Kings Parks. If people want nice vistas, they have Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and Mount Ainslie. If people want nice “beaches”, they have the other 98% of the Lake Burley Griffin. No one, apart from this small group of noisy “residents”, will actually miss any of the “values” listed here when West Basin is transformed into something that is actually appreciated and used by a far greater number of Canberrans.

    Jim9 Jim9 11:09 am 25 Mar 19

    Spot on Arjay.

    While I always agree when people say development etc needs to be well considered and appropriately done (and many of the suggestions that we have seen are not that), I fail to truly comprehend what the massive outratge about West Basin is. Its one of the most underutilised parts of the City Centre – there is simply no significant use of the lakeside at that point.

    If someone wants to come up with a wonderful proposal for how that area can be far better utilised than it is now that doesn’t involve massive development – then go for your life, and I’d be happy to support it.

    But to suggest its some form of treasure that is going to be lost is a gross misrepresentation. A bit like the old ‘Dickson Parklands’, where there has been a concerted effort to derail development of a site well placed for medium density development.

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