The Australian War Memorial has agreed to an extended consultation period of 20 working days for its $500 million redevelopment project.
Executive Project Director for the Memorial Development Wayne Hitches said the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and the Memorial had agreed that, given the national significance of the project, the extended period was appropriate to allow interested parties time to review the documentation and provide informed comment.
The project was referred to the Environment department under the EPBC Act and declared a controlled action last December, requiring it to be assessed by Preliminary Documentation, the second level of assessment.
In February the Memorial requested a variation to the referral amending the original project area and action based on further design development.
The changes involve the extension and refurbishment of the C.E.W. Bean Building, the construction of a new Bean Research Centre and works in the Memorial grounds.
The Bean Building extension and refurbishment involves 5,115 square metres of new construction works inside and 2,934 square metres of refurbishment across levels 1, 2 and 3, while the Research Centre is 867 square metres in size.
The Memorial says the Bean Building works enables the relocation of back-of house and administrative functions, and optimises the use of space within the Main Memorial Building.
The Research Centre, adjacent to the Bean Building to the east and Poppy’s Cafe to the north, will enclose a small portion of open space in the Eastern Precinct, and be integrated into the Bean Building to provide efficient and secure access to the National Collection.
Outside, the Memorial says changes to the western surface car park will make the main route to the Memorial entrance more intuitive, and a new path from the western surface car park to the new Southern Entrance will provide a safe journey for visitors in all weather, and be accessible by people with a disability.
It says a new path from the tour bus parking area through to the education entrance will remove the requirement for buses to park along the eastern road, improving safety and the connectivity of the precinct, and the western and eastern roads will become shared to improve the pedestrian experience.
The parade ground will be converted to a rectangular shape which the Memorial says is more suitable for ceremonies, consistent with other military parade grounds, and better respecting the north-south axis.
“The Project is progressing well and we are confident the Australian public will find the designs put forward through the EPBC Act process to be a fitting addition to an already world-class institution that tells some of this nation’s most important stories,” Mr Hitches said.
The official plans for the controversial redevelopment include a new southern underground entrance, refurbishment of the main building, a new larger Anzac Hall connected to the main building, an extension to the Bean Building and public realm works.
The project has been criticised for its cost and size, and the proposed demolition of the current award-winning Anzac Hall.
Mr Hitches said the new works did not change the scope of the $498.7 million project, or the nine-year time frame.
“The EPBC Referral Variation to include the CEW Bean building and the Public Realm has been accepted by the department and further detail will be submitted as part of the project’s Preliminary Documentation for review,” he said.
“The full package of Preliminary Documentation, containing the Heritage Impact Assessment which includes the works covered by the variation, will go out for public comment.”
Mr Hitches said the variation did not need to go back to the public for comment, and the inclusion of these works ensured the department could consider the impact of the whole project in one process.
“The proposed works are part of the original scope and fit within the initial project schedule, the only difference is that the Memorial originally intended the EPBC approval to be run in two stages,” he said.
”The Memorial has since opted to change this to an overall submission. There has been no change to the Development Project, or the public’s review opportunity. Rather, this is an update to the EPBC approval process to provide a cumulative view of all Development Project works.”