The lodging of a works application for the second stage of the West Basin boardwalk development has reignited the bitter row over the ACT Government’s plans for the key lakeside area.
City Renewal Authority CEO Malcolm Snow’s claim on ABC Radio this morning that a small group of opponents want to keep the Acton waterfront as it is has provoked a withering response from the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians, who for years have been fighting development plans that will include multi-storey apartment blocks.
The Guardians’ Juliet Ramsay said the group had always recognised that Acton Park had great potential to be an attraction for the community and visitors alike, but the ACT Government had for several years ignored it and implied that the Guardians would like the place left in a time warp.
”The ACT Government is now pushing the development as the natural extension of Henry Rolland Park which is a concrete-dominated pocket park with a gym and designer barbecues,” she said.
”The shared bike/car and pedestrian traffic arrangement is an accident waiting to happen and the viewing platform extending into the lake has damaged the clear water plane of the water axis viewed from Acton Peninsula.”
Ms Ramsay said the National Capital Authority had failed in its obligation to protect the area’s heritage and continually doctored the National Capital Plan to accommodate the development plan.
”The NCA and the Board should be thrown out,” she said.
The works approval is for a 500 metre by 8.1 metre-wide extension of the boardwalk extending north from Henry Rolland Park, street lighting and street furniture, the removal of 120 trees, demolition of the former boat hire building and jetty, and land reclamation works between the current lake edge and the newly constructed boardwalk.
It is part of an overall plan for a public park and spaces in front of possibly 2000 apartments.
Mr Snow said the CRA was creating a place for all Canberrans that prioritised public access and would be another events venue by the lake, with any future development set substantially back from the waterfront.
”We see it as a new destination not only for locals but visitors,” he said.
He said the area where residential development was planned was an unpleasant area of car parks, and 30 per cent of that would be public spaces, including a network of streets and lanes linking back to the city centre.
”What’s important, though, is that as the city moves down to the lake edge we manage the height and form of development, and that the maximum height will only be no more than six or seven storeys and step down to the lake edge,” he said.
But there would be a 50-metre park perimeter by the lake.
Ms Ramsay said the proposed lake infill extended out 80 metres but the public would lose 10.8 hectares of parkland for a 25-metre strip that includes a promenade and bike path and occasional cafes all sitting over lake infill. The infill would need to settle for two years and most of the development was to provide services for the anticipated 2000-odd apartments.
”The public is being sold a pup with [the government] just advertising the waterfront with more space from the infill that will take two years to consolidate. But then the apartments will start to take over,” she said.
The Guardians also believe the project was one the ACT could ill-afford and would need the apartments to pay for it.
Ms Ramsay said the outcome would be a worse-than-mediocre development that cast cold winter shadows over the limited public area.
Mr Snow said the plans were consistent with the Griffins’ original idea for the lake, something the Guardians bitterly contest.
”West Basin will be half the size of East Basin so the three-basin lake composition once carefully planned will cease,” Ramsay said.
Mr Snow said the project would be a tightly controlled development under close scrutiny from the NCA and the community.
Future works approvals will be submitted later this year for site establishment, temporary traffic management and construction, temporary landscaping and activation of the reclaimed land. Stormwater works plans are expected to be submitted next year.
The NCA has opened public consultation on the boardwalk extensions and land reclamation project. Submissions will close on 22 May.