Government wants your say on future of Canberra Technology Park site in Watson

Ian Bushnell 12 March 2018 11

Canberra Technology Park. The Academy of Interactive Entertainment wants to redevelop the site as an education precinct. Photos: Supplied.

The ACT Government has launched a public consultation on the future of Canberra Technology Park, on the old Watson High site, prompted by the need to renew its ageing infrastructure and the unsolicited proposal from the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) to purchase the site, renovate existing buildings, and add student accommodation.

The AIE – a video games, animation and visual effects school with other campuses in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – in 2014 unveiled its multi-million dollar plans for the site where it has been operating for the past 20 years.

The next year it submitted a business case and master plan to transform the almost 6ha site into a multi-million dollar education precinct, spending about $111 million over the next 20 years to refurbish and modernise it.

The masterplan also envisaged facilities for the Watson community such as an all access park, dog park, new tennis courts and outdoor gym.

On its Facebook page last week AIE said it planned to make a significant financial investment to modernise and revitalise existing buildings comprising of a new AIE school building, student accommodation, film post-production co-working spaces, game co-working spaces and public green spaces.

“It will create hundreds of jobs and provide students across Australia with amazing opportunities,” AIE said. “We would encourage you to have your say and support our community consultation effort, as this facility is not just for Canberrans but for all of Australia.”

But the Government says it is not consulting on the AIE’s proposal, saying AIE, along with any other interested parties, will be able to take part in any subsequent sale process if there is community support.

“This consultation focuses on whether there is community support to upgrade and renovate this site as a higher education and enhanced community precinct, including student accommodation. If there is support, the feedback we receive from the community will be used to set the parameters of a competitive Request for Tender sale process,” it says.

A concept design for the site.

The Canberra Technology Park site, on the corner of Windeyer Street and Phillip Avenue is a public asset that was once a high school from 1965 to 1988. The Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) took over the site and the AIE and Canberra City Band have been the main tenants since.

Any redevelopment may include multi-storey buildings, with the Government saying that subject to strict planning rules, a multi-level student accommodation facility could allow for more public green space than a lower level building.

“If there is community support to upgrade and renovate this site as a higher education and enhanced community precinct, including student accommodation, the community will continue to have access to attractive and appealing green space. So, we particularly want to know how the community is currently using the public green space on this site, and what improvements they would like to see,” it says.

The site is Community Facilities Zoned (CFZ), which allows buildings that are within 30 metres of a residential block to be a maximum height of two storeys, and those more than 30 metres away to be up to four storeys.

The Government is asking people what improvements they would like to see if it is redeveloped and whether they support the redevelopment of the site as a higher education and enhanced community precinct.

It wants to know what features of the site that should be included in a new development, whether multi-level student accommodation on the site would be supported if it preserves more of the available public green space, and how that existing public green space be enhanced.

Respondents can go to the Your Say website and take the quick poll and Canberra Technology Park survey, drop a comment pin on the interactive map, or fill out the survey. They can also have input by attending community events.

Consultation closes on 16 March.

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11 Responses to Government wants your say on future of Canberra Technology Park site in Watson
Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 7:07 pm 13 Mar 18

Missing: “* Andrew Barr’s government wants your opinion unless you are an ABC audience member, or aged 60 or over, or a Fairfax subscriber”.

Tim Böhm Tim Böhm 5:09 pm 13 Mar 18

Majura Primary School in Watson has 5 brand new kindy classes this year. The most kindy kids in decades (the brand new Amaroo super school only has 6 new kindy classes), with the new development in the area the numbers, are going to increase, planning ahead maybe the space should be saved to be returned to a High School or College in the future? Definitely not sold off in return for some short-term gain or even favours returned (AIE were big donors to ACT Labor in the lead up to 2016 election see Elections ACT website)

Peter Bee Peter Bee 4:22 pm 13 Mar 18

Low cost housing, oh sorry i forgot it will flogged to a developer mate

Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:12 pm 13 Mar 18

It should be retained to be used as a school for the children of the future. This will be sooner than we think according to the excellent ABC Four Corners presentation last night.

Over the past 20 years hundreds of schools in Sydney and Melbourne have been shut down and sold off for residential development. Now, thanks to the highest per-capita migration intake in the western world, large Australian cities are building the schools that are needed as fast as possible. One new school in Melbourne is actually a high rise one with the “playing field” on one of the upper floors. This should never happen in Canberra.

Forget this “enhanced community” nonsense too.

If the government insists on building more apartments why don’t they look to some of the long vacant warehouses in Fyshwick and Hume?

Woody Brenden Woody Brenden 9:50 am 13 Mar 18

A small skate park or multi purpose facility that includes skate elements would be an easy win. Low maintenance, engages young people, provides some natural surveillance and activation of the area.

Elspeth Shannon Rollason Elspeth Shannon Rollason 2:26 am 13 Mar 18

Plenty of gyms already

    Elspeth Shannon Rollason Elspeth Shannon Rollason 6:41 pm 13 Mar 18

    Sadly that's probably what will happen. Let's hope not. Would be good to see some green space kept.

Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 12:54 am 13 Mar 18

We need to revive tennis- lots of courts please!

Donna Venables Donna Venables 10:12 pm 12 Mar 18

AIE wanted to use the whole building but was knocked back. They can’t knock down the old high school, it was the best one around.

Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 9:24 pm 12 Mar 18

What happens to the current businesses located there?

Matti Poulakis Matti Poulakis 9:19 pm 12 Mar 18

Nursing home

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