EPIC, or Exhibition Park, holds a special place in the cultural heart of our city. Home to great events like the Lifeline Bookfair, Royal Canberra Show, Capital Region Farmers Market and National Folk Festival, EPIC is a fantastic venue that hosts hundreds of events and draws thousands of Canberrans in every year.
Despite that, EPIC’s future is under a cloud.
Redevelopment of EPIC?
The ACT’s Planning Directorate is currently conducting investigations into the future development of EPIC, Kenny and surrounding land. One option is for EPIC’s major events to be relocated so that part or all of the site can be redeveloped, potentially for housing.
The ACT Greens don’t support the redevelopment of EPIC for housing.
EPIC is too important a community asset to lose. The advantages of having EPIC within 7km of the city, and on the light rail route, make it a very attractive spot that’s easily accessible to residents and tourists.
Yes, facilities will need to be upgraded, and that could include tourist accommodation like better camping facilities or a hotel. However, EPIC must first and foremost be for events – not for housing.
Time to secure EPIC’s future
Instead, urgent action is required to safeguard EPIC’s future.
With Canberra’s population growing, more homes than ever before are going up along the Northbourne corridor and surrounding areas.
As the city becomes more compact, unless something is done, we will likely see an increase in conflict between residents and the noise from entertainment venues like EPIC. Some of the events held there can be quite noisy.
If we act now—before more homes are built, and before the area becomes denser—we can make sure that EPIC is kept as an important cultural and music venue by making EPIC one of Canberra’s ‘entertainment precincts’.
Entertainment precincts: What are they?
Entertainment precincts help to protect the long-term future of the music and entertainment industry without exposing residents or businesses to unreasonable or unexpected levels of noise.
Precinct laws mean that the onus is on new developments to incorporate extensive noise insulation—not on music venues to turn down their volumes when residential development is built nearby.
In areas like Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, entertainment precinct laws have helped ensure that these vibrant mixed-use areas work for residents, nightclubs, live music venues, cafes, restaurants, hotels and retail businesses.
It is not just EPIC that needs protection as an entertainment precinct. Canberra’s music and events culture has evolved organically, with entertainment venues popping up in the city, in town centres and at local shops.
As our city becomes more compact, now is the time to act.
The Government needs to make real headway on the growing need for entertainment precincts and environmental noise dampening. Given the rate of new apartment blocks going up in the Northbourne corridor and in our Town Centres, this should be a priority.
We are still awaiting the Government’s response to MusicACT’s 2015 Cool Little Capital Action Plan and outcomes from the Urban Sounds discussion paper from 2016, which were both expected by the end of 2017.
The Greens believe we should get started on the community consultation to roll out across the city in places like EPIC, Woden and Belconnen Town Centres, to ensure that we’re supporting our live arts and music scene, and our local residents.
Now is the time to secure the future of our cultural venues.
Shane Rattenbury MLA is the leader of the ACT Greens and Member for Kurrajong.