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It’s time to rejuvenate the Tuggeranong town centre

By Paul Costigan - 30 September 2015 14

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Tuggeranong town centre has received some mixed commentary in recent weeks. Ever since it was reported that Tuggeranong’s population is declining, locals have mounted their soap boxes. They’ve pointed out how it is much loved, that they are proud to live there, and made the call for local action.

The Hyperdome is well maintained and offers the range of shopping experiences expected of a regional shopping mall. It was lunchtime when I last visited, and the place was reasonably busy with a cross section of people, including students from the nearby college as well as public servants wandering around with their badges on display.

While most cafes inside and out were not exactly crowded, there is no doubt where most had congregated for their feasting. The upstairs food hall was packed and noisy!

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Across the road from the Hyperdome sits the commercial block titled Homeworld. Years ago that this place was not quite the success it was supposed to be. It was then a wall of shops and commercial outlets (hardware, grog shops etc) with a large parking space in the centre.

It did not look attractive then and sadly it is not much better today.

The main café was very empty. Obviously the view of the centre car park does not attract many customers.

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There are several streets of apartments on the edges of the main centre. While this was sound planning — as people live close by and spend money locally — the quality of the build is not much to rave about. In fact I spotted several with serious cracked render — with two under major repair.

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The image most used for this town centre remains photographs of the lake and/or the public buildings on the southern side of the lake. There’s a good reason for this. They looked good several decades ago when they were first built by the government, and they still do today. In fact, they seem even more attractive now because of the comparison to the more recent boring buildings in and around the town centre.

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There is little evidence that the private sector has contributed much to the generous public amenities first established through the public purse. The whole area is on pause.

This is not to say that it does not generally work for the people who live in the area. It is functioning centre with a medium standard of commercial outlets. However it does seem to be struggling to move to the next stages of development.

This next stage will be hindered if developers continue to build boring bland boxed buildings and more is not done to make the place far more aesthetically attractive — not only for the locals but also to attract people to visit.

The commercial precinct and the parts of surrounding suburbs need an intensification of residential developments. This in turn needs to be matched with encouragements for more business opportunities in and around the centre.

However — the argument for intensification is qualified with the cautionary note that the current ACT government has a questionable record on delivering quality and aesthetically pleasing developments.

There is little evidence that this ACT Government understands the importance of and the linkages between integrated design, aesthetics, landscape, infrastructure, cities, the environment and climate change.

Something needs to change in how developments are delivered; especially  in already established areas such as those in and around this town centre.

Much of the planning undertaken in Canberra is usually fairly sound, but along the way so much gets dropped resulting in too much blandness and beige and short term decisions.

Along with positive steps to encourage more people to live closer to the town centre, there could be further improvements to the community and cultural facilities. Around the world, whenever governments increase their commitments to public amenities and the arts, magic happens and places become active and people enjoy their cities and suburbs far more.

Almost every week now we see the business sector and the government publish media releases on how someone needs to take actions to update Civic (which is overdue). However we rarely see the same energy or priority put on town centres such as Tuggeranong, where a large percentage of the population have chosen to live.

The Land Development Agency has as one of its reasons for existing: “The LDA is dedicated to achieving new standards of innovation, excellence and value in urban design and sustainable development.” Despite such promising visions, it seems that when it comes to the Tuggeranong town centre the relevant agencies have chosen to take a vacation and allow the place to sink or swim on its own.

This town centre has good basic green and grey infrastructure that was constructed by previous governments. This could have been used by more recent governments and the private sector to ensure that the town centre  had by now become more alive and successful.

The Tuggeranong spokespeople need to stay on their soap boxes, they need to encourage other locals to voice their concerns and the government and business sectors need to take the future of the Tuggeranong town centre far more seriously.

Some bright spark within government needs to take some very positive steps to get that finger off the Tuggeranong town centre’s pause button.

What’s Your opinion?


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14 Responses to
It’s time to rejuvenate the Tuggeranong town centre
miz 1:53 pm 04 Oct 15

Spot on, bj, yet the present local government is so thick as to wonder why Tuggers residents are so angry and want to vote them out.

HenryBG 12:14 am 03 Oct 15

watto23 said :

. What baffles me in Canberra planning, was why build man made lakes and then build the main shopping area a few blocks away from the lake. Why are there cafes no on the lake shore?

I love a good anachronism….

Can you imagine a time when there were literally not a single outdoor table with chairs outside any kind of cafe anywhere in Canberra?
Can you imagine a time when the ACT bureaucrats used to organise pre-dawn raids on businesses to remove any outdoor-furniture that had been provided for people to sit at to drink their coffees?

(These bureaucrats are now living in retirement villages demanding similar mindlessly antisocial action against the likes of the Narrabundah peacock colony).

Holden Caulfield 10:04 pm 02 Oct 15

My favourite part of the Tuggeranong Town Centre is putting it to the south of all the residential suburbs so that it’s actually not a centre at all.

gooterz 9:08 pm 02 Oct 15

rubaiyat said :

JC said :

rubaiyat said :

…and that shopping centres and their associated ugly car parks ignore everything that is around them. They are obsessively inward looking, as are the people design them and who shop there.

Except for Belconnen where the latest expansion was done with the intent of opening up one entrance to the road, not the main road mind you (but other thread they are talking about making it the main road) and for the most part hiding the car park.

I agree, that did improve the existing concrete mauseleum.

Belconnen still remains completely disrupted by the Mall which was sited where it was contrary to the Town Plan.

The unfortunate thing for Belconnen is that the Mall, wrapped up in ugly multi-storey concrete car parking, so dominates it. There is virtually nothing else.

Belconnen is only classified as Belconnen because of the mall. I’m not sure what you expect in the centre of town but a local bazaar to buy food. How else does one get to the mall to buy said food other than a car. A car park is needed for the car.

I’m sure we could build a park or taj mahal instead but then we’d have to build a mall else where and then the town will build up around it.

There is just no pleasing some people

rubaiyat 2:45 pm 02 Oct 15

JC said :

rubaiyat said :

…and that shopping centres and their associated ugly car parks ignore everything that is around them. They are obsessively inward looking, as are the people design them and who shop there.

Except for Belconnen where the latest expansion was done with the intent of opening up one entrance to the road, not the main road mind you (but other thread they are talking about making it the main road) and for the most part hiding the car park.

I agree, that did improve the existing concrete mauseleum.

Belconnen still remains completely disrupted by the Mall which was sited where it was contrary to the Town Plan.

The unfortunate thing for Belconnen is that the Mall, wrapped up in ugly multi-storey concrete car parking, so dominates it. There is virtually nothing else.

bj_ACT 2:29 pm 02 Oct 15

miz said :

It is so frustrating when people say ‘oh Tuggeranong got all that spending when it was new.’ Given that was 30 years ago and many things are still incomplete.
It is So Beautiful and such great value to live in the valley not to mention without the traffic hassles experienced by northsiders commuting in to Barton and Civic.
I just wish the government would spend proportionally.

This Tuggeranong got lots of spending when it was new view by many, is a furphy.

Do some comparisons. Only 1 triple lane road (Drakeford) and some small part dual lane roads (Athllon and Erindale Drives) does not meet the regions traffic requirements. Creating dual lanes for the high traffic main roads of Sulwood, Ashley, Johnson, Isabella, Tharwa and Woodcock drives never ended up happening due to costs and the introduction of Self Government. These single lane roads take big traffic numbers (and single lane roads don’t suit Bus travel for the bus or other cars in peak hour)

Compare this with Belconnen that has triple and dual lanes for all the key roads in the area. Belconnen way and Benjamin way, plus Southern Cross, Ginninderra, Bindubi, Haydon and Coulter drives. Tuggernanong was meant to get the same level of dual road infrastructure, but it never occurred.

Now also think about the cheap and stinky Lake at Tuggeranong compared to Burley Griffin or Lake Ginninderra. Think about Tuggeranong’s lack of University, CIT, Hospital and entertainment areas in comparison to Belconnen, which has the same population as Tuggers.

This is why the ‘lots of money was spent on Tuggeranong 20 years ago’ is just not correct.

JC 11:15 am 02 Oct 15

rubaiyat said :

…and that shopping centres and their associated ugly car parks ignore everything that is around them. They are obsessively inward looking, as are the people design them and who shop there.

Except for Belconnen where the latest expansion was done with the intent of opening up one entrance to the road, not the main road mind you (but other thread they are talking about making it the main road) and for the most part hiding the car park.

gooterz 8:56 pm 01 Oct 15

The ‘lake’ is more a cess pool of emotional despair.

but seriously. They should just stop building out the town centres. Find the halfway point between Woden and Tuggeranong, and Woden and Civic, build a massive high rise and connect it by fast rail.
Leave the town centres for shopping and parking. Ignore the lakes and just go with it.

PS.

What government fool let the centrelink building ditch the red roofs theme. The buildings are the most ugly standoutish things there now.

miz 7:56 pm 01 Oct 15

Thank you Paul for your sensible perspective. It is so frustrating when people say ‘oh Tuggeranong got all that spending when it was new.’ Given that was 30 years ago and many things are still incomplete.
It is So Beautiful and such great value to live in the valley not to mention without the traffic hassles experienced by northsiders commuting in to Barton and Civic.
I just wish the government would spend proportionally.

rubaiyat 6:59 pm 01 Oct 15

watto23 said :

Its not just a Tuggeranong thing to be honest. I remember when there was no Hyperdome, just the Telstra exchange on the way to Pine island. You can’t even blame this on the ACT government as it was planned well before them. What baffles me in Canberra planning, was why build man made lakes and then build the main shopping area a few blocks away from the lake. Why are there cafes no on the lake shore? The closest is Maccas and KFC at Tuggers?!?!?! Lake Burley Griffin is the same. there should be lots of pop up caravans selling food and cafes with decks overlook the lake and the interesting buildings we do have on the foreshore.

Everywhere else in the world, water means resaturants,cafes and shops.

They put all the junk food outlets along Lake Ginninderra, Belconnen as well.

Why are the shopping centres removed from the obvious attractions?

Simple. Car parking.

…and that shopping centres and their associated ugly car parks ignore everything that is around them. They are obsessively inward looking, as are the people design them and who shop there.

Paul Costigan 5:41 pm 01 Oct 15

Dear rubalyat – congrats on your former advertising successes – I remember being impressed by the original marketing for the Hyperdome; but alas was surprised when I saw that it was just another regional level mall! Nothing special.

I have been observing malls in all sorts of places for decades – and maybe some time soon I may write a piece on the current state of all our Canberra Malls.

Meanwhile this post was really about the whole town centre – and how it needs attention!

Dear watto23 – I totally agree about the lack of cafes and such facilities by the water. People love going to cafes beside water – I could name heaps of popular examples – but for some reason the ACT planners have worked against having these – I am not sure what the mindset has been. But it is time for change!

watto23 3:38 pm 01 Oct 15

Its not just a Tuggeranong thing to be honest. I remember when there was no Hyperdome, just the Telstra exchange on the way to Pine island. You can’t even blame this on the ACT government as it was planned well before them. What baffles me in Canberra planning, was why build man made lakes and then build the main shopping area a few blocks away from the lake. Why are there cafes no on the lake shore? The closest is Maccas and KFC at Tuggers?!?!?! Lake Burley Griffin is the same. there should be lots of pop up caravans selling food and cafes with decks overlook the lake and the interesting buildings we do have on the foreshore.

Everywhere else in the world, water means resaturants,cafes and shops.

rubaiyat 11:23 am 01 Oct 15

creative_canberran said :

Barely three decades mate. Not quite several.

Sigh, I thought Canberra was supposed to be better educated.

Do you understand the meaning of “several”?

P.S. It was the Hyperdome that brought me to Canberra, I worked for the Advertising Agency that did its promotion. The manager was very proud of his mall, but it was always dull, dowdy and badly laid out, now the only difference I can see is the customers are distinctly fatter.

creative_canberran 11:50 pm 30 Sep 15

“The Hyperdome is well maintained…”

No, parts of it are round down and filthy, and management have progressively ripped out details inside to make it blander and easier care. It’s been going backwards for years, and the roach and flood problems don’t help.

“the place was reasonably busy with a cross section of people, including students from the nearby college as well as public servants”

Yep, and frequently security and police have to move along students and some recent school leavers who cause trouble.

“public buildings on the southern side of the lake. There’s a good reason for this. They looked good several decades ago when they were first built by the government,”

Barely three decades mate. Not quite several.

It’s clear you don’t know much about the day to day, or the history of Tuggeranong. And debates about the town centre have been going on since it was built because of a string of planning and commercial decisions.

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