Limits set for proposed luxury hotel at National Arboretum

Ian Bushnell 6 February 2020 43
Scott Saddler

National Arboretum senior director Scott Saddler walks through the site. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The proposed luxury hotel or eco-lodge at the National Arboretum will be limited to two storeys in height and have only 40 guest rooms under conditions laid down by the National Capital Authority.

The NCA has set the design limits in the issuing for public consultation of an amendment to the National Capital Plan that would allow the development.

The ACT Government went to the market last year to gauge private sector interest in developing the hotel on Forests 69 and 76 south of Dairy Farmers Hill but an amendment is required to allow such a development in the Hills, Ridges and Buffer Spaces under the NCP.

The proposed amendment will allow commercial accommodation but excludes options including a caravan park and camping ground.

It also details conditions for the planning, design and development of the hotel, which must be low-set, with environmentally sustainable buildings that blend in with the landscape and existing Arboretum buildings.

Buildings on the eastern slope of Forest 69 must be no more than a single storey or seven metres in height and buildings on the western slope no more than two storeys while buildings on the southern slope of the site, within Forest 76, must be no more than seven metres high and two storeys.

Hotel location

Where the hotel will be developed. Image: NCA.

The hotel can only have a maximum of 40 guest rooms, which must all sit in Forest 69. Additional amenities such as a restaurant and supporting back of house facilities are permitted within the hotel where it can be demonstrated that they are necessary for its successful operation.

The NCA says the development should be energy efficient through building orientation, solar panels and shading to glazed surfaces, and water efficient through the collection and reuse of stormwater and use of greywater.

The building and landscape design should enhance the connection with nature, and contribute to the health and wellbeing of visitors. While it must consider the privacy and security of guests, fencing is not permitted and the landscape should be used to separate public and private realms.

Buildings should be sited to take advantage of views including those to the Brindabella Ranges.

Development proposals must include measures to deal with noise such as traffic from the Tuggeranong Parkway. This may include the use of building materials to reduce noise levels in building interiors, the use of landscape, and the siting and orientation of the guest rooms.

Buildings and landscape design must reflect the original design intent of the Arboretum masterplan. Within Forest 69, tree plantings must predominantly be Chinese Golden Larch, while in Forest 76 they must predominantly be Radiata Pine.

National Arboretum

Site layout and built form requirements for commercial accommodation at the National Arboretum. Image: NCA.

The main vehicle access to the site is to be from Forest Drive, and another access point, including for emergency vehicles, must be provided.

Car parking must be screened from view as much as possible from Forest Drive, Dairy Farmers Hill, and the Central National Area, and located on the western side of the ridge. There should be one space per guest room, 10 spaces per 100 square metres of bars, restaurant, function rooms and supporting back of house facilities, plus three spaces for every five employees.

All outdoor lighting must be designed and placed to minimise light pollution so as not to affect the Mount Stromlo Observatory, and views to the site from the Central National Area.

A public information session will be held on Thursday 13 February 2020, from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm at the National Capital Exhibition, Barrine Drive, Regatta Point, Commonwealth Park.

Interested parties can register their interest in attending by email:

Submissions to Draft Amendment 94 can be submitted until close of business on 16 March. See

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43 Responses to Limits set for proposed luxury hotel at National Arboretum
kaylene kaylene 11:29 pm 13 Feb 20

I think this is fantastic.. a true point of difference for Canberra!
The Arboretum is such a beautiful peaceful place, what a wonderful oppourtunity to further bring people together to learn and live in (even for a day or 2) an eco friendly lodge… another great reason for friends and family to visit..

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:25 am 14 Feb 20

    The site was even more peaceful before the place was converted into a theme park with some struggling exotic tree plantations.

    JS9 JS9 9:10 am 14 Feb 20

    You would not be happy CR unless not a single $ was spent on anything, and the whole of Canberra collapsed into a heap.

    We get you hate everything any government ever wants to do.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 3:12 pm 14 Feb 20

    The arboretum was a pet project of a past chief minister. Everything was wrong about it from the start and vast amounts of money have been poured into it since. It has become a theme park for quirky quests and showy deeds, the “arboretum” theme was left behind long ago.

    With the multi star “eco lodge” development it will become the exclusive playground for the rich and famous but we ratepayers will still underwrite it. Yep, I hate it.

Andrea Lloyd Andrea Lloyd 3:00 pm 10 Feb 20

Maybe Geocon wants it. If so it will go ahead no matter what concerns people may have! 😡

Rebecca De Vries Rebecca De Vries 10:35 pm 09 Feb 20

Why does everything have to be commercialised 💔 .... can’t we please just keep our Arboretum for the tree’s - humans have already taken up enough of the Earth 🌏😢😢😢.

National Arboretum Canberra I hope this never goes ahead ... you’ll ruin one of our treasures.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:36 pm 09 Feb 20

Will there be a Tesla Supercharger built in?

Alex Fulford Alex Fulford 7:48 pm 09 Feb 20

Ka Ching, cheap money grab 💩💩

Marietta McGregor Marietta McGregor 6:29 pm 09 Feb 20

Unfortunately, once a hotel goes in, that will alienate that part of the Arboretum. It will become a no-go area for other visitors. I can see phalanxes of tour buses winding up that hill. 😞

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 7:49 pm 09 Feb 20

    Tour buses won't be going up there for a 40 room hotel though, that is going to cost maybe $500+ a night. When the aboretum matures though.... it will be an attraction that will definately need some thought on where buses park.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:14 pm 09 Feb 20

At last, Canberra’s own dude ranch.

Liza Jensen Liza Jensen 11:58 am 09 Feb 20

Maybe try and fix up the commercial areas we already have? The centre of Canberra is like a half abandoned warehouse with random shops in old buildings? This is supposed to be the Capital of the country?

Chris Hobbs Chris Hobbs 11:06 am 09 Feb 20

Great idea, tourism and conservation awareness, #10points another amazing stay to match jamalla lodge at the zoo.

Sally Adams Sally Adams 10:14 am 09 Feb 20

Liz Grellman this must be what u mentioned

Marg Christensen Marg Christensen 10:13 am 09 Feb 20

Gabriel, an eco-lodge has always been on the plan for the Arboretum.

    Marg Christensen Marg Christensen 12:38 pm 09 Feb 20

    Ruth, ...a two storey hotel with only 40 rooms... Let’s not exaggerate

Carol Marshall Carol Marshall 9:55 am 09 Feb 20

Nice photo, Scott.

Claire Harris Claire Harris 8:00 am 09 Feb 20

This is not good news

Lisa LaMaitre Lisa LaMaitre 7:50 am 09 Feb 20

WT.. seriously.. you don’t have to have hotels, malls and shops... EVERYWHERE!!!

Gary Fynmore Gary Fynmore 11:39 pm 08 Feb 20

The NCA thought I was joking when I suggested an eco friendly casino . Damn !!!

Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 11:05 pm 08 Feb 20

Not trees!!! Won't somebody please think of the trees!!!

Claudine Norton Claudine Norton 11:05 pm 08 Feb 20

Local government chasing money once again 😔

Frederica Heacock Frederica Heacock 10:51 pm 08 Feb 20

A beautifully designed, sustainable Eco-lodge would be amazing.

    Frederica Heacock Frederica Heacock 1:03 pm 09 Feb 20

    Ruth Hodgett Palavestra “low-set, with environmentally sustainable buildings that blend in with the landscape and existing Arboretum buildings”

Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 10:45 pm 08 Feb 20

The Arboretum is certainly not the place for a hotel. For heavens sake, leave it as a beautiful place for lovers of trees.

Marietta McGregor Marietta McGregor 10:07 pm 08 Feb 20

I hope if it goes ahead the café improves to international standard. 🙂

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 11:20 pm 08 Feb 20

    Marietta McGregor just a decent standard would do me!

    Marietta McGregor Marietta McGregor 11:57 am 09 Feb 20

    Last time I went, a sad salad was served in a pop-top clear plastic container. Not a great look for a place meant to celebrate the natural world.

    Marietta McGregor Marietta McGregor 6:27 pm 09 Feb 20

    Ruth Hodgett Palavestra , you’re right! It was quite some time ago. It did rather put me off. I’m obviously overdue for a return visit.

    Kylee Taylor Kylee Taylor 6:36 pm 09 Feb 20

    Marietta McGregor I go with my daughter regularly, last week the food was Devine!

    Melanie Fawcett Melanie Fawcett 10:47 pm 09 Feb 20

    Even late last year (Nov?) the food was super expensive and pretty mediocre quality

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 11:05 pm 09 Feb 20

    Ruth Hodgett Palavestra $12 for a pie? My budget says that is expensive.

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