25 August 2021

Morris Property Group unveils plans for office tower in city's heart

| Ian Bushnell
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MPG tower on London Circuit

An artist’s impression of the proposed office tower on London Circuit. Images: Guida Moseley Brown

A proposed 12-storey tower on a prime city site will deliver 7000 square metres of new office space to the Canberra CBD.

Morris Property Group has unveiled plans for the 833 square metre site on the corner of London Circuit and Ainslie Place, formerly a National Australia Bank branch.

The CZ1 zoned site comprises Blocks 12 and 13 Section 14, and MPG will also acquire a small parcel of land at the rear.

MPG has released the plans for public consultation ahead of lodging a development application.

“Positioned in the heart of the CBD, this development will be on the doorstep of some of Canberra’s finest shopping and dining outlets, prominent corporate business hubs, public transport networks, cycle networks and public open spaces,” the project website says.

The site is opposite Canberra Museum and Gallery and the Canberra Theatre complex, where a new cultural precinct is planned.

As well as the former bank building at 175 London Circuit, the site is currently home to Kowalski Recruitment offices at 179 London Circuit and is surrounded by commercial buildings between six and 10 storeys.

MPG says these two ageing, two-storey buildings will be demolished to make way for a state of the art commercial office tower.

The proposed building, designed by Canberra firm Guida Moseley Brown, will also include 250 square metres of ground-floor retail space and four levels of basement parking, providing 79 vehicle spaces and eight motorcycle spaces.

Building lane access

A rear view of the building showing the Riverside Lane access.

The building will also provide 78 bicycle parking spaces and end of trip facilities on the first floor, with office space on the 10 floors above.

The main entrance will be on the corner of London Circuit and Ainslie Place, while vehicle access and the loading bay will be via Riverside Lane at the rear off Ainslie Place.

New office space in Canberra has been at a premium, and MPG says this proposal will meet local demand for various tenancy sizes and offer office and retail accommodation for both public and private sector tenants.

MPG is also developing new office space at One City Hill, next to the law courts.

The proposal will need the site to adhere to the City Precinct Code and the National Capital Plan planning guidelines.

Building height can be up to RL617m or about 12 storeys, providing there are no others of the same size on the same section.

The design has been developed with feedback from the National Capital Design Review Panel and in consultation with the City Renewal Authority.

Two virtual information sessions are planned. To learn more, visit the project website.

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Oh, great! Another set of long shadows in winter., more cars, more congestion in Civic. You may talk about “vibrant revitalisation” but what it really means is less space and more traffic. And more closures of footpath and streets while construction goes on.

Whatever happened to the plan to spread new buildings and jobs across the town centres? Our city heart is turning into just another city as the open space gets nibbled away, block by block and the building heights reach ever higher.

You must be a planning expert? Canberra CBD has a “RL617” rule, which is the outright limit on all of the “tall” buildings you see. They arent getting “even higher”

A 12 story building in the city centre??! How absurd!

The plan to spread buildings and jobs was kinda abandoned when the NCDC was abolished 30+ years ago now.

That plan had its basis on this theory that you could spend your whole time living, working, shopping and playing in your own district.

Might have been reasonable as Canberra grew in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. But with Tuggeranong booming in the 80’s and 90’s and coming online in the late 90’s it didn’t work.

That aside they are replacing an existing building with a new building. Whilst the building they are not replacing there is an existing taller building on the north of this site anyway.

There’s still plenty of urban planning experts who think poly centric cities such as what the NCDC originally planned for Tuggeranong, Belconnen etc is the way to go. Even more so since Covid.

The shift to focus employment growth in Civic and a lesser extent the Airport, certainly had an impact on the original NCDC design for Canberra.

I think even the most passionate ACT Government supporters would agree that property developers have had too much say in Canberra’s design of late.

I’d like the ACT Government to increase population density using good design led by empowered and effective urban planners.

Anyone thinking Canberra can freeze it’s growth is not living in the real world. But I reckon we can do our population and urban growth better than we do currently.

Think you will find the NCDC gave up on poly centric towns before/during the construction of Tuggeranong, and Gungahlin started in their final days and was not designed to work in the same way.

And you are right the shift to growth in the city and the loophole the airport used to distort the market has had an impact too. The airport Was a shocker that the ACT government had no say over, but growth in the city is not bad. And thinking about it in some ways the growth in appartments in the city and the town centres in sone ways in a return to poly centric thinking but using density over urban sprawl.

Spot on about the airport. But Not true about the NCDC shift away Tuggeranong. NCDC had a population of 200k planned for Tuggeranong and a lot of extra infrastructure and jobs as well as Greenway as the central hub of a southern focused city centre.

Short and squat. Why can’t Canberra have really tall and thin buildings like other cities?

thatsnotmyname8:35 am 26 Aug 21

Agreed! Would be nice to see at least a few ‘skyscrapers’ in the CBD. I think the height restrictions are dated and should be increased for sure!

ChrisinTurner2:17 pm 26 Aug 21

Because once you go above 6 storeys the cost per square metre goes up.

Joselopezperez9:55 pm 25 Aug 21

Great idea! This area is in need of revitalisation and renewal.

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