NCA delays decision on War Memorial redevelopment works

Ian Bushnell 6 November 2021 31
Australian War Memorial

A recent picture of early works underway at the Australian War Memorial. Photo: Honest History.

A decision on the Australian War Memorial’s Works Application for the core of its controversial $500 million redevelopment project has been delayed.

The National Capital Authority had expected to release its Consultation Report by the end of October but now says it is taking longer to complete than first anticipated.

“The NCA continues to review information and ideas contained in 587 submissions made in response to the works approval applications for the three projects in the redevelopment package for the Australian War Memorial,” it posted on its website.

Memorial Director Matt Anderson told Senate Estimates on 27 October that the AWM was hopeful of a decision “this year”.

He said that the majority of the Main Works submissions had been positive.

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But Heritage Guardians convenor David Stephens said many of these supportive submissions were one-line entries that did not address the National Capital Plan, the key document the NCA says it is referencing.

“As the planning agency, the NCA is interested in how the designs do or do not meet provisions within the National Capital Plan (NCP),” it said on its website.

Mr Stephens said of the 587 submissions, just 76 of the 413 published submissions compared the works with the Plan and 42 of these were against the works.

Anzac Hall

A view of the new Anzac Hall, glazed link and main building. Image: AWM.

He said the NCA may need more time to emphasise the proportion of submissions in favour of the Main Works when it tried to ignore the overwhelming number (99 per cent) of submissions to the Early Works consultation against the project.

It may also be that it has asked the Memorial to make some changes to the plans regarding the finish or the potential of the Glazed Link to be a fire hazard, based on a submission from UNSW’s Professor James Weirick.

But the Memorial said the NCA had not raised any issues with the Memorial to date or requested any changes to the current proposal.

Mr Stephens speculated the NCA could also be making a stand on something bigger, such as heritage issues.

The three components of the Main Works are the new Southern Entrance, Bean Building Extension, and the new Anzac Hall and Glazed Link.

The Early Works approved in June have been underway for some months.

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The Memorial’s Executive Project Director Wayne Hitches told Estimates that the next phase of consultation would involve the public realm submission to do with the landscaping, and the Memorial was hoping to get that through the EPBC process and then to the NCA next year, with those realm works not starting until 2023-24.

The Auditor-General has been expected to review the redevelopment project, but the Memorial has not heard whether it will proceed.

The Memorial says the 10-year redevelopment will allow it greater room to tell the stories of more contemporary conflicts and missions, but the project has been attacked as extravagant, unnecessary and a trashing of the institution’s heritage values.

A Memorial spokesperson said the demolition of Anzac Hall was completed in October 2021, and the remaining civil, services and excavation early works will be mostly complete by the end of the second quarter of 2022.

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31 Responses to NCA delays decision on War Memorial redevelopment works
Jak Kanard Jak Kanard 3:45 pm 10 Nov 21

...bit late ! The digging and destruction has already begun. Don’t the twats running Canberra know what’s going on...!?

shannos shannos 5:18 am 08 Nov 21

A Greek tragedy played out before our own eyes. Production cost $500,000,000-Thank you NCA – FARCE!

Liz Lyell Liz Lyell 4:34 am 08 Nov 21

I guess they had to stop work, cause of Covid.

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 9:29 pm 07 Nov 21

Well put, Peter Stanley. NCA can always find some impressive technicality in the legislation and National Capital Plan to ensure that the rubber stamp ignores what ordinary voters want.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:10 am 08 Nov 21

    What on earth are you on about?

    The proposal is clearly in line with the NCP which it has consistently been assessed against through the process. Most of the opposition to this haven’t even attempted to relate this back to consistency with the NCP, rather focusing on meaningless aesthetic or political arguments.

    And as for what “ordinary voters” want, the government went to the last election with this as part of their platform. They won.

    It’s pretty funny seeing people attempt to twist this issue simply because they personally don’t like what’s being proposed.

The Martini Whisperer The Martini Whisperer 8:40 pm 07 Nov 21

Mmm, sorry to say, an exercise in futility.

Teresa Layton Teresa Layton 7:24 pm 07 Nov 21

What a joke. A bit late 😡

Chris Tony Chris Tony 6:38 pm 07 Nov 21

Canberra is a great city but it still needs to grow and develop to fully realise it's position as the capital. In particular this development is for the benefit of all Australians. I'm so sick of the small group of Canberrans that attack every single proposed development. I really hope this development goes forward, AWM is an important place for all Australians I look forward to it's expansion so it can provide further service and amenities to Australia.

    Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 7:02 pm 07 Nov 21

    Chris Tony

    You’re obviously not an ex servicemen. Try pushing your comment on any military forum and see how you go…

    Chris Tony Chris Tony 7:14 pm 07 Nov 21

    Stephen Page-Murray look everyone can have their opinion. But maybe don't make assumptions about people. Currently there is no more room to properly tell the stories of younger veterans and there are warehouses of equipment and stories locked away that no one gets to see. The AWM needs more space if it's going to tell those stories. Yes the AWM is a special place for veterans, but it also has to be for all veterans and Australians

    Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 7:15 pm 07 Nov 21

    Chris Tony

    It doesn’t require half a billion dollars. Nice try though…

    Chris Tony Chris Tony 7:20 pm 07 Nov 21

    Stephen Page-Murray that's a valid opinion. But aren't we just a fortunate country that can budget that amount of money in order to honour and remember Australians

    Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 7:29 pm 07 Nov 21

    Chris Tony

    It isn’t about honouring Australians. It’s a sop to Brendan and his ‘mates’. The money would be better off going to veterans

    Chris Tony Chris Tony 7:35 pm 07 Nov 21

    Stephen Page-Murray I agree there should be scrutiny on every cent and contract to make sure it's above board (which won't happen). But this from a different part of the budget in my understanding. The government should be expected to do both, take care of the veteran community and invest in infrastructure/cultural institutions. I just don't think it's a one or the other situation.

    But I see how people can draw that conclusion when they see veterans struggling to get the help they need. But again the Gov should be able to do both

    Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 7:37 pm 07 Nov 21

    Chris Tony

    Not for $500 million. It simply isn’t required.

    Giles Tranter Giles Tranter 8:18 pm 07 Nov 21

    Chris Tony it may not be an either or situation, but surely the actual welfare of veterans comes first?

    Chris Tony Chris Tony 8:37 pm 07 Nov 21

    Giles Tranter of course. But I don't believe that if this project was downscaled any of that money would go to veteran support. They've already budgeted what they want to spend on that. Yes it's an insane amount of money but its budgeted and the AWM has a big job to do and an important legacy. So do both government, take care of your people and invest in its institutions. I just don't think downscaling projects ends in the way people want it to and then everyone misses out.

    Giles Tranter Giles Tranter 8:41 pm 07 Nov 21

    Chris Tony each to their own I guess, but if those in government who lobbied so hard for this had instead lobbied hard for veteran support, perhaps the budget for that might actually have been bigger and the $500M put to better use.

    But there aren't as many photo ops and chances to big note yourself in distributed health care and support.

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 8:46 pm 07 Nov 21

    Chris Tony what? It’s a war memorial. It doesn’t need to expand. This is just vanity and wanton destruction of the original vision

    Chris Tony Chris Tony 8:55 pm 07 Nov 21

    Chris Ellis it's a memorial on top of a museum. From what I've seen they are expanding the museum below and around. Whilst keeping the memorial as is on top. It'll largely look the same from Anzac PDE. But I understand the emotion behind certain arguments the place means different things to different people. A project like this is hard to do whilst respecting a place honours those past.

    But again just wanted to put out there are alot of people that support this development

    Kerry Apted Kerry Apted 8:57 pm 07 Nov 21

    Chris Ellis AND a museum. It's the museum that's being redeveloped.

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 8:59 pm 07 Nov 21

    Kerry Apted we already have a museum

    Kerry Apted Kerry Apted 10:26 pm 07 Nov 21

    Chris Ellis I know that. You said it was a war memorial.

    Nick Henderson Nick Henderson 11:28 pm 07 Nov 21

    Or a fraction of this could have preserved and digitised all of Australia’s film, TV, music, sound, and radio archives, but go war history. Ah well, we’ll just let a good chunk of it degrade and be lost. War history and the existing substantial museum is clearly more important.

Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 6:11 pm 07 Nov 21

Haven’t works started already?

    Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 7:31 pm 07 Nov 21

    Shane Jasprizza yes that’s called action before consultation

    Kerry Apted Kerry Apted 8:33 pm 07 Nov 21

    Janet Ilchef There was public consultation a while ago.

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 8:44 pm 07 Nov 21

    Kerry Apted lol

    Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 8:48 pm 07 Nov 21

    Kerry Apted but they started before consulting

Peter Stanley Peter Stanley 3:35 pm 07 Nov 21

A delay in the NCA’s process? That’s odd. Don’t they know that you can get rubber stamps from Officeworks while-you-wait?

Stewart Stewart 1:56 pm 07 Nov 21

“I’ve got a good idea. We need something bigger in the name of a good cause – let’s knock down an award winning relatively new building/cut down all the trees in the way/build out to the boundary.” We can see examples of this sort of insensitivity everywhere nowadays but who would have expected this level of it, such poor design, and disrespect for national heritage at the Australian War Memorial. Goodbye to a once beautiful and well designed site.

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