9 November 2023

New Belconnen precinct to rise 19 storeys on Lathlain Street

| Ian Bushnell
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concept design for the Lathlain Street development

A concept design for JWLand’s proposed Lathlain Street development. Images: Cox Architecture.

Plans for a new $400 million mixed-use precinct in the Belconnen Town Centre include buildings up to 19 storeys, more than 400 residential units, a hotel and serviced apartments.

Canberra developer JWLand has unveiled its plans for its Belconnen Lathlain Street precinct after buying the 5677 square metre site (Block 6 Section 23) from the ACT Government for $18.25 million in August.

The CZ2 zoned block sits on the corner of Lathlain and Cohen Streets opposite Westfield Belconnen Shopping Centre and the Belconnen transit hub.

The site’s allowable building heights range from 42 to 60 metres, equating to 12 to 19 storeys.

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JWLand plans five buildings set on a ground floor podium, with four basement levels providing 675 parking spaces and a mix of retail outlets and cafes/restaurants set among parkland and laneways.

At the development’s centre will be an “active and vibrant” central courtyard for residents and the community.

The precinct will also connect with a large urban park that the ACT Government has planned adjacent to the site.

“Close to jobs, shops, experiences, recreation and transit hubs, this will be a walkable neighbourhood offering excellent amenity to both residents and visitors,” the project webpage says.

aerial view of Belconnen

An overhead view showing where the site is and how it fits into the Belconnen Town Centre environs. Image: JWLand.

The site will be guided by a Place Design Brief developed after a government public consultation process in which people called for an intimate urban experience, better and walkable connections between precincts, open and green spaces, shared spaces and facilities, and activated street fronts, including cafes, restaurants and bars.

JWLand intends to deliver a mix of 436 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, the maximum allowed on the site.

Fifty-five of these must be affordable apartments and seven community housing.

A large variety of residential amenities are envisaged and may include end-of-trip facilities, a gym, a library, rooftop gardens, children’s play equipment, outdoor gym equipment, parcel lockers, a barbecue and outdoor dining space.

While the use mix still needs to be finalised, a combination of cafes, restaurants, retail shops and office suites is expected to activate parts of the ground and first level, operated by private tenants and/or community organisations.

The Place Design Brief says a main street character could be created on Lathlain Street to complement the hospitality offering on the east side as part of the shopping mall.

It says this would mean upgrading Lathlain Street into an attractive shared street with low-speed limits.

plan of green areas in ne development

The precinct will have a series of green laneways and a landscaped courtyard at its heart. Image: Cox Architecture.

The site could also include community use areas on the ground floor, such as a library or indoor sports facility.

“Lathlain Street will require a significant amount of design consideration and intervention to create and activate an attractive 250-metre stretch of street frontage,” it says.

As part of the sale conditions, JWLand must prioritise sustainability, including a 5 Green Star rating with EV charging infrastructure and encouraging active travel.

JWLand says its plans will be reviewed by the Suburban Land Agency and the National Capital Design Review Panel (NCDRP).

It expects the precinct to be completed by 2028.

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JWLand is also developing its massive Belconnen Central proposal, but the planning authority rejected that development application for being too big for the site and failing a host of planning rules.

The proposal for Block 17 Section 152 Belconnen – bound by Swanson Court, Chandler Street, the Cohen Street bus station, and a public walkway – included 20 and 24-storey towers comprising 550 residential units, 325 build-to-rent units, three levels of basement car parking, and ground floor commercial tenancies.

Consultation on the Lathlain Street project is open until 30 November.

A face-to-face session is planned for 16 November. Feedback can also be provided online.

To learn more, visit the JWLand website.

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Nick Stevens1:38 pm 11 Nov 23

Looks great.

This development looks very promising. I wish there were heaps more. It’s high time Canberra got dragged out of the stone age. Those luddites who want to snap freeze Canberra to whatever it was when they arrived should spend more time in Cockington Green. The rest of us want to modernise and see the city grow to its full potential.

Long overdue that the west side of Belconnen town centre saw reasonable residential/mixed-use development. This development looks very promising.

I seem to remember that back in the 1980s we were promised that we would not have any buildings higher than 8 stories. Once again the Barr government has shafted Canberra to cover their failures in keeping the budget in the black…

You mean that in the last 40 years things have changed? Ohh my…

Roslyn Marlton6:58 pm 09 Nov 23

I can’t see those laneways and the courtyard receiving much sunlight when they will be surrounded by such high buildings. I fail to understand why Belconnen town needs to be a concrete jungle. Certainly not my idea of a pleasant environment to live in.

While 19 storeys seems slightly better than the towers of Mordor of the Geocon “High Society”, as this site is on a higher piece of land, It will actually be equivalent. I still am lost as to why/how Belconnen drew the short straw to end up with the least pleasant town centre of Canberra. The ground floor commercial tenancies in other new buildings in Belco don’t seem to be a brilliant success so far, but maybe in this spot they might work somehow.

liveandletlive7:34 am 10 Nov 23

Kiriel – I disagree that Belconnen drew the short straw. Have you been to Woden recently?? I for one welcome taller buildings in the vicinity of town centres. Helps with housing and, to me, makes it feel more like a city, rather than a spread out country town. Some want to hang onto the notion that Canberra should remain the bush capital with smaller buildings etc, but we are growing in population and the infrastructure needs to grow with it. I’m only 3 suburbs away in Scullin and this doesn’t affect me in the slightest. Happy to see more of it, but each to their own. Have a good day…

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