21 April 2022

Review panel had fears for Woden public space in CIT plans

| Ian Bushnell
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Woden CIT pedestrian boulevarde

How the Woden CIT pedestrian boulevarde may look. Image: ACT Government

Fears about the impact of the Woden CIT proposal on public space have been revealed in the development application for the campus’s Estate Development Plan.

The National Capital Design Review Panel said the original proposal would have meant unacceptable outcomes for the public domain and broader urban fabric of the Woden Town Centre.

Its concerns centred on the building massing and its impacts on the quality, amenity and safety of the public domain and the effective functioning of the Town Centre.

The Panel urged the government to review its plans, particularly in relation to the east-west pedestrian link, which is “of fundamental importance to the functioning of the campus and the broader town centre”.

The government says in the DA that it has responded to these criticisms, along with other responses from agencies.

This DA relates to the creation of serviced blocks to enable the construction of the CIT Campus and new traffic arrangements for Bradley and Bowes streets.

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The EDP shows the CIT site, between the Grand Central Towers and Bradley Street, divided into two blocks covered by one lease, with the smaller western piece of land dedicated to public space.

The plan shows a pedestrian boulevarde from the Transport Interchange under the CIT building to the Town Square, across Bradley Street, with active frontages along the edge of the proposed CIT building.

Bradley Street will connect to Bowes Street, and a 10 km/h shared zone will be created from the multi-storey car park to Grand Central Towers.

The main access to the CIT will be from Bradley Street, and traffic will be able to flow around the site from Callam Street to Bowes and Matilda Streets.

Off-site works include a new shared path along Bowes Street on the northern side of the CIT building and Grand Central Towers and then towards the Hellenic Club.

READ MORE Active frontages on menu for Westfield Woden masterplan

Landscaping plans show shade tree plantings along the east-west link and in the public spaces, with up to 38.5 per cent canopy. One response called for more permeable surfaces.

The DA says any landscaping issues will be resolved in the next development application for the CIT construction itself.

The DA’s Traffic report concludes that the road network will operate satisfactorily, but further investigation and investment will be required to address developing issues over the next decade.

The Woden CIT Estate Development Plan

The Woden CIT Estate Development Plan. The buildings are marked orange and the public space purple. Offsite works are in blue. Image: ARUP

Traffic volumes along Easty Street and Wilbow Street will increase significantly as a result of the road closure along Callam Street, as will those along Bowes Street, with increased traffic to/from the CIT building and surrounding Woden Town Centre developments.

While the new bus interchange and layover areas will allow for increased services, the overall traffic growth may mean more bus delays.

The Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick said the key concern was the CIT-Interchange project’s impact on the road network.

“The WVCC supports the CIT; however, we would appreciate the opportunity to talk to Major Projects Canberra and the Suburban Land Agency about access to the CIT, including parking, traffic flow past the steps to the town square and traffic congestion around the Town Centre,” she said.

It would like a better understanding of how the Reid CIT will fit into the site and what opportunities are being considered for future growth of the educational facilities for University of Canberra and Academy of Interactive Entertainment courses.

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Ms Carrick said the Council would like the government to take a precinct approach to the Woden Town Centre and include CIT connections to cultural and recreational facilities, and investigate opportunities for social and economic activity.

“The benefits of agglomeration in the Town Centre can be eroded without understanding the planning required to ensure the intersection between the built environment and the public interest is balanced,” she said.

“The City Renewal Authority was established because the ACT Government recognised that a precinct-based approach to facilitating urban renewal has proven successful in areas like Southbank in Brisbane and Elizabeth Quay in Perth.”

The Council continues to have concerns about overshadowing and would like to see shadow diagrams included with the DA.

“We would also like an assessment of the impact of wind on the area from the prevailing westerly winds squeezing through Lovett Tower and W2 creating a wind tunnel,” Ms Carrick said.

The government says construction of the public transport interchange will commence in 2021 and be completed in 2022.

Construction of the multi-storey CIT facility will begin in 2022. New students will be welcomed onto the campus at the beginning of 2025.

The DA is open to comments until 12 May.

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Well and truly overdue! The original masterplan for woden was a masterplan – where is the new masterplan for renewal and looking into the future for the community and it’s residents??? Where is the the long lost soul of the place? Anyone interested other than developers who want fast cash and no community value-add. Canberra planning, disappointment after disappointment…going nowhere fast!! Sad, really, for the people of Canberra!

sisterratched11:06 am 22 Apr 22

It’s time the ACT government had a big vision for the Woden Town Centre. Where is the overall urban plan for Woden’s beating heart? If this is it (as suggested by Labor MLA Marisa Patterson at the last WVCC public meeting), then we have a problem. The main pedestrian boulevarde will be almost constantly in full shade due to Grand Central on its northern side, and it will be bisected by Bradley St (ie shared with traffic) at the base of the steps to the Town Square… these 2 problems alone will be the death knell of any plan to create a social hub for Woden, let alone any sort of destination. Once again, we have a DA that sits in isolation from is surroundings; it may well serve the students well (for now), but is it a good fit for the overall life of the Woden Town Centre into the future? The rapidly growing population (towers zoned everywhere) will need a much bigger long term vision than this if we are to avoid a situation where Woden simply becomes a soulless transit hub: cold, windy, congested, and thoroughly uninviting. We need to put people first, not simply revenue; Woden needs urban renewal, sunny open spaces, busy streetlife, and room to grow. A CIT for Woden could be a great opportunity to bring Woden back to life, but this DA will not deliver the resuscitation we need!

HiddenDragon6:57 pm 21 Apr 22

In short, the dowdy but functional Woden town centre is being turned into a congested, dysfunctional mess – driven by a toxic cocktail of greed and planning fads and fantasies.

The worst of the latter is the obvious assumption that the thousands of extra people who will be spending at least part of their day in that area will rely heavily on public and “active” transport – in a city where the typical adolescent gets L-plates within nanoseconds of reaching the relevant age, that is pure fantasy.

Canberra is so car dependent *because* past urban planners designed everything around cars.

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