The eastern end of Kings Park by Lake Burley Griffin is more popular than ever, but it is looking a bit worse for wear, especially compared with its cousin across the water, the recently refreshed Bowen Place.
The National Capital Authority wants to change all that and create a place for people and sort out the safety issues flowing from the many cyclists and walkers sharing the one path.
It has opened consultation on a proposal for separate pedestrian and cycle paths, moving the car park to the park’s edge, and building new and revitalised green spaces and amenities such as toilets.
The proposal, the third stage of Kings Park upgrades, will also allow for new commercial opportunities, such as a café to enhance the experience for regular users and visitors in one of the National Triangle’s prominent public open areas.
NCA CEO Sally Barnes, long an advocate for more activity by the lake, said it was during the COVID-19 pandemic when Canberrans poured into the outdoors, including Kings Park and along the lakeside, that she realised that more work was needed to properly cater for lake users, especially with National Capital’s growing population.
“That said to us as a planning organisation … if this is what’s going to look like in the future, we better get our skates on and start planning for it,” she told Region on the site where the NCA will conduct pop-up consultation sessions.
“So this is that future-proofing for that future of more people in Canberra and hopefully more visitors and more events, and more coffee.”
A series of four new event spaces are planned, including on Queen Elizabeth Island (Aspen Island), two by the water, and a 3500 square metre centrepiece, as well as small park plazas, taking advantage of the spectacular lake foreground of the Carillon and the national institutions.
Ms Barnes said the revamped park would embrace a whole range of events, from musical performances to hospitality and beyond.
Federal Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories Minister Kristy McBain said the Commonwealth wanted the space to be well used.
“We have already seen pop-up vans and live music, and what we want to do is encourage the continued use of that,” she said.
“It could be anything, really. We just want to provide a good setting for people to activate the path more.”
The closure of Wendouree Drive to vehicles will allow it to be re-purposed as a designed cycleway and RG Menzies Walk will become a pedestrian-only pathway.
A new lookout platform over the lake is also planned as an endpoint to RG Menzies Walk where walkers can stop and appreciate the Carillon and views towards the national institutions.
A designated cycleway ramp will provide a direct accessible connection between Kings Park and Kings Avenue, combined with two pedestrian staircases.
A new, bigger car park that can also take buses is planned for a site closer to Kings Avenue.
“The idea is to pull cars out to the side,” Ms Barnes said.
Some trees will be lost, but many more will be planted to increase the canopy cover and enhance the garden setting.
The NCA is also proposing a new bus stop on Kings Avenue just after the bridge for events.
Ms McBain said the Commonwealth wanted to make the area as accessible and usable as possible.
“We want to give it some love. We want to give it a good user experience,” she said. “We know people love being in and around the lake, especially in spring and summer, and we want to give them the best options they have.”
But it could be a few years before the plans are realised.
The NCA will need to get community feedback on this concept design, then finalise the design and cost it.
“That costing will then help us plan it maybe over a few years,” Ms Barnes said.
To learn more and provide feedback, visit the NCA website.
The consultation runs until 28 November.