Plan to raise London Circuit to Commonwealth Avenue in City Hill makeover

Ian Bushnell 4 March 2019 94

The City Hill Precinct – the heart of the city. Photos from the tender documents.

The ACT Government is looking at raising London Circuit to meet Commonwealth Avenue in the City Hill Precinct to create even street frontages, a more pedestrian and cycle-friendly area, greater connections to West Basin and Civic West, and easier access to future light rail stops.

The plans are part of a City Renewal Authority business case referred to in CRA tender documents for a consultancy team to develop an Estate Development Plan for the Section 63 City land release, as part of the City Hill Precinct. Morris Property Group is developing the other part of Section 63 into the Barracks residential precinct.

The tender documents say the CRA proposal will increase the amount of land that could be developed in the City Hill Precinct, in addition to providing a possible alternative design option for Stage 2 of light rail to Woden. But the CRA says only a small amount of extra land would be realised and the main purpose is to achieve a better urban design outcome. The plan would only affect one corner of the light rail route but it would make it easier for commuters to get to light rail stops from nearby blocks.

The 22,000 square metre site is at the centre of the City Hill precinct, fronting City Hill Park, and is a key connection to Lake Burley Griffin and the West Basin area. It is bounded by Vernon Circle to the north, London Circuit to the south, Commonwealth Avenue to the east, and Edinburgh Avenue, once complete in 2020, to the west.

At present, it is a sealed car park, with a ‘clover-leaf’ off-ramp connection from Commonwealth Avenue to London Circuit.

CRA CEO Malcolm Snow says the Authority was investigating the possibility of raising the road level of a short section of London Circuit so that it created a new at-grade intersection with Commonwealth Avenue.

He said this would be achieved by reconstructing about 100 metres of London Circuit and removing the existing bridge-underpass on Commonwealth Avenue.

“The authority is investigating this proposal because it believes there are a number of significant urban design benefits to having an at-grade intersection, including the ability to create active street frontages on both London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue, with improved connectivity between the adjacent future development sites. It would also improve access for pedestrians and cyclists between the city centre and Lake Burley Griffin,” he said.

Mr Snow said the proposal was not about providing more land but creating a more accessible and efficient road configuration that supported good development with active street frontages.

“It also allows for light rail to be accommodated in the median, rather than needing a separate on-off ramp, which results in a slight increase to the amount of developable land on the southern side of London Circuit,” he said.

He said an at-grade intersection supported active street frontages on all sides and would improve safety, accessibility and connectivity for pedestrians, cyclists and cars, allowing people to move easily in different directions without having to change from one street level to another.

“The current grade-separated configuration was created at a time when traffic engineers prioritised cars above people. At-grade intersections are now widely-considered to provide a superior urban design outcome that creates a better place for people, particularly pedestrians,” Mr Snow said

Apart from allowing a possible light rail route to remain within the London Circuit median until it turns on to Commonwealth Avenue, an at-grade intersection would have little to no impact on the operation of light rail, but it would improve connectivity between the surrounding blocks, making it easier for people to access potential light rail stops.

The cost of the proposal would be $20-30 million.

The CRA business case is listed among concurrent infrastructure-related planning activities that may impact the Section 63 Development Strategy, which envisages up to 1000 dwellings on the site.

Section 63 City site is marked in yellow.

The Indicative Land Release Program lists a Section 63 City land release of 350 dwellings in 2019-20 financial year, followed by another 350 the next year and another 350 the year after that.

Approvals will be required from the National Capital Authority and Transport Canberra and City Services to enable the land releases.

The documents say City Hill is considered the ‘pre-eminent heart’ of the Canberra CBD and planning for Section 63 City should promote the value of place making and the role it plays in stimulating the public realm including traffic management, high-quality spaces and economically sustainable active street frontages.

The site should be considered in the context of it being an entry-point to the parliamentary zone and its relationship with West Basin, where up to 2000 apartments may be built, with any development meeting community expectations.

It should also be integrated with surrounding planned and existing developments, particularly the neighbouring Section 100 which is currently under way, and include art and local cultural influences to create a uniquely Canberra look and feel.

Other infrastructure planning referred to includes Edinburgh Avenue, the Woden light rail route and London Circuit.

The tender documents say the CRA business case for the raising of London Circuit and associated intersection works will “provide an alternative design option for the Canberra City to Woden Light Rail pathway, plus form up the boundary of Section 63 and surrounding lots, increasing the developable land area and providing an improved shape and street frontage”.


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94 Responses to Plan to raise London Circuit to Commonwealth Avenue in City Hill makeover
wottaway wottaway 10:46 pm 07 Mar 19

Someone tell me this is April 1 come early!….for heaven’s sake leave what still works down there alone.

    JC JC 6:58 am 08 Mar 19

    You ever walk under the bridge down there, it is a barren wasteland with the occasional car wooshing past!

Queanbeyanite Queanbeyanite 7:25 pm 07 Mar 19

I don’t want to work in Civic! I want to walk to work at a shared space at my local town centre. 4/5ths of Canberrans can’t afford to live anywhere near Civic. Why can’t the SES battle the traffic to meet us, at our nice local leafy park.

Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 4:45 am 06 Mar 19

Yeah. Fill in more green space so they can take more bucks from more developers and turn Canberra into just another city full of bloody concrete boxes.

Aco Kovaceski Aco Kovaceski 11:08 pm 05 Mar 19

How about they open up Petrie Plaza to cars, and have people be able to be dropped off in the heart of what used to be the city?

    Simone Merrick Simone Merrick 12:32 am 06 Mar 19

    Aco Kovaceski Alex I actually remember civic before it was closed off to cars in the 60’s. I remember the cars all parked along what is now city walk.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:54 am 06 Mar 19

    They can be dropped off in Bunda Street now. Personally I find catching a bus more convenient than a car. No parking involved.

    Aco Kovaceski Aco Kovaceski 7:42 am 06 Mar 19

    Simone Merrick at the moment the cutie is impossible to get around and is still full of empty shops. Cutting the streets off worked 50 years ago, but maybe it is time to change

    Simone Merrick Simone Merrick 7:46 am 06 Mar 19

    Aco Kovaceski I don’t ever go into the city, I avoid it as much as I can..between constant road works, tram and lack of parking...just not worth it...

    Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 2:35 pm 10 Sep 19

    In some ways, I think Canberra has gone backwards rathe than become more progressive. that was what Canberra was prior to all the changes which have simply excluded many members of the community in favor of others. There are many commentating here who don't seem to fully appreciate the impact of pedestrian plazas on the young, especially women, the old and the commercial businesses which rely on active street frontages. When Petrie Plaza and City walk were streets, the city was full of life. People could be dropped off and picked up easily, cars moved slowly and businesses thrived. Teenagers could be dropped off safely and did not need to run the gauntlet of dangerous empty spaces especially late at night. What we have now is a misunderstanding of our city's form. Civic east is not very big, with a depth of only three blocks / streets one way, and tfour streets and blocks the other way. and weve closed off one third or more of them. No wonde businesses are going broke and the place looks derelict.

Susan Bell Susan Bell 10:47 pm 03 Mar 19

Canberra’s modern suburbs are famous for working with the landforms. Not remodelling them to fit a diagram or model.

    Patrick Keogh Patrick Keogh 4:44 pm 07 Mar 19

    Yes except the grades that are there today are not natural, they were created with a bulldozer.

Anka Savasci Anka Savasci 10:41 pm 03 Mar 19

Can we have some free, dedicated park-and-ride facilities at light rail stops first please? Phillip Ave would be a good place to start.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 5:46 pm 03 Mar 19

This brainwave has echoes of an earlier, and somewhat grander brainwave up highway –

At the time, former NSW Premier Wran laconically observed (as Australia slowly lifted out of the recession “we had to have”) that compared to spending hundreds of millions on a city beautification project, most Sydney-siders would be happy with a good feed of steak and chips.

Roger Mungummary Roger Mungummary 2:31 pm 03 Mar 19

Ridiculous extravagance. How about taking that money and actually doing something about the years long waiting list for public housing! Some pathetic excuse for a Labor party

Emi Sheridan Emi Sheridan 10:18 am 03 Mar 19

That cost to benefit ratio does not add up!

Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 9:45 pm 02 Mar 19

Stop these people! Leave Canberra alone we love our bush capital!!!

    Αλεξανδρος Τρικολας Αλεξανδρος Τρικολας 7:37 pm 05 Mar 19

    Bush Capital? I don't get what this change to London Cct has to do with the term... And I really cringe at its use. I suspect most people are unaware, or have appropriated it to mean something completely different to its original meaning.

Bolbi Bolbi 6:49 pm 02 Mar 19

Amazing that the government thinks it is ok to steal our lake so they can fill the existing foreshore with privately owned apartments. They seem to put no value on the lake and just think it is land waiting to be reclaimed for development.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:51 am 03 Mar 19

    You do realise that the lake itself is only there because of development right?

    I want the river returned to it’s natural state!!!

Heather Gordon Heather Gordon 5:42 pm 02 Mar 19

More money wasted on non essential items. This government seems to think we have really deep pockets - NO

Margarita Bianchi Margarita Bianchi 5:26 pm 02 Mar 19

Geocon or Doma? Just toss a coin.

    Αλεξανδρος Τρικολας Αλεξανδρος Τρικολας 9:18 pm 05 Mar 19

    Maybe you can do it? Oh, you can't?

Krzysztof Jakubaszek Krzysztof Jakubaszek 4:05 pm 02 Mar 19

It won’t go ahead. Will be too many issues.

Helen Holloway Helen Holloway 3:52 pm 02 Mar 19

Instead of doing that perhaps fix the foot paths, as currently there are multiple trip hazards and the older people with mobility problems find difficult to use and access because of these issues.

Vicki Lewin Vicki Lewin 9:34 am 02 Mar 19

Please finish the numerous road works around Canberra before starting more blockages.

Dave Kennard Dave Kennard 7:47 am 02 Mar 19

Please stop wasting our money! We could use that $20-30 million on projects that actually benefit and help people.

Deb Meuronen Deb Meuronen 12:14 am 02 Mar 19

This is a tram thing right??? No need to cover with a smoke screen....

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 11:48 pm 01 Mar 19

why, this is a wast of $ and you will put up our rates to pay for it.

    Αλεξανδρος Τρικολας Αλεξανδρος Τρικολας 9:17 pm 05 Mar 19

    Nope. It will be more than reimbursed by the sale of land adjacent.

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 11:08 pm 01 Mar 19

No. It’s not about the release of more land for sale. Honest!

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