20 March 2020

Planned Braddon complex to house international students

| Ian Bushnell
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Living Hub in Braddon

An artists impression of the Living Hub project slated for Braddon. Image: Canberra Town Planning.

Plans have been unveiled for a six-storey apartment complex in Braddon to tap into the international student market in Canberra and further cement the ACT as Australia’s international education leader.

Canberra Town Planning, on behalf of Fyshwick-based Mesja Pty Ltd, has opened consultation on the project at 44-46 Mort Street ahead of lodging a development application.

It has set up a website for the project, dubbed The Living Hub, which says there is a high and rising demand for student accommodation in Canberra, noting that international education is Australia’s largest service export and the nation’s fourth-largest export overall.

The Australian National University, which is only 1.5 kilometres away from the Braddon site, has about 7,000 overseas students including about 5,000 from China.

Mesja is proposing a mixed-use development with ground-level shops and five levels of rooms above catering for 194 residents, including six accessible rooms.

The website says there will be study spaces on floors one, two and four, plus other amenities including a gymnasium, common spaces, a music room and laundry.

Site map

A site map for the project. Image: Canberra Town Planning.

The project will be built around two central courtyards, with communal open spaces and site landscaping.

A basement will provide car parking and bicycle spaces.

44 Mort Street (Block 6 Section 20) is currently a car park while a low-rise building occupies number 46 next door (Block 5 Section 20), which sold in 2005 for $8.25 million.

The student complex would contribute to the ongoing transformation of the trendy inner-city suburb, noted for its restaurants, cafes and bars.

The ACT has more than doubled the export value of international education services in Canberra since 2013. Australian Bureau of Statistics data released in June shows that the ACT’s international education exports skyrocketed in 2018, up 15 per cent on 2017 figures to be valued at just over $1.0 billion.

The move to establish a new University of NSW campus at Reid will also drive demand for student accommodation in the city.

The new campus is set to attract 6,000 students, create 2,000 jobs and add up to $3 billion to the local economy, according to UNSW and Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

The government will provide eight hectares of land in Reid under a peppercorn lease agreement, and the current CIT will move over time to a new facility in Woden.

The new campus on Constitution Avenue on the city’s east side will also house a new Defence and Security Innovation Precinct.

Consultation on the Living Hub project is open until the end of the month.

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No, what an awful idea. Braddon has enough ugliness as it is. Just no.

Given how international students were treated during the early days of Covid-19, and that many more courses will now be offered on-line (NBN-willing), I don’t see how this will stack up financially.

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