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Plaza would revitalise Civic’s iconic Sydney and Melbourne Buildings: Barr

Charlotte Harper 18 January 2016 66

An artist's impression of the revitalised Sydney and Melbourne buildings precinct.

A proposed plaza between the Sydney and Melbourne Buildings in Civic would help Canberrans reclaim the iconic art deco landmarks and revitalise the precinct, according to ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

Mr Barr has today invited Canberrans to have a say on a Government strategy to create a series of “urban villages” at key points on the planned light rail network along Northbourne Avenue, including the new plaza at the intersection with London Circuit.

The Chief Minister said such a plaza would join up the east and west of the city.

“The road will be easier to cross. Wider pavements will allow for outdoor dining and socialising. New trees and landscaping will create a more pleasant environment with good shade,” he said.

The Government’s City and Gateway Urban Renewal Strategy was designed to turn Northbourne Avenue into a tree-lined boulevard that would form a fitting entrance for a national capital as well as incorporating developments to meet community needs. The plan proposes the development of urban villages at Dickson and the Macarthur Avenue intersection initially, with Haig Park/Braddon and EPIC/Mitchell the sites for future hubs.

Mr Barr said there would be taller buildings in the centre of each village, with heights reducing as you got further from the main intersection and light rail stop.

“On the outskirts of Canberra, it will feel more like bushland,” he said.

“As you progress nearer the city, well-designed buildings, with the taller ones centred on major intersections and light rail stops, will clearly identify each urban village. The landscaping will become more formal: trees planted in straight lines. The transition into the national triangle will be clear. Run-down buildings will be replaced.”

Mr Barr said the villages would be places to live, work and play – with new employers, retail, cafes, services and urban parks within walking or cycling distance of neighbouring suburbs.

“The buildings should be impressive and the landscaping should be beautiful. It should also be uniquely Canberra, reflecting our position as the world’s most liveable city and as the bush capital. It should reflect our determination to continue to come of age as a modern, international city and our determination not to become another traffic-choked city like Sydney,” he said.

Have your say on the proposal and see more artists’ impressions and maps at http://haveyoursay.planning.act.gov.au


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66 Responses to
Plaza would revitalise Civic’s iconic Sydney and Melbourne Buildings: Barr
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miz 9:20 am 23 Jan 16

The opening credits of House of Cards show how beautiful height-restricted Washington DC is. I expect Walter and Marion planned Canberra to look similar.
Personally I would have no problem with higher density if it looked as good as that, instead of the monstrosities we usually end up with.
Thankfully the South Quay at Tuggeranong is not going to be as high as planners wanted, (which would have drastically obscured beloved Brindabella views) but other areas have not been so lucky.
One of the best things about living in Canberra until recently has been the egalitarian access to views of the horizon and lakes. No dollars in it for developers, though, and sadly this principle seems to be going by the wayside (e.g. Kingston Foreshore now blocks a fair chunk and there is ongoing agitation from developers to choke up other parts of the lake which will make them solely the preserve of the moneyed classes. I consider this ‘unCanberran.’

dungfungus 12:39 am 23 Jan 16

Nilrem said :

dungfungus said :

wottaway said :

For starters,why are so many old articles included on new Riots?

The Plaza idea sounds the goods,BUT,not at the expense of road space in the centre of town.Crazy.

Thirdly,come the Republic,the first name change that should occur is ‘London’ Circuit.When I first arrived in Canberra early in ’66,I could not believe that the main thoroughfare connecting many points in the centre of the city was LONDON Circuit! And I still can’t.One of these days Australia might stand on its’ own two feet,perpetuating this nonsense won’t help.

And what name would you suggest?

Washington Circuit.

I was certain you would have said Pyongyang.
The ACT is more aligned to North Korea than the the USA.

dungfungus 12:36 am 23 Jan 16

rubaiyat said :

dungfungus said :

This will be popular in the warm months but the other 8 months of the year it will be deserted.
When will our leaders realise that Canberra is not the Costa del Sol?

when they realise the sun is in the north and Canberra is blessed with long delightfully sunny winter days, all we need to do is get the sunshine and block off the southerlies.

That they still have not managed to notice this in your face obvious fact in over a hundred years does not bode well for future planning. Happily the locals are equally mystified at how anything works, so a marriage made in “heaven”..

“Now where did that sun go to again?”

So you actually agree with what I said?

Masquara 5:21 pm 22 Jan 16

Jane Easthope said :

The strategy just didn’t pop into bureaucrats heads – it was a very well run series of forums last year. Present were representatives from residents groups, industry groups, indigenous community and more. The organisers had covered all bases. It was open, collaborative, and interrogated a range of options, took account of all points of view and I think was a good experience for everyone involved. It was facilitated by the private sector and government representatives were there to respond to queries, not to manipulate the discussion. The published plans including Sullivans Creek are the preferred outcome by all present. People tend think it’s going to happen right now – this could take a century to be realised (and so it should). It’s a complex equation of supply and demand.

Regarding the Plaza -three lanes are retained. The verge widening is at the expense of the bus and loading zone and turn left lane. This is a terrific opportunity to increase pedestrian use alongside and across the barrier between City East and City West. It is an opportunity to celebrate these two buildings because we don’t have a Town Hall or a Cathedral. When complete let’s bring Enlighten into the City and wash these buildings with moving colour. What do you think?

The majority of cars are passing through Civic and I hope that the traffic modelling is correct and this will decrease as Majura and Gungahlin Drives increase in popularity. Public transport will also assist. The median is a forecourt to the City station which is north of Alinga. I’m looking forward to seeing the details.

I was at a series of “consultative forums” run by the ACT Government a few years ago. It was utterly dishonest: the company running the “consultation” had exactly the outcomes they wanted in mind, and did things like miscounting shows of hands from the tables; and somehow massaging various “top three desired outcomes” from the tables into what the government wanted, not what the people at the tables were saying were their priorities. It was a spectacular show of cleverness and slipperiness. Even though the presenters were miked, there were no recordings made, just notes taken (and presumably further massaged and content altered).

rubaiyat 3:37 pm 22 Jan 16

chewy14 said :

rubaiyat said :

OpenYourMind said :

rubaiyat said :

rommeldog56 said :

rubaiyat said :

Well Canberra drivers are what they are. Extremely selfish, with pedestrians fair targets because they deserve everything they get by walking in the open air.

Where has anyone said or even implied on here that Canberra drivers regard pedestrians as “fair targets” ???

That is just an absurd interpretation & claim.

What ever message (apart from your obvious contempt for car owners, overweight people, anyone who doesn’t use public transport and no doubt, anyone who doesn’t share your views) you try to convey, however well intended, is often lost in these extreme interpretations, assumptions and statements.

I am struck every time I travel anywhere else in Australia, particularly Sydney, how drivers mostly politely stop and let you cross the road.

In Canberra most pedestrians instinctively give cars the right of way on pedestrian crossing because they know it is dangerous to do otherwise. My wife (being Canberran from long back), like you denies this, but I observe that she will not step off onto a pedestrian crossing until all the traffic has passed, rendering the the crossing pointless.

My statements on the behaviour of car drivers and the state of Canberran wastelines is only confirmed simple observation and by the arrogant assumptions made here, that circle round and round and round their “One True Way” blindspot. ie Drive or Die! The Canberra Way!

From my own equally anecdotal evidence, I call BS on this one. I’ve find using a pedestrian crossing here no different to any other Australian city.

Pity we can’t post video evidence here.

I can not only call BS on your BS, I can substantiate that.

So you have detailed videos from randomly chosen pedestrian crossings around Australia (or just Sydney and Canberra) showing how pedestrians and drivers behave differently at crossings?

Or do you simply spend more time with your wife who seems to be very cautious? The confirmation bias seems strong in this one.

I can show exactly how pedestrians forcing the crossing will have a Canberra driver often still trying to push it, sometimes rapidly braking in the zebra crossing itself, or shooting through irregardless.

Then I can show you how simply stepping off the curb in Sydney will have a driver pull up to let you cross and certainly stop before you even step onto the pedestrian crossing, just look like you might cross.

btw It may be the small country town thing. I noticed the same thing in Cairns as Canberra.

rubaiyat 2:00 pm 22 Jan 16

dungfungus said :

This will be popular in the warm months but the other 8 months of the year it will be deserted.
When will our leaders realise that Canberra is not the Costa del Sol?

when they realise the sun is in the north and Canberra is blessed with long delightfully sunny winter days, all we need to do is get the sunshine and block off the southerlies.

That they still have not managed to notice this in your face obvious fact in over a hundred years does not bode well for future planning. Happily the locals are equally mystified at how anything works, so a marriage made in “heaven”..

“Now where did that sun go to again?”

Nilrem 12:31 pm 22 Jan 16

dungfungus said :

wottaway said :

For starters,why are so many old articles included on new Riots?

The Plaza idea sounds the goods,BUT,not at the expense of road space in the centre of town.Crazy.

Thirdly,come the Republic,the first name change that should occur is ‘London’ Circuit.When I first arrived in Canberra early in ’66,I could not believe that the main thoroughfare connecting many points in the centre of the city was LONDON Circuit! And I still can’t.One of these days Australia might stand on its’ own two feet,perpetuating this nonsense won’t help.

And what name would you suggest?

Washington Circuit.

dungfungus 11:43 am 22 Jan 16

wottaway said :

For starters,why are so many old articles included on new Riots?

The Plaza idea sounds the goods,BUT,not at the expense of road space in the centre of town.Crazy.

Thirdly,come the Republic,the first name change that should occur is ‘London’ Circuit.When I first arrived in Canberra early in ’66,I could not believe that the main thoroughfare connecting many points in the centre of the city was LONDON Circuit! And I still can’t.One of these days Australia might stand on its’ own two feet,perpetuating this nonsense won’t help.

And what name would you suggest?

dungfungus 9:43 am 22 Jan 16

This will be popular in the warm months but the other 8 months of the year it will be deserted.
When will our leaders realise that Canberra is not the Costa del Sol?
Why are the men in the artist’s impression wearing white hoodies and the women wearing white hijabs?
How far into the future is the artist projecting?

Paul2913 10:38 pm 21 Jan 16

rommeldog56 said :

Stuff up the traffic flow on Northborne Ave even more by increasing density along it (something identified that would in the ACT Govt’s own EIS), then when/if traffic clears Civic and gets onto Vernon circle, slow it down to 40kph so its even harder and takes longer to clear through Civic.

Yep – makes perfect sense. Now, I wonder if that will clog the city with traffic ? No, surely not……

RommelDog, you’re missing the point. The whole idea is to make Civic congested and unattractive for drivers, they’re also reducing parking areas and increasing parking costs to go with it.

We’re all expected to catch the tram, that’s the only way it’ll have a hope of becomming cost-neutral.

wottaway 9:24 pm 21 Jan 16

For starters,why are so many old articles included on new Riots?

The Plaza idea sounds the goods,BUT,not at the expense of road space in the centre of town.Crazy.

Thirdly,come the Republic,the first name change that should occur is ‘London’ Circuit.When I first arrived in Canberra early in ’66,I could not believe that the main thoroughfare connecting many points in the centre of the city was LONDON Circuit! And I still can’t.One of these days Australia might stand on its’ own two feet,perpetuating this nonsense won’t help.

rubaiyat 5:33 pm 21 Jan 16

bikhet said :

rubaiyat said :

The typically false logic here is that because something is done badly in one instance the principle is bad.

While the principle may not be bad, execution of the Urban Village (whatever that means) will e done by the same people who did Bunda Street. The precedent is ominous.

rubaiyat said :

Bunda Street was done on the cheap (design wise) but no doubt cost an absolute fortune to build.

And, for the same reason as above, why would anyone expect the “Urban Village” to be different?

So the problem is not the principle, it is who does it.

Then get the designers of New Acton, the Claremont Centre or Britomart on the job.

The trouble is everyone here has painted themselves into the certitude that nothing can EVER be done well in their estimation so they oppose everything.

Well not everything, they just love anything mediocre, polluting and expensive, involving cars.

btw Everyone celebrating 2015 “The Hottest Year Ever” by a league?

Yay, we did it!!

There will be a brief heads bowed whilst we think of butterflies and gasket heads, and then continue on with ignoring it all.

chewy14 5:25 pm 21 Jan 16

rubaiyat said :

OpenYourMind said :

rubaiyat said :

rommeldog56 said :

rubaiyat said :

Well Canberra drivers are what they are. Extremely selfish, with pedestrians fair targets because they deserve everything they get by walking in the open air.

Where has anyone said or even implied on here that Canberra drivers regard pedestrians as “fair targets” ???

That is just an absurd interpretation & claim.

What ever message (apart from your obvious contempt for car owners, overweight people, anyone who doesn’t use public transport and no doubt, anyone who doesn’t share your views) you try to convey, however well intended, is often lost in these extreme interpretations, assumptions and statements.

I am struck every time I travel anywhere else in Australia, particularly Sydney, how drivers mostly politely stop and let you cross the road.

In Canberra most pedestrians instinctively give cars the right of way on pedestrian crossing because they know it is dangerous to do otherwise. My wife (being Canberran from long back), like you denies this, but I observe that she will not step off onto a pedestrian crossing until all the traffic has passed, rendering the the crossing pointless.

My statements on the behaviour of car drivers and the state of Canberran wastelines is only confirmed simple observation and by the arrogant assumptions made here, that circle round and round and round their “One True Way” blindspot. ie Drive or Die! The Canberra Way!

From my own equally anecdotal evidence, I call BS on this one. I’ve find using a pedestrian crossing here no different to any other Australian city.

Pity we can’t post video evidence here.

I can not only call BS on your BS, I can substantiate that.

So you have detailed videos from randomly chosen pedestrian crossings around Australia (or just Sydney and Canberra) showing how pedestrians and drivers behave differently at crossings?

Or do you simply spend more time with your wife who seems to be very cautious? The confirmation bias seems strong in this one.

rubaiyat 5:13 pm 21 Jan 16

Arthur Davies said :

A CBD WAS NEVER INTENDED.

When you don’t know, CAPITILISE the “fact”.

Walter Burley Griffin actually labelled City Hill as “Civic Centre” and the proposed main Train Station on the rail line to Sydney was to be on the East side of exactly where the Light Rail is proposed to terminate, adjacent to the commercial/retail.

These are the actual drawings published by The Federal Capital Commision:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/australia/images/canberra-plan.jpg

Jane Easthope 5:09 pm 21 Jan 16

The strategy just didn’t pop into bureaucrats heads – it was a very well run series of forums last year. Present were representatives from residents groups, industry groups, indigenous community and more. The organisers had covered all bases. It was open, collaborative, and interrogated a range of options, took account of all points of view and I think was a good experience for everyone involved. It was facilitated by the private sector and government representatives were there to respond to queries, not to manipulate the discussion. The published plans including Sullivans Creek are the preferred outcome by all present. People tend think it’s going to happen right now – this could take a century to be realised (and so it should). It’s a complex equation of supply and demand.

Regarding the Plaza -three lanes are retained. The verge widening is at the expense of the bus and loading zone and turn left lane. This is a terrific opportunity to increase pedestrian use alongside and across the barrier between City East and City West. It is an opportunity to celebrate these two buildings because we don’t have a Town Hall or a Cathedral. When complete let’s bring Enlighten into the City and wash these buildings with moving colour. What do you think?

The majority of cars are passing through Civic and I hope that the traffic modelling is correct and this will decrease as Majura and Gungahlin Drives increase in popularity. Public transport will also assist. The median is a forecourt to the City station which is north of Alinga. I’m looking forward to seeing the details.

Michele the Celebrant 5:07 pm 21 Jan 16

Wonderful!

bj_ACT 4:51 pm 21 Jan 16

I thought there would be more concern on here about replacing Haig Park with high rise accommodation, workplaces and shops.

The paper at the land and planning website says a Urban Village will be located at Haig Park and that an Urban Village is a medium to high density hub. They are places with homes, shops, cafes,…. .

This is terrible that the original park of Canberra is getting high rises, what a disaster for future generations who will need some green space in the northern side of the inner city.

gazket 4:29 pm 21 Jan 16

rubaiyat said :

and good luck with getting anybody wanting be near all the cars and traffic!

There is a reason nearly all the shopfronts along Northbourne and the bus terminus are all painted up and devoid of life.[eyeroll]

people will won’t live in a city with cars and roads. The Sydney buildings empty because it’s run down and no doubt high rent for the run down shop front.

I don’t know who owns them but they are both Sydney and Melbourne buildings are run down . The buildings should gutted and turned into a “A” shaped high rise. Keep the original front facades and tie them into the new building .

ChrisinTurner 4:21 pm 21 Jan 16

Northbourne Avenue should be immediately changed into two lanes of traffic and one bus lane with the traffic signals synchronised for buses. Light rail will not alter this need, and probably won’t happen because Light Rail will need a subsidy of $20/boarding compared with $7/boarding for ACTION and will be less frequent, slower, have stations further away and only have half the seats of our existing public transport system.

Arthur Davies 3:26 pm 21 Jan 16

World wide studies show, without any doubt, that proximity to high traffic causes increased health problems. So I find the idea of highly populated pedestrian areas anywhere along Northbourne to be highly undesirable, let alone between the Melbourne & Sydney buildings.

The hazards include the obvious gases, CO, NOx, unburnt hydrocarbons, SO2 etc. But dust, especially very fine dust that goes deep into the lungs, is equally dangerous. This dust arises from engine exhausts, wear of tyres & the road surface, brake linings, etc. If trams go ahead then dust from their brakes, wear & corrosion of wheels & rails etc. Add to that the noise from adjacent traffic which also has deleterious health effects, the physical danger from the traffic itself & there is a long term health disaster coming. However the hazard has a long (but sure) lead time & the polys are trading on the fact that they will be long out of office before it hits the fan (remember the history of cigarettes & asbestos). Footpath trendy cafes are a very bad idea for this area, waiters will be saying to customers “do you want a dust mask & earmuffs with your coffee”?

A major hazard for people living along Northbourne (or any major traffic route) is the presence of lead in the soils near the roads. This is a poisonous legacy from the past use of lead in fuel, this lead is retained for very long periods in the soil (or until it enters the mouths of toddlers). So allowing residential development alongside our transport routes is folly indeed.

Past planners did very well in this regard in that they put residents around community centres well back from the traffic routes, away from the very real health hazards. Even Northbourne Av development was not a serious problem as all the verges were “commercial” where workers were in filtered air offices, no houses or schools.

Also included in the overall design were several “town centres” with their own infrastructure, A CBD WAS NEVER INTENDED. That town centre design premise is what makes Canberra unique, if you wish to have a CBD then move to a city that has one, virtually every other city in Australia fills that bill. We must cherish & nurture our unique features if we wish to keep the character of Canberra & attract visitors who come because we have a unique environment.

It is however essential to have fast & convenient transport between town centres to reduce the traffic congestion especially at peak hours. Unfortunately trams have been shown world wide to be too slow to fill that need. There is a need for modern, cheaper, faster, dare one say innovative, alternatives which will meet commuter’s needs & develop a sense of pride & ownership in Canberrans. But that is another issue which I will not go into in detail here.

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