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

By 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
rubaiyat 7:16 pm 18 Jan 16

Dreadnaught1905 said :

rubaiyat said :

Hope it will work, but aren’t these the people that caused the problem in the first place, …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.

I think there could be a case for pushing all of the southbound traffic around the proposed ‘plaza’ development. If the main thoroughfare was changed to push traffic down Cooyong or Barry drive and onto Constitution Avenue or Edinburgh Avenue (or something along those lines) it might improve traffic flow.

I agree that the end of Northbourne Avenue, and especially the London Circuit Intersection is ugly and car-dominated. Perhaps building this plaza could also mean that the lovely grassed area inside vernon circuit could be used as more accessible parkland?

Although this entire concept might mean that people might have to park an additional 3 minute walk from their destination in the city. I’m not entirely sure that the voting public in Canberra would accept that…

Here we have the result of the NCDC “Vision Splendid”.

They came, they saw, and they turned City Hill into a massive Traffic Island circled by high speed traffic.

Those who suggest City Hill be converted into improved parkland seriously need to actually get out of their cars, although given their now generous proportions that may prove difficult. It is quite a climb to the top and there is nowhere you would want to settle to smell the fumes. Even though there are a few hardy souls who overnight there on a permanent basis.

Typically the latest batch of ACT Planners have dismissed topography and climate as the subjects they skipped in year 2. There are plans afoot to surround Vernon Circle with high rise offices and apartments with sufficient gaps to permit southerly gales to form a Dysonesque wind turbine in the centre.

When I questioned the planners as to the traffic, they said they’ll solve that with “Traffic Calming” ie 40km speed limit. Nothing like the combination of Canberra Road Rage mixed in with pedestrians trying to cut across this new pointy Town Square (ignoring the shape as well as the climate and orientation).

rommeldog56 6:57 pm 18 Jan 16

From the OP :

” 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.”

A “fitting enterence” that will be dominated by high rise concrete monstrosities the closer u get to Civic. Great.

So, costings have not been released. I can not wait to see the infrastructure costs of this and an explanation of how this “Urban Village” (a cute term !) vision will delay the expansion of the Tram to other parts of Canberra. As I recall, already the Tram isn’t slated to extend to Tuggeranong for well over a decade – maybe longer.

The same sort of “Urban Village” development should be able to be achieved with a much cheaper Rapid Buss Transit system instead of the mega expensive Tram.

From the OP :

“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,”

Hahaha…….the “bush capital” – full of concrete high rises ? The high rises should be “mpressive buildings” – who ever envisages that needs to have a look at the high rise buildings going up in Canberra now – many (but not all) are pig ugly, lack aesthetics and green credentials, not to mention quality of construction.

But Sydney has 6+ million residents – how can Canberra possible become as traffic clogged as that ! Give us a break with the spin.

I think Canberra needs to “grow up” and “modenise” by getting rid of a Government that clearly can not write cheques for their vision – except by tapping into ACT Ratepayers and taxpayers even more than they are !

PS : Who’s tipping a “congestion tax” on ACT vehicles – or even a toll road bypassing the new “Urban Villages” and Civic ?

HiddenDragon 6:55 pm 18 Jan 16

The volume of traffic on Northbourne Avenue is surely one of the reasons that the Sydney and Melbourne Buildings have yet to enjoy the renaissance which many Canberrans would wish for them, but clearly not the only reason – otherwise, things would presumably be looking better on all the other sides of those buildings.

Similarly, if the issue is about having sufficient numbers of people living within easy walking distance (and not involving crossing a big, scary road like Northbourne….) of those buildings, why hasn’t the proliferation of nearby apartments in the last decade, or so, provided the magic bullet?

Rather than wasting time with this window-dressing, it would be simpler and more honest for the ACT Government to say “we need to get as much money as we can out of redeveloping Northbourne, and there’s going to be lots of high rise – so get used to it.”

On a point of detail, does “artist’s impression” software only produce white people? couldn’t we have rainbow colours for our fantasy plaza???

rommeldog56 6:36 pm 18 Jan 16

Nilrem said :

And there’s the tragedy of Canberran democracy!

There is nothing wrong with “democracy” in Canberra.

There is a minority Government (that has been put into power by an assist by the ACT Greens – who have in essence, corrupted their “independence” and policy stances by accepting a Ministership in the ACT Labor Gov’t), a minority Gov’t that refused to produced costings and revenue projections to support their claim that the avg 10%pa increase in Annual Rates over 20+ years (now forever) would be “Revenue Neutral” (subsequent ACT appropriation bills show that was a lie !), a minority Gov’t that is plowing ahead with light rail and breaching their 2012 election undertakings to spend $x only on related pre planning (a figure that was blown out of the water by actual $ spent) – including not disclosing that they intended to start construction prior to the 2016 election….etc….etc.

The real “tragedy of Canberran democracy” is that ACT voters and ratepayers put up with this…….

gooterz 5:44 pm 18 Jan 16

Perhaps we need a tram to connect east and west civic.
Canberra does not have one city but 4.

If Barr ever ventured south or west he’d soon see signs saying city pointing to belconnen tuggeranong and woden.

So much waste. If you want highrise move to Sydney. Maybe Barr would be happier there.

sepi 5:22 pm 18 Jan 16

Northbourne is pretty busy, especially at peak ties. What happens to all the traffic if they shrink the road by building wide footpaths?

What is the plaza exactly?

Nilrem 3:03 pm 18 Jan 16

Dreadnaught1905 said :

rubaiyat said :

Hope it will work, but aren’t these the people that caused the problem in the first place, …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.

I think there could be a case for pushing all of the southbound traffic around the proposed ‘plaza’ development. If the main thoroughfare was changed to push traffic down Cooyong or Barry drive and onto Constitution Avenue or Edinburgh Avenue (or something along those lines) it might improve traffic flow.

I agree that the end of Northbourne Avenue, and especially the London Circuit Intersection is ugly and car-dominated. Perhaps building this plaza could also mean that the lovely grassed area inside vernon circuit could be used as more accessible parkland?

Although this entire concept might mean that people might have to park an additional 3 minute walk from their destination in the city. I’m not entirely sure that the voting public in Canberra would accept that…

And there’s the tragedy of Canberran democracy!

Dreadnaught1905 2:50 pm 18 Jan 16

rubaiyat said :

Hope it will work, but aren’t these the people that caused the problem in the first place, …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.

I think there could be a case for pushing all of the southbound traffic around the proposed ‘plaza’ development. If the main thoroughfare was changed to push traffic down Cooyong or Barry drive and onto Constitution Avenue or Edinburgh Avenue (or something along those lines) it might improve traffic flow.

I agree that the end of Northbourne Avenue, and especially the London Circuit Intersection is ugly and car-dominated. Perhaps building this plaza could also mean that the lovely grassed area inside vernon circuit could be used as more accessible parkland?

Although this entire concept might mean that people might have to park an additional 3 minute walk from their destination in the city. I’m not entirely sure that the voting public in Canberra would accept that…

dungfungus 2:34 pm 18 Jan 16

Someone has been spiking the water bottles in London Circuit with fairy dust, methinks.
There used to be a Manuka Village I think, what happened to it?

rubaiyat 1:50 pm 18 Jan 16

Paul Costigan said :

..and most of it does not address climate change.

Can you show me ANY that does?

The whole of the brand spanking new Molonglo does not and also doesn’t even have a transport plan beyond pouring more cars into the existing roads.

Not green wash, its bleedin’ obvious eyewash.

I’ve just inspected a range of the new developments in Kingston which has ample space to raise the density but do it with quality and good planning. None of those are evident. What is evident is bad design, open space consumed, greed dictating that units are badly laid out and crammed in to the max, with no-one getting any sunshine, let alone the winter sunshine that should be every Canberran’s birthright.

Units now have internal bedrooms with no windows!

Same old, same old Stupid with a capital $ all to benefit a small bunch of people getting rich so they can live somewhere else, better.

bringontheevidence 12:57 pm 18 Jan 16

Having a look at the proposed development images it’s interesting to note that there isn’t actually a lot of rezoning required for this ‘new’ plan. Most of the areas along Northbourne, Macarthur etc are already zoned for high density residential, consistent with this proposal. The only real change is some additional high density areas in Downer and maybe some increases in height/density and a shift to more mixed use around the tram stops.

I like the proposal to reinvigorate the parklands/creek. These are currently underutilised and could do with a bit of a spruce up.

rubaiyat 12:33 pm 18 Jan 16

Hope it will work, but aren’t these the people that caused the problem in the first place, …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.

Look forward to the coming Dawn of The Autonomous Ride on Mower that will fix everything!

…because you won’t have to drive to drive! [eyeroll]

MERC600 12:11 pm 18 Jan 16

Mr Barr mentions Urban Villages. Now I regret I don’t really know what he means here.
A refurbed suburb shopping centre with high rise ? or rather more high rise.

Paul Costigan 12:10 pm 18 Jan 16

I’ll get a word or two in here before the anti-tram lobby gets to dominate.

I have seen earlier versions of the planning for the Northbourne corridor and I have to say the planners are doing a good job. A couple of issues were identified.

These new centres, urban villages, will have an impact on the present suburban shops – something we hope is being considered in the context for the planning for the whole of the inner north.

The more interesting fact that was revealed in one meeting was that the present development codes along each side of the corridor will provide more than enough new residential requirements to more than meet future demands.

This fact indicated clearly was that any further changes to the codes covering the rest of the inner north are not required.

This small bit of information in turn begs the question why the LDA/directorate keeps pushing for even more intense developments (land sales) when it is not required across the whole of the inner north suburbs.

Meanwhile there are presently loads of new housing and redevelopments happening within the inner north – the LDA/directorate should just allow it to happen and not use the Northbourne developments as their fabricated reason for more. And as usual – some of the new stuff is good, much of it is ordinary and most of it does not address climate change.

The real test for the new Northbourne corridor will be whether the good planning effort is followed through to deliver quality or whether the LDA/directorate again allows the development lobby to have its way and deliver loads of unsustainable bland boxes and token green wash.

In the right hands – the new Northbourne Avenue could be a great change – long overdue! Is that being too optimistic given who is the minister for urban development?

Nilrem 11:59 am 18 Jan 16

I think the Plaza is a step in the right direction. At present Northbourne Avenue chops the city in two, undermining any attempt to make the City a more welcoming environment.

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