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Shock and outrage at West Basin land swap with Curtin horse paddocks

Ian Bushnell 25 March 2020 83
The proposed lakeside park at West Basin

A render of the proposed lakeside park at West Basin. Image: City Renewal Authority.

A land swap between the ACT Government and the National Capital Authority involving West Basin and the North Curtin horse paddocks has been greeted with outrage by shell-shocked community activists and equestrian groups.

The NCA revealed on its website yesterday that the Commonwealth had secured land in Curtin for the expansion of the ACT’s diplomatic community, either to build new embassies or residences over the next 25 years.

The deal also clears the way for the planned redevelopment of the West Basin area on Lake Burley Griffin in the city, where the building of up to 2000 apartments has been flagged.

The City Renewal Authority’s next planned stage includes reclaiming the 2.8 hectares of lake bed to expand the boardwalk, followed by building another lakeside park, landscaped public spaces and eventually residential development.

While the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians were aware of the negotiations, the ACT Equestrian Association was blindsided by the deal which will carve 70 per cent of the North Curtin paddocks off for diplomatic use.

The other 30 per cent fronts Yarra Glen on the proposed light rail Stage 2 route to Woden and would be prime land for development along a public transport corridor.

Lake Burley Griffin Guardians representative Juliet Ramsay said the group was devastated and the deal set a frightful precedent.

“We cannot believe the Commonwealth cannot buy land or simply acquire land for embassies, and the fact that it is using the lake bed as a swap deal is appalling,” she said.

”It will be so damaging to the heritage of the lake and its parkland area.”

She said the NCA had avoided following through with the heritage listing of the lake and parklands and the government’s plans would destroy the balance and symmetry of the lake.

The result would be the loss of parkland and 200 trees and the blocking of vistas from Vernon Circle and New Acton, including those from Morris Property Group’s Barracks development.

Ms Ramsay said whatever park is being planned at West Basin would not have parking and would essentially be for residents.

The Lake Burley Griffin Guardians said it would campaign against the Barr Government at the October election and hoped a Liberal government would reconsider the plans for West Basin.

City Renewal Authority CEO Malcolm Snow said the deal would allow the City Renewal Authority to proceed with the second stage of its plan for a new urban waterfront at West Basin – the Acton Waterfront project.

Following on from the creation of Henry Rolland Park and the construction of 150 metres of new boardwalk, the second stage would extend the lake edge boardwalk by a further 500 metres realigning the lake edge consistent with the National Capital Authority’s 2002 Griffin Legacy plan, as well as two more public jetties.

He said that future stages would be subject to the NCA’s Works Approval and ACT budget bids, and include the construction of a new lakefront park and landscaped public spaces adjacent to the boardwalk that will separate the lake edge from any new buildings.

The North Curtin Horse Paddocks location

The portion of the North Curtin Horse Paddocks that will become a diplomatic estate. Image: NCA.

New buildings would be set back a minimum of 55 metres from the lake edge in accordance with National Capital Plan requirements but smaller public kiosks would be permitted on the boardwalk.

Construction of stage two was scheduled to commence in the second half of the year but may have to be reviewed due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

President of the ACT Equestrian Association Christine Lawrence said the horseriding community was shocked by the news.

She said the land had always been attractive for developers due to its position but it was a significant part of a network of paddocks and trails that included Equestrian Park at Curtin and the Arboretum.

Ms Lawrence said people had been using the land since the 1970s and the government had only last year reassured the association that it would not be rezoned.

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman has also flatly rejected suggestions that the Curtin horse paddocks would be released for development.

But horse owners will not have to move immediately as the NCA has a deal with Territory Agistment until 2022.

The NCA has told the association that development at the Curtin site would not commence until sometime in 2023/24 because the National Capital Plan will need to be amended and an estate development plan created.

The association will be talking with City Services and the planning directorate about appropriate land to replace what is being lost.

The North Curtin Horse Holding Paddocks are located off McCulloch Street in Curtin. The complex comprises 30 hectares divided into five paddocks.

The NCA said that it has been approached by a number of missions wanting to establish or expand diplomatic representation in Australia and these requests had not been able to be met to date.

With regard to West Basin, it said it was the approval authority and would ensure that all development was of a high quality and well designed.


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83 Responses to Shock and outrage at West Basin land swap with Curtin horse paddocks
Lisa Ries Lisa Ries 10:16 pm 25 Mar 20

Geocon for sure, well done Andrew Barr

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 9:46 pm 25 Mar 20

Sadly, not surprised. It is an election year though. Let’s not forget that.

    Annabel Dobson Annabel Dobson 10:30 pm 25 Mar 20

    Gabriel Spacca agree. We fought this once before and against all odds we won with our Save Open Spaces campaign, you can fight it again

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 8:54 pm 25 Mar 20

“The deal also clears the way for the planned redevelopment of the West Basin area on Lake Burley Griffin in the city, where the building of up to 2000 apartments has been flagged.”

Which will, of course, be dressed up as an employment initiative – particularly for all the hospitality and personal services workers now looking for an income…….

Brian Hogan Brian Hogan 8:42 pm 25 Mar 20

Another gov looking after foreigners before Australians

Mark Huppert Mark Huppert 8:33 pm 25 Mar 20

Horse paddocks don't belong in inner Canberra.

    Jackie White Jackie White 10:21 pm 25 Mar 20

    Says who? Why not?

    Mark Huppert Mark Huppert 10:30 pm 25 Mar 20

    Jackie White Me. The land is adjacent to the diplomatic residential area in inner Canberra. The land there is scarce and expensive. Horse paddocks belong in areas like Hall and Tharwa.

    Annabel Dobson Annabel Dobson 10:32 pm 25 Mar 20

    Mark Huppert that’s ridiculous. They’ve been part of our urban landscape in Canberra for 40 years, and they’re integral to our bush capital lifestyle. I’m guessing you don’t own a horse!!

    Jackie White Jackie White 10:33 pm 25 Mar 20

    Big whoop for you. I say they do. They are part of the charm of this city - having farmland and bush around makes it delightful.

    Mark Huppert Mark Huppert 10:34 pm 25 Mar 20

    Annabel Dobson Of course not. What would I do with a horse?

Andrew Jack Andrew Jack 8:10 pm 25 Mar 20

Next they will be back filling parts of the lake just to build more poorly constructed apartment buildings

    Anne Paliaga Anne Paliaga 9:15 pm 25 Mar 20

    The plan includes infilling a third of west basin and accommodation for 3500 people.

    Annabel Dobson Annabel Dobson 10:34 pm 25 Mar 20

    Andrew Jack Geocon all the way I bet.

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 11:05 pm 25 Mar 20

    Annabel Dobson hopefully Geocon do get some of this land, totally agree

Juz Hawke Juz Hawke 8:08 pm 25 Mar 20

Disgusting 😡

Joesephine Beckett Joesephine Beckett 7:48 pm 25 Mar 20

I think it’s great 👍🏻 🙂

Warwick Jay Warwick Jay 7:37 pm 25 Mar 20

Get this done while a crisis distracts everyone. Remind me how the tradies land swap worked out???

Phil Andrews Phil Andrews 7:30 pm 25 Mar 20

Who’s in bed with who (or whom!)

Sher Young Sher Young 7:21 pm 25 Mar 20

Barr humbug VOTE him OUT!

Shayne Borger Shayne Borger 6:56 pm 25 Mar 20

Like we should be surprised at being sold out by Labor

Christie Menegazzo Christie Menegazzo 6:54 pm 25 Mar 20

👎👎 when are canberra voters going to wake up

    Sher Young Sher Young 7:21 pm 25 Mar 20

    Christie Menegazzo hopefully soon!

    Jackie White Jackie White 10:34 pm 25 Mar 20

    you don't think the alternative major party would somehow be LESS inclined to do such things????

John Mavrogenes John Mavrogenes 6:53 pm 25 Mar 20

We must fight this!

    Annabel Dobson Annabel Dobson 10:34 pm 25 Mar 20

    John Mavrogenes agreed. We fought it last time too and won. Get the opposition MPs onside.

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 11:04 pm 25 Mar 20

    John Mavrogenes why?? What on earth can you have against making that part of the lake usable?

    Ally Ryan Ally Ryan 6:59 am 26 Mar 20

    Elroy Jones it’s already usable and used! Why should they need to build units and embassies on the little tiny bit of fairly natural land left near that part of the lake, $s

Daniel Howell Daniel Howell 6:46 pm 25 Mar 20

Bush capital ha

Gwg Heldon Gwg Heldon 6:44 pm 25 Mar 20

Surprised?? No.

Although it's interesting to know that anyone in the ACT Government knew where North Curtin was. Probably had to be shown on a map.

Amanda Eisman Amanda Eisman 6:43 pm 25 Mar 20

Hate to say it but this government has to go.

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 11:03 pm 25 Mar 20

    Amanda Eisman for making the west basin usable? Are you serious??

54-11 54-11 6:41 pm 25 Mar 20

If only we had a credible and electable opposition for the October election. We’d send this current mob to the wall and reverse some of these unacceptable decisions.

As it is, we have no choice but to suck it up. Shame on you, Canberra Liberals and Alistair Coe.

Chris Tony Chris Tony 6:38 pm 25 Mar 20

So excited for the West basin development. Finally turn those giant car parks into proper community space. Done right can be a beautiful space.

    Sophia Lawrance Sophia Lawrance 7:22 pm 25 Mar 20

    Chris Tony 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 11:03 pm 25 Mar 20

    Chris Tony absolutely agree

    Julia Ross Julia Ross 5:18 pm 26 Mar 20

    Bahaha, done right? The apartments will be horrid grey concrete boxes of dubious quality. Like most of the other apartments around, none of them display any architectural difference. Even visitors we have taken around comment at the lack of difference in design and colour.

    Little boxes made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same!!

    Chris Tony Chris Tony 6:20 pm 26 Mar 20

    100% these developments need to be done better. Especially at West basin, that site should be world class. Going to be a big tourist attraction if its done properly.

    Canberra is a city that is going to grow and needs to grow. The community should get involved and demand quality buildings that are interesting to look at. I think we are getting better at it. (slowly)

    But I definitely don't agree with the vocal amount of Canberrans that just attack every development and demand it gets cancelled. Alot of those stop everything now groups are really hurting canberra

Robyn Baer Robyn Baer 6:29 pm 25 Mar 20

Not the bush capital. Its the concrete capital.

    Annabel Dobson Annabel Dobson 10:35 pm 25 Mar 20

    Robyn Baer only if you sit back and do nothing

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 11:03 pm 25 Mar 20

    Robyn Baer no not the bush capital. It’s a city

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