5 May 2023

Spy precinct's Parkes car park gets environmental green light

| Ian Bushnell
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John Gorton car park

An artist’s impression of the proposed car park for the John Gorton Building and National Security Precinct. Photos: BVN Architecture.

The five-level car park to be built next to the John Gorton Building in Parkes has cleared environmental approval. The new facility will replace parking where the proposed National Security Precinct will be built in Barton.

The 1070-space car park will be built on the existing Dorothy Tangney Place on-grade car park and also include a 170-space childcare centre and end-of-trip facilities to cater for the expected increase in workforce numbers.

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This is considered the first stage of the security precinct development, and it will also include upgrades to access roads and the Kings Avenue and Blackall Street intersection, as well as landscaping.

The project covers 4.57 hectares and was referred under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act for environmental approval. A works application has been lodged with the National Capital Authority and it will also require Parliamentary approval.

A satellite-view image of what the project will look like

An overview of the project, its footprint and associated roadworks.

The approval comes with a list of conditions including tree protection and replacement, and a height limit of 17.7 metres so as not to impact the Parliament House Vista and John Gorton Building.

The developer must not clear outside of the project area and create a Tree Protection Zone for the more than 50 identified trees that will be retained.

But 50 trees will go, indirectly impacting gang gang cockatoos and superb parrots, matters of national environmental significance.

Forty-eight of these will have to be replaced, along with other landscaping after construction.

The developer must replace each identified tree with an advanced tree, each historically significant tree with an advanced historically significant tree, plant at least 12 additional trees of a species that reach at least 15 metres in height on the western façade to screen the car park, plant four advanced evergreen trees in the specified locations and repurpose the cleared historically significant trees in the building or landscape design.

It must ensure there are no direct impacts to the John Gorton Building underground fuel tank.

The car park will average 256 spaces on levels 1-4, with 1055 car spaces and 16 motorcycle spaces, including 45 car spaces for childcare centre staff, visitors and drop-off, 12 accessible spaces and 16 spaces for electric vehicles.

Traffic lights and pedestrian crossings will be installed at the Blackall Street intersection, as well as a new road entry to the car park and alterations to Kings Avenue, including a left-hand turn onto King Edward Terrace.

Another view of the project looking west from Kings Avenue.

The National Security Precinct will be built on the giant car park opposite the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s RG Casey Building in Barton.

Finance says the Precinct and associated infrastructure will have a number of public and private tenants and is expected to be occupied by a range of Commonwealth agencies including the Office of National Intelligence and parts of DFAT.

Tenants will be confirmed after the completion of detailed planning and functional design work, which is expected in mid-2023.

“The Precinct will provide enhanced public amenities to the wider Barton area and include a mix of retail, hospitality and services that have the potential to be active day and night,” Finance says.

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“The type and number of commercial services will be determined during the future design phase, but is likely to include cafes, restaurants, a gym and some retail.”

About 5000 staff will be calling the precinct home by the end of the decade.

Work on the car park and child care centre is due to start in mid-2023 with completion in late 2024, while construction of the security precinct will commence early in 2025.

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