The Manuka Green proposed development continues with more ducking and weaving than a prize fighter.
What began as 1000 apartments has been cut to 650, nine storey units down to seven, basement car parking increased to 1620 spaces and total costs have fallen from $800 million to $550 million.
A number of physical changes to the plans also have been listed to what was and still is an unsolicited bid to the ACT Government offering to upgrade iconic Manuka Oval.
The changes to the original plan are considerable and one wonders if the first announcement was an ambit claim or whether the angry reaction of the Canberra community (including a public meeting of 350 people) to an interstate makeover didn’t force a rethink by the Giants and Grocon.
The ACT Government was quick to distance itself from actual development until at least 2019 after our first international cricket Test. Doubtless the 2016 October ACT Assembly election influenced the decision, although 2019 puts it close to the 2020 campaign. Charybdis and Scylla perhaps?
There are dark hints about Stage One of the unsolicited bid process being passed but it is difficult to see how the next two stages and the required variation to the Territory Plan should be achieved quickly given the government’s three year delay commitment.
Why distance yourself then risk destroying this advantage by ticking off all the development boxes so far in advance? The Giants/Grocon in answer to the obvious states the timing for construction is yet to be determined.
Reading through answers to FAQs on the Manuka Green website is unimpressive.
That the new development is to “enhance visitors and player experience” doesn’t do anything for the locals, while attracting more elite sporting events to Canberra surely would only be successful if they could use the oval. Improving the local amenity through landscaped green spaces and (shudder) public art is nothing new here and the integration of Manuka shops and the Kingston foreshores is open to doubt.
How many footy fans are going shopping in local boutiques and dining in the neighbourhood’s fine restaurants? Do we need more cafes and takeaways? The answers also do not address a crucial question still not covered: car parking for the visitors to the oval.
Prime among the benefits of Manuka Green, according to the website, is the old standby of a boost to the ACT economy through investment, jobs and tourism.
Surely these advantages would accrue wherever a new stadium or oval was built? Bruce Stadium was sold on much the same spin and it doesn’t sit in inner Canberra.
If we need another oval we should build it at, say, Symonston or another greenfields site on the edge of town. The punters would still come, investment, jobs and tourism would still occur (providing our teams kept winning!).
I’m loath to promote major expenditure we can’t afford but it would be preferable to the destruction of the village green beside Canberra Avenue.
If it stacks up GWS/Grocon should move the proposal to elsewhere in the ACT.