The ACT is splashing $13.9 million in Canberra’s inner north to upgrade lighting, accessibility and parking along streets in Braddon and Dickson.
The first stage of works will begin in February along Lonsdale Street in Braddon between Cooyong and Girrawheen streets, and Woolley Street in Dickson. The works are set to be completed in early 2022.
Widened footpaths leading to the light rail stops, more bike racks for cyclist parking and increased lighting along Haig Park have been flagged by the ACT Government.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the upgrades will create 20 local jobs during the construction and design process over the next 18 months and boost economic activity in the precincts.
“It represents one further practical example about how we are staging construction works and staging recovery works so not everything is falling within the next six months and we do have a pipeline of projects,” he said.
“These particular precincts are older than most other parts of Canberra … this area has been going through a gradual renewal phase over the last 20 years and this investment takes that to the next level.
“They have a strong history, a strong heritage and a really unique character that we seek to enhance through these public realm infrastructure improvements.”
Braddon contained Canberra’s first light-industrial area back in the 1920s and became the centre for car traders before being redeveloped into an entertainment and residential precinct over the last couple of decades.
Some of the buildings go back almost a century to when the suburb was first established.
While the suburb has a rich industrial history and heritage, certain parts are in desperate need of a facelift, Mr Barr said, labelling elements of Lonsdale Street and Woolley Street “tired and outdated”.
“It has a heritage of a mixed-use industrial area … but since about 2008 there has been quite a significant transformation of [Lonsdale Street],” he said.
“It is popular and it works because it is a little more compact, there is activity on both sides of the street, and it is a mix of uses.
“It is what makes this street work, it is why it is unique and it is why it needs investment over the next few years to take it to that next level.”
The move has been welcomed by Braddon businesses, but Kel Watt from Braddon’s United Retailers and Traders (BURT) says community consultation is needed.
“The goal of beautification is welcome, but without practical solutions to infrastructure pressures and well-executed construction strategies, there is a risk some businesses could effectively face a third shutdown in just a few months,” he said.
“No business is placed to survive months of footpath and scaffolding chaos after the massive financial downturns experienced since before Christmas.”
Parking is also a big issue for residents and workers, Mr Watt said.
“Solutions to traffic and parking pressures are vital to ensure Braddon remains a destination for shoppers and diners. People wanting to enjoy Braddon’s excellent bars, cafes and restaurants will become frustrated and stay away, otherwise,” he said.
“With hundreds employed in the hospitality sector, parking should also consider the safety of staff finishing shifts late at night. At the moment many young women and men are forced to walk through Haig Park or nearby dark streets to their car.”
Mr Barr flagged that the Government would be working with the private sector to increase investment in the precincts and make it more friendly for the public – including working with builders to ensure new carparks make it into any development plans.
“Our ACT Government investment will be the catalyst for more private sector investment so it will have a multiplier effect through our economy,” he said.
“As this precinct continues to develop and more people live in and around this area … the complementary investment by the ACT Government in the public land certainty does add to the value of the precinct and its attractiveness for private investment.”