30 March 2023

Transport hub and new station at heart of multi-storey East Lake in draft Place Plan

| Ian Bushnell
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East Lake aerial view

The East Lake project aims to revitalise a neglected area of the Inner South. Photo: ACT Government.

A precinct based on a multi-modal transport hub, including a relocated Canberra railway station, is seen as the heart of the proposed renewal of the East Lake area in the Inner South.

The draft East Lake Place Plan, now out for consultation, also envisages new medium-density housing up to eight storeys with an emphasis on mixed uses, a new street network including the strengthening of the original Griffin axis, and the remediation of the current landfill area for recreational use and possible later development.

The draft place plan does not say what kind of population the area could support, but previous work has indicated 9000 people could eventually make East Lake their home, while 3000 would work there.

SGS Economics and Planning was hired last year to analyse current and future population projections for East Lake.

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The ACT Government intends to release land between the railway corridor and Jerrabomberra Wetlands, with an initial target of 650 residential dwellings in 2025-26.

The draft place plan divides East Lake into four distinct areas – the Railway Precinct, Mildura Street Precinct, the Landfill area and The Causeway.

The Railway Precinct’s transport hub would include a mix of commercial, residential and public buildings mostly ranging from four to six storeys but with eight-storey marker developments in strategic locations.

The northern edge would mainly rise four storeys to blend with The Causeway, but there would be six-storey buildings on corners or larger public spaces and primary streets.

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Like the rest of East Lake, the precinct would feature cycleways, pedestrian-friendly streets and plazas to promote active travel, as well as options for future light rail to use the existing rail corridor and infrastructure or a parallel link with the street layout.

The rail museum would also be co-located with the new station.

artist's impression of rail lines

An artist’s impression of parallel light and heavy rail lines in East lake. Image: PTCBR/circe.

The plan indicates the Railway Precinct would be a longer-term stage of the East Lake project but Public Transport Association of Canberra Chair Ryan Hemsley urged the government not to delay.

“The government has set out a bold, transport-oriented vision for East Lake. The risk is that it collects dust on the shelf like all the previous plans done for the area over the past 20 years,” he said.

“If there is a plan to consolidate the railway station and museum next to The Causeway, with a light rail corridor running next to it through Fyshwick to Queanbeyan, then let’s actually get on with it.

“Let’s amend the Territory Plan, the National Capital Plan, and work with the NSW Government to lock in those corridors and the land uses needed to support them.

“This is a great plan, but a great plan is only as good as the will to implement it.”

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New housing in The Causeway, including public housing, would range from two to three storeys around the Causeway Hall which would become a community hub of a mini-precinct including a revamped Visitor and Cultural Centre and Cargill’s Cottage and a new children’s play area.

Further out, density would increase to four storeys with six storeys on the corners.

“The Causeway vision presents opportunities for being reimagined as the grand avenue,” the draft plan says

Mildura Street is seen as the business, education and services hub with industrial zones retained but adds residential uses to the area as part of the overall mixed-use theme.

But there would be residential buffer zones to separate residents from the light industrial, technology and business enterprises they would co-exist with.

New development would include student accommodation, serviced accommodation and innovative start-ups as part of a bid to integrate the Fyshwick CIT into the area.

Buildings would generally be six storeys, with four storeys towards the light industrial area.

The Landfill area would include a fenced dog park along the western edge and possibly be the site for a future school and playing field.

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Planning Minister Mick Gentleman said an underutilised area of the inner south could be transformed into a place with a thriving community.

“It will be a celebration of its history, people, the environment, and its special connection to the adjacent Jerrabomberra Wetlands,” he said.

Mr Gentleman said it would also offer diverse housing choices, particularly in The Causeway area.

Consultation is open until 18 May.

To learn more, take a survey and make a submission, visit the YourSay Conversations page.

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Gregg Heldon7:39 am 01 Apr 23

It is an area that should have been redeveloped by now. The train station could and should be a major transport hub with light rail and buses, both local, regional and interstate hub all going through and leaving from there. Along with the yrain station getting a makeover. Shopping and schools, ovals and other community facilities turning it into a proper, old fashioned suburb. Link Newcastle Street to The Causeway like it used to show in all the old maps. You could extend the Dairy Flat project then too.
When urban infill was discussed all those decades ago, I thought the Eastlake/The Causeway precinct would have been the first area to have been tackled.
But, like with every infrastructure project or proposal here in Canberra, it seems to take forever and a day to get to the next stage.
2B of light rail needs to be Civic to the Airport and then to the train station and up Wentworth Ave and Brisbane Ave to State Circle. That would value add to this and Dairy Flat, to boost tourism and make it more palpable to Federal Pollies to invest to light rail.

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