18 August 2022

'Use it or lose it': New Russian embassy site's Yarralumla lease terminated

| Claire Fenwicke
Join the conversation
12
Land in Yarralumla

Building works were approved for the new Russian embassy on 23 September 2011, but it appears to have stalled. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

The National Capital Authority (NCA) has terminated the Russian Federation’s lease on a block of land flagged for its new embassy.

The lease was originally granted in December 2008, with the works and building approvals approved on 31 March 2011 and 23 September 2011, respectively.

A statement from the NCA stated the Russian Federation had agreed to finish construction within three years.

“Despite some efforts to progress an embassy, completion of the project has not occurred,” it said.

The NCA said the decision was based on the “absence of a commitment to a completion date” following years of consultation and discussions with Russian representatives.

READ ALSO Inflation wipes out APS staff’s 2021 catch-up, double pay rises

The planning authority managed the diplomatic precinct in Canberra and chief executive Sally Barnes said the leased land was a “premium site”.

“Ongoing unfinished works detract from the overall aesthetic, importance and dignity of the area reserved for diplomatic missions and foreign representation in the National Capital,” she said.

“With limited blocks currently available for diplomatic purposes, unless a country can demonstrate a willingness and ability to develop the site, the NCA supports a policy of ‘use it or lose it’.

“While initial works have commenced, the block in question has been sitting as a building site with unfinished construction for many years now.”

The policy was a recommendation in a 2013 report Estate for the Future by the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories, which investigated the allocation of land to diplomatic missions in the ACT.

Vacant land in Yarralumla

The new Russian Embassy was set to be built off Adelaide Avenue in Yarralumla. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

The Russian Federation has 20 days from the serving of the notice of termination to clear the site.

The NCA will return the site to the pool of land available for diplomatic purposes once it has been cleared.

The organisation said the decision to terminate the lease for the new embassy did not affect the existing Russian Embassy, and the Russian Federation could submit a new application for the land in the future.

Join the conversation

12
All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Latest
William Harris1:18 pm 23 Aug 22

Funny, this isn’t the governments approach to Giralang shops, sitting unused for over a decade!

Good on them for sticking it to Russia at least.

Peter Graves9:43 pm 19 Aug 22

The Ukraine Ambassador must be reading these posts:
“Ukrainian ambassador, who is currently touring Australia to look at defence supplies, says his government will formally apply for Yarralumla site”
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/aug/19/ukraine-eyeing-embassy-land-after-canberra-authority-terminates-russias-lease

A strange decision by the NCA because the new Russian embassy building on this site already has its walls built, all windows in and has reached lockup stage.
Ukrainians take note – those large tempting glass windows are within easy egg throwing distance from the road.

The Russians can quite correctly claim that they have been singled out. There are many of these diplomatic sites that have not been built on, and they should all be resumed as well.

NCA needs to be consistent with applying these rules.

Peter Graves2:48 pm 18 Aug 22

You really should first consider the implications of those photos. The Russians had the site for ten years and had some sort of agreement to complete it in 3 years. They began building on it about 5 years ago – in fits and starts. With the encircling fencing being the only completed construction. There is and has been currently no sign of any building activity.

Other countries sites that are empty plots of land – more importantly, with no construction started – are another matter completely. Have a look at the proposed Kuwait site, next to the Botswana High Commission in Deakin.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.