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.
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.
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.