West Basin to be a garden city precinct by the water, says new plan

Ian Bushnell 11 August 2020 19
West Basin

A view of West Basin from Commonwealth Park. Photo: ACT Government.

A clearer picture of the proposed Acton waterfront redevelopment at West Basin is emerging after the release today of the ACT Government’s precinct place plan, although there is very little mention of the main area of contention, the planned apartment blocks that will pay for it.

The Acton Waterfront Place Plan outlines the look and feel of the precinct, primarily its public spaces, which will form the next three to four years of work on the project.

It is the result of public consultation with key stakeholders, including two place plan workshops.

As well as the look and feel, it also defines how the precinct will be experienced by people.

The plan describes a unified and coherent precinct that includes public parks and open spaces supported by amenities and activities so it can function as a community, as well as a recreational area for the broader community.

It details a contemporary garden city area with 30 per cent tree cover, dining areas, stores and community facilities, and a ”strong and formal built edge” along Commonwealth Avenue, which is as close as it gets to acknowledging where the area’s residents will live.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that in further stages of the project there will be a low-rise, mixed-use precinct of small scale commercial, cultural and residential buildings.

”This mixed-use precinct is a few years away and will be built over several years in accordance with the National Capital Plan requirements. These requirements include being set back from the lake edge, being of low density and low height,” he said.

Last week Mr Barr said that the apartments would number in their hundreds, not the 2000 originally suggested.

One of the concerns about building apartments at West Basin has been that they will block heritage views and the plan talks about significant view corridors along Commonwealth Avenue to West Basin/Lake Burley Griffin, and an urban structure that frames views along streets through and to the lake from the city centre and Commonwealth Avenue.

The plan envisages better connections to the existing city centre including innovative ways to bridge Parkes Way.

It suggests a land bridge or shared path bridge over Parkes Way for pedestrians and cyclists, and a slip lane/tunnel from Commonwealth Avenue to Parkes Way west to prevent high volumes of non-local traffic passing through Acton Waterfront.

It proposes boosting water transport with ferry landings near Henry Rolland Park to link the light rail stop, Acton Waterfront and the National Museum of Australia.

The next stage of development, being assessed by the National Capital Authority, will reclaim 2.8 ha of lake bed and extend the boardwalk 500 metres, part of the plan’s continuous waterfront along which there will be a segregated cycleway.

The filled-in area will need to settle for a few years before any further development can take place.

The plan envisages an integrated precinct of destinations with a green heart, indoor and outdoor community spaces and active streets and lanes.

West Basin development

The drawing shows the next stage of development – the redefined lake edge and extended boardwalk and parkland. Residential development will take place along Commonwealth Avenue, currently surface car parks. Image: ACT Government.

The key feature will be 40,000 square metre lakeside public park.

City Renewal Authority chief executive Malcolm Snow said Acton Waterfront was an unmatched opportunity to give Canberra safe and attractive connections between its city centre and the lake.

“For too long Canberra’s city centre has turned its back to the water. Acton Waterfront will turn the city around to embrace its best landscape feature,” he said.

“By implementing this place plan, Acton Waterfront will be a place for all Canberrans to enjoy the lake in the way that its original designers always intended.

“The creation of high-quality public spaces and connections to the city centre will also provide a missing link to the world-class national institutions on the Acton Peninsula, such as the National Museum of Australia.”

National Museum of Australia director Dr Mathew Trinca said the Acton Waterfront Place Plan complemented the National Museum’s own Master Plan.

“The creation of an attractive and accessible new public space at the Acton Waterfront is critical to addressing the missing connections between the city centre, the lake and the national institutions on the Acton Peninsula,” Dr Trinca said.

“The principles and themes in the place plan describe an exciting vision for this precinct as a destination where people can experience Lake Burley Griffin in ways they haven’t been able to do previously.”

Critics have condemned the reengineering of West Basin as a privatisation of the waterfront and a missed opportunity for a public space of world standard.


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19 Responses to West Basin to be a garden city precinct by the water, says new plan
Nick Swain Nick Swain 5:39 pm 13 Aug 20

Cannot see what is planned for the important memorial to NCDC planner Grenfell Rudduck which is located roughly between the old ferry terminal and where the bike hire place was. Will this be another ACT memorial discarded to make way for development?

Queanbeyanite Queanbeyanite 4:57 pm 13 Aug 20

Plenty of room for a helipad and hanger for half a dozen nearby. Lots of blockies towards Braidwood and Yass are only 15 minutes away.

Why would you commute for over an hour to work in the city when you could enjoy the peace and quiet in the countryside most of the week and pop over in your Robinson R66 or MD 500 for any face to face meetings.

Colin Vivian Colin Vivian 3:31 pm 13 Aug 20

Article rather gives the game away “filled-in area will need to settle for a few years before any further development can take place.” Just like Kingston Foreshores all the originally promised green space will gradually disappear.

Margaret Welsh Margaret Welsh 6:04 am 12 Aug 20

Please leave our foreshores alone. They are what makes Canberra beautiful.

russianafroman russianafroman 10:43 pm 11 Aug 20

Yay! Let’s keep the pork-barrelling going! I recommend a couple new duplications up north, maybe some new sporting facilities, you could even give away one thousand to each person registered to vote in the ACT.

Shayne Borger Shayne Borger 8:06 pm 11 Aug 20

Need to be useful for all not the city dwellers. Its a Canberra asset, make it useful but dont make it another foreshore, keep it public space not housing. Its been recreational use and needs to keep that

Nick Savino Nick Savino 6:47 pm 11 Aug 20

When you have a family of 4 why would u catch the bus 🚌 most want convenience of cat

bj_ACT bj_ACT 4:57 pm 11 Aug 20

I don’t get the broader plan for this at all.

We have a 250,000 sqm Commonwealth Park less than 500m away that is under-utilised. What’s another park going to bring to the city. I’d rather see Glebe park become better utilised.

Also, Either have no one living in the proposed precinct or house plenty of people in apartments. Don’t go the half way route and build low rise developments for a lucky few.

I think the West Basin zone needs to be left alone until a better designed area is planned by world class architects not whiteboard ideas from second class city renewal project executives and their political masters.

You only get one chance to get Canberra’s Prime Lake front zone right. You don’t want to repeat failures like Barcelona’s Diagonal Del Mar or others where they are now trying to tear down failed developments that are less than 40 years old.

    JS9 JS9 9:18 pm 11 Aug 20

    Feels like a crap halfway house to try and appease the ‘guardians’ from the Coast and whatever other rabbit warrens they live in.

    Run a design contest to get as you say a truly well designed renewal project happening. We’ve done it before in the city, why not do it again.

Annette Milnes Annette Milnes 2:02 pm 11 Aug 20

How are you going to park for Floriade or for a picnic etc.?

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 4:50 pm 11 Aug 20

    Bus, cycle, walk, with hopefully enough handicapped parking for those who really need it. There's a convenient bus stop on Commonwealth Avenue. Only a short walk from there.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 5:01 pm 11 Aug 20

    Annette Milnes You should be able to carry it all if you pack it properly. I once brought two dinner sets home on the bus, and a picnic set weights less than that. If there's several people spread the load around. Catch public transport the whole way. Make it part of the fun adventure. If you don't catch buses very often it will be fun; rather as I find it a fun adventure to catch trains in Sydney, even if my last trip there was two hours travel, one way. (Won't be doing that again until NSW gets rid of covid.) It's a main, frequent bus route along Commonwealth Avenue.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 6:50 pm 11 Aug 20

    Annette Milnes Don't use buses in peak hour. If you want parking, there are plenty of other nice places to have your picnic. Not every area needs to have acres of parking, especially when public transport is so close.

    Mat Barber Mat Barber 12:09 am 12 Aug 20

    Catch the light rail to the stop on Commonwealth Avenue? This will most likely be built before the apartments are even commenced here.

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 4:29 am 12 Aug 20

    Drive in there and park right on the flower bed. It's OK so long as only one of us do it.

    Annette Milnes Annette Milnes 7:00 am 12 Aug 20

    We should design community places that are inclusive for all. There are people families, single parents who can't manage prams, swimming gear, food and needed supplies with a couple of toddlers on public transport, the elderly, the sick maybe with cancer, the people who want to ride their bikes but not lug them from the outer suburbs, all these people could think this space is not for them. Our community spaces should be for all. Provide a public carpark underneath the proposed apartments like all great cities would.

    George Watling George Watling 10:39 am 12 Aug 20

    Annette Milnes I agree the 'cult of public transport and limiting the use of cars in Canberra' doesn't take into account the weather, infirmity, illness, or practicalities like time and the need to transport goods, groceries, strollers, picnic paraphernalia, visit multiple locations in a single trip, or get hot takeaway home before it get cold. Every thing can be done with a backpack and bus timetable.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:19 am 12 Aug 20

    George Watling I live in the south, but the light rail is a useful way to get to Gungahlin after catching a bus to Civic. I have done so; however admittedly I don't visit Gungahlin often. The light rail is there as part of the overall system. Not everyone uses the whole network, whether that be buses or light rail. I could complain about having to pay for buses in Belconnen for instance, as I don't use them, but I won't, as they are part of the network and someone will use them. Having been on buses caught in traffic and the bus hardly moving, I appreciate the light rail. Also having lost my old bus route, I appreciate the less flexibility of light rail, as that is less likely to be suddenly taken away than a bus.

    Annette Milnes Annette Milnes 4:20 pm 13 Aug 20

    As I mentioned before handicapped people are only a small proportion of the people who will have trouble with public transport, include a public car park under the buildings in the plan.

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