6 January 2020

Weston's $800,000 white elephant a fluro fail

| Ian Bushnell
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The upgraded Trenerry Square in Weston is not what the community asked for. Photos: Ian Bushnell

It cost more than $800,000, it’s not what the community wanted and nobody uses it. Welcome to Weston’s Trenerry Square, featuring fluro orange and yellow metal seats, concrete borders, some industrial shade structures and, thankfully, a patch of turf.

The idea was a good one – to upgrade Trenerry Square on Brierly Street opposite Cooleman Court but the execution has left the locals nonplussed.

Weston Creek Community Council president Tom Anderson says a combination of unsociable design and poor choice of materials had made the square, completed in March 2018, an uninviting place to be.

He said the metal seats needed a covering so they were not either burning your bottom off or freezing it for more than six months of the year, and they needed to be closer together.

“There’s not a table in there, there’s not two seats close enough together where you can actually have a conversation,” he said. “A mother and two children can’t go and sit there at a table and have morning tea, or lunch.”

The company behind the project, Redbox Design, says on its website that “the refreshed plaza has a unique and contemporary feel created by an arrangement of interesting elements that enhance user experience and inject much-desired vitality into the place.”

Except, according to Mr Anderson, ”it’s a space that is rarely used by anyone.”

Mr Anderson said the council spoke to City Services in June about ways to improve it but had not heard anything since.

While there was initial consultation when the project was first mooted, he said it took six months to get officials to come back to discuss the final design and when they did it was a fait accomplis.

“They came along to a public meeting and said we’ve signed the contract today, prior to any further feedback about what it was going to be like,” he said.

“We’ve got what we’ve got because that was what was decided by City Services, and it’s just not really usable.”

But Mr Anderson said his advice was that it could be improved without much extra cost.

“The infrastructure is there and you can fiddle around with it and make it much better,” he said.

But it will also need more protection from the wind, mainly the westerly, to make it more hospitable.

Mr Anderson said the temporary furniture in Woden Square was a much better outcome than this.

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Ciara Sheehan3:29 pm 10 Jan 20

Why didn’t they fix the roads around Coolo instead of making this ugly area??

ChrisinTurner11:57 am 10 Jan 20

Does not seem to have any shade trees. Typical lack of effective consultation. When will the ACT government learn that consultation is more that just telling people what they are going to get.

$800K somebody is making tremendous profit. ACT gov got con!!!

Yep, pretty well useless. The money would have been much better spent on the tired old playground on the opposite side of Coolo.

“the refreshed plaza has a unique and contemporary feel created by an arrangement of interesting elements that enhance user experience and inject much-desired vitality into the place.” How many times have we read that drivel. My bet is they’d use the same boilerplate rubbish for a safe injecting room. Come to think of it …

Look on the bright side! Several hundred thousand dollars cheaper than Andrew Barr’s Container Village -and no broke businesses involved.

Someonesmother6:41 pm 08 Jan 20

What an ugly looking bomb site. There is nothing that would even slightly recommend it as a place to sit and relax. Hot, harsh and looks like a licorice allsort. Not sure anyone would use it apart from skateboarders challenging themsleves on it.

Remember Weston’s $800,000 white elephant at the next election.
Then we can all let the ACT Labor Government know what we think of them.
They treat us with the contempt we will show them.

I certainly will. And the 2 liberals absolute silence on this issue.

Yes, Trenerry Square has failed to deliver any social amenity. The Suburban Land Agency obviously didn’t register this lack of use and negative response to Trenerry Square when it engaged the same company, Redbox Design, to design a controversial new play space in Edgeworth Parade Coombs. Let’s hope Redbox Design and the SLA have learnt some lessons and produce a design that doesn’t just look good on paper to designers but works in reality for kids and families. The last thing Coombs needs is a white elephant playground. The suburb already has a white elephant shopping centre.

Follow the money to approval from the Greens

Fair comments.

I’ve been there many times and I’d agree. It looks like it was designed by a kid, bright and pretty, but functionally very poor.

Perhaps it was designed by a work experience school student.

Or perhaps it was designed exactly to a specification such as: Make it pretty and give the appearance that facilities are being provided, but don’t actually make it useful in case it attracts undesirables.

Another shocker in the ACT Government outer suburban efforts.

The million dollars for Erindale bus station was one that got me. New generic glass bus stop, a mural that seemed painted by an unskilled robot and a 1 foot wider road segment. What happened to the remaining $950,000.

Then I saw the Anktel St upgrade near the Hyperdome. Some tender responder must have laughed all the way to the bank when he delivered that terrible space monstrosity a few months ago.

The ACT Government couldn’t get value for money at a $2 shop.

HiddenDragon7:05 pm 07 Jan 20

Looks truly stark – which reminds me of these very pertinent comments from the ACT Council of Social Service a few weeks ago –

“ACTCOSS would expect that next year’s ACT Budget and the coming Territory Plan review will prioritise investments and planning responses for adequate community facilities and social infrastructure where people can find refuge in public spaces during heatwaves without being expected to spend money or asked to move on.”


ACT Government officials have been on radio and local TV constantly telling residents they can escape the heat and smoke at an ACT Library.

The Erindale and Tuggeranong libraries were closed to the public last week because the ACT Government hadn’t given them enough money to adequately maintain or upgrade their air conditioning and filtration systems.

Good work guys, another case of getting your funding priorities right. Plenty of Government money for facilities at Mr Barr’s local shops however.

Capital Retro3:17 pm 07 Jan 20

It is sure to win countless awards for architectural excellence.

The look is a shocker too.

Typical of the ACT Government in so many suburbs. Their idea of consultation is to tell the community what has been decided for them, print glossy self-congratulatory brochures and ignore feedback as to what people really needed and wanted. Instead, pay consultants and spin merchants lucrative fees to reinterpret the ugly, unused construction as: “The refreshed plaza has a unique and contemporary feel created by an arrangement of interesting elements that enhance user experience and inject much desired vitality into the place.”

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