What kind of density will work along light rail to Woden?

Ian Bushnell 28 July 2021 51
Light rail render

Light rail on Adelaide Avenue. The southern corridor will provide different development challenges from the north. Images: ACT Government.

Development along the light rail route to Woden is likely to include apartments of some kind but not to the same density as on Northbourne Avenue.

Planning Institute of Australia ACT Division Vice-President Imogen Featherstone says the journey to Woden probably requires any new development to be considered in a different context to Northbourne where the tone had already been set by established multi-storey buildings in the approach to the city.

“It’s built form was already established and it was very clear that it would continue in that fashion,” she said.

But the run to Woden will provide different challenges.

“That’s the next thing that the community needs to consider thoughtfully: what is the response that actually makes sense for the people to use it [light rail] but is sympathetic to the national significance within the landscape?”


READ ALSO: Study to identify potential urban infill along light rail Stage 2B


That doesn’t rule out high density at some points because Ms Featherstone argues that there was not much point in having a line to Woden if there aren’t people living along the expensive bit of infrastructure to support it.

But the levels of density and building types will have to be appropriate for their proposed location and environment. That will mean considering the views and vistas that are very much a part of the national capital.

“We need to be mindful of those national significant areas while ensuring we have a city for now and into the future and for future generations,” she said.

Ms Featherstone was responding to news that the ACT Government had contracted a consultant to identify potential urban infill along the route.

The North Curtin Horse Paddocks

The North Curtin Horse Paddocks. The area in pink is now national land, but the unmarked strip next to Yarra Glen is ACT land earmarked for future development as part of the light rail corridor.

She said the Planning Institute supported density that creates a more compact interconnected equitable city – and that meant density connected to hubs and transport routes.

Bad density was putting people where they don’t have access to services, schools, employment opportunities and they became more reliant on their cars, she said.

Ms Featherstone said there was likely to be a mix of building types, including multi-storey apartments, on the ACT-owned horse paddock land on Yarra Glen, given Curtin was closer to the city than other suburbs further out that do have apartments.

But the area should be developed holistically as a precinct so you don’t have, for example, 10 storeys next to a single-level house.

Ms Featherstone said that idea was something the ACT was still grappling with from a planning point of view.

“We’re still coming to identify what is density in this city and what is an appropriate response to density and into the future,” she said.

“We’re all grappling with what that looks like.”


READ MORE: Two city car parks to become light rail compounds next month


The good news is that the urban infill study consultant has been tasked with taking a precinct perspective, rather than block by block, emphasising identifying opportunities for more medium-density housing, the so-called ‘missing middle’.

The study will look at five areas – the North Curtin horse paddocks, West Deakin, the Phillip/Woden Town Centre, Mawson and the rest of the corridor.


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51 Responses to What kind of density will work along light rail to Woden?
Hrvoje Hančević-Grabić Hrvoje Hančević-Grabić 7:35 am 31 Jul 21

So many efforts to justify the tram.

Once suburbs are planned around tram, instead the otherwise, you know that “planning” never took place properly.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:09 am 30 Jul 21

Canberra’s ventures in to light rail have never been about a perspective of improving public transport. It is solely about “urban renewal” which in the case of Stage 1 (slums in Northbourne Avenue) it may have just scraped in as acceptable although replacement (future) slums were quickly built along Flemington Road.

Given that the definition of urban renewal is: “the act of revitalizing a failing urban area in order to restore economic vitality and improve the safety of the area.”, the planned Woden stage has been decided on a totally false premise. In fact it is close to a joint venture between ACT Revenue, building and construction unions and developers.

Finally Relented Finally Relented 8:04 am 30 Jul 21

Don’t forget this will mean traffic lights all the way down Adelaide Ave. So traffic flow gone. Unless they put in overpasses…..lol

    JC JC 1:45 pm 30 Jul 21

    The three stops in Adelaide Ave are planned for intersections that already have under or over passes. So no extra lights required.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:03 pm 30 Jul 21

    Assuming the trams run down the middle and they put platforms under the bridges they will still have to have traffic lights to allow pedestrians to cross to the platforms, from both sides.

    JC JC 8:43 am 31 Jul 21

    No they won’t At all 4 planned stops the roadways the stop will service are either higher or lower than Adelaide Ave. So they will need steps/lift up or down to surrounding roadway.

    Hopeton and Kent streets are down and Carruthers is up relative to the stop.

    And yes the plan is to use the median along Adelaide Ave.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:49 pm 31 Jul 21

    Thanks for following up on that JC. I did think of it as the only alternate way it could be done however the cost and maintenance will be enormous and the inconvenience to people using the trams will be a great disincentive to use the “shiny, new” mode of travel.

    It will just make people want to keep using their cars or stick with the existing bus routes.

Jim Donaldson Jim Donaldson 12:00 am 30 Jul 21

Exactly what we need, a proper discussion about what is appropriate development along this stretch. Get the standards right so it can be done well

    Karen Evans Karen Evans 5:19 pm 31 Jul 21

    Jim except their idea of “discussion” has traditionally been fake and the government then just go ahead with what they had planned in the first place. This government’s idea of consultation if such a sham

    Jim Donaldson Jim Donaldson 10:47 pm 31 Jul 21

    Karen Evans maybe, but I was referring to the the folk reported on in the RiotAct post, which I think is a good thing. Not sure what you expect, but I’m tired of those who just want to oppose any change happening, as many seem to do, yet offer no serious alternative

Valerie Foster Valerie Foster 7:27 pm 29 Jul 21

Going to ruin adelaide avenue now just like they have northbourne avenue.

    Darren Bryant Darren Bryant 7:49 pm 29 Jul 21

    Valerie Foster how has it ruined a previously unused space? There are more plants now than before so it can’t be that

    Valerie Foster Valerie Foster 7:56 pm 29 Jul 21

    Darren Bryant buildings down both sides instead of the open spaces and playing fields which is what is supposed to make Canberra a garden city.

    Jesse Mahoney Jesse Mahoney 7:28 am 30 Jul 21

    Valerie Foster can't be a garden city if you encourage urban sprawl. Have you been to Washington dc? More mid rise apartments, but far more efficient use of spaces for vegetation.

    Valerie Foster Valerie Foster 7:47 am 30 Jul 21

    Jesse Mahoney this is Canberra not Washington and open spaces were in the design. Been here since the seventies and definitely going downhill.

    Jesse Mahoney Jesse Mahoney 11:21 pm 30 Jul 21

    Valerie Foster I agree open spaces are in the design, so if you don't build up you fill those in... Think about it for a second.

    Whether you like it or not, Canberra's population will be where DC is right now in 20-25 years. It has excellent green spaces and more tree cover, through medium and high density design. It's a good model, provided we don't have the traffic problems - which guess what, the tram seeks to mitigate over the long term.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:08 pm 29 Jul 21
Warwick Bradly Warwick Bradly 6:48 pm 29 Jul 21

Adelaide Ave has worked perfectly for many decades. It’s about to get completely screwed up. Lovely open spaces and sports ovals will be cleared and shoddy apartment towers will spring up. All for a $2000m tram section that replaces one leg of the $110m a year bus network. Oh and the bus is twice as fast as the tram. Sigh!

ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 5:40 pm 29 Jul 21

Interesting to see Mawson being examined for development when there are no plans for the tram to go to Mawson.

Colin Vivian Colin Vivian 3:01 pm 29 Jul 21

Let’s be serious, if the tram was about better transport between higher density they would have run it down Constitution Ave where Apartments are already being built, but that wouldn’t have suited Snow’s pet project of filling in the lake, or allowed ACT Government to build on community open spaces. Every square inch of land will be sold to developers who’ll build maximum heights to the edge of the block with no public housing or community spaces.

Corey Karl Corey Karl 3:00 pm 29 Jul 21

The kind that makes the government a lot of revenue

Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 2:42 pm 29 Jul 21

If apartments have to be built along the tram line to make it viable then it’s not needed

    Jason Ezra Jason Ezra 2:50 pm 29 Jul 21

    Jorge Gatica it’s interesting to consider that. In Japan the rail lines deliberately incorporate high density housing and amenities to ensure success during their planning. It’s seems successful there.

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 6:29 pm 29 Jul 21

    Jason Ezra Japan has 6 times the population of Australia jammed packed in a land mass 1/3 larger than Victoria, Australia is much larger than the whole of Europe with a population of 26 million, we don’t have to live jammed packed on top of each other in apartments next to a tram line

Darcy Ryan Darcy Ryan 12:19 pm 29 Jul 21

HTF will it do anything except deepen the debt and do what the buses already do!

Nick Anderson Nick Anderson 12:05 pm 29 Jul 21

As long as the buildings aren’t significantly taller than the estimated tree canopy, it should be fine to fill it with apartments and units. Maybe a mix of affordable and luxury apts?

    Karen Evans Karen Evans 5:18 pm 31 Jul 21

    Nick yes let’s!! Why not aim to fill in every beautiful green space that we all love to use with more apartments 🤢🤢🤢🤢

Steve Ulr Steve Ulr 11:19 am 29 Jul 21

If you have the trees in the picture planted next to the line, the line wont last long.

    Colin Vivian Colin Vivian 2:58 pm 29 Jul 21

    Steve Ulr don’t worry, just like stage 1 the trees are only an artist’s impression to make it look better. In reality all the mature trees will be cut down and it will be all concrete.

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 4:58 pm 29 Jul 21

    Colin Vivian you’ve had your eyes shut along the northborne tram line then?

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 7:44 am 30 Jul 21

    Colin Vivian they’ve plenty of trees……

    Colin Vivian Colin Vivian 8:31 am 30 Jul 21

    Neenie Baines only on the Watson end & as I said, all mature trees were cut down. Are you also happy they’ll sacrifice the beautiful 100 year old trees in front of Albert Hall?

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 7:37 pm 30 Jul 21

    Colin Vivian why would I be happy about trees being cut down in front of Albert hall? The eucalyptus elata on northborn had to go though. They were a hazard, with shallow root systems and unstable in storms. I’m a horticulturist, and don’t like any trees removed. Unfortunately it is sometimes a necessity.

    Colin Vivian Colin Vivian 8:14 pm 30 Jul 21

    Neenie Baines Stage 2 to Woden will mean their removal 😢

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 9:35 pm 30 Jul 21

    Colin Vivian well that’s really sad. But at least the ACT government is proactive in planting trees.

    Colin Vivian Colin Vivian 11:21 pm 30 Jul 21

    Neenie Baines it still feels like we’re losing multiple times more trees than are bring planted 😢

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 9:07 am 31 Jul 21

    Colin Vivian we aren’t though. Million trees initiative is well under way 🙂

Martin Budden Martin Budden 11:06 am 29 Jul 21

How about we don't keep increasing the population indefinitely? It's not sustainable.

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 12:07 pm 29 Jul 21

    But that’s the only way the rich can keep getting richer.

    Jude May Jude May 1:06 pm 29 Jul 21

    Martin Budden sure. Tell people to stop breeding. Worked well for China.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 1:20 pm 29 Jul 21

    Martin Budden and how do you propose to do that ??

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 1:32 pm 29 Jul 21

    Jude May Australians don't breed enough to keep the population stable anyway. The ACT government has a policy to actively encourage extra people into the ACT in order to increase revenue from GST. This policy is unnecessary and unsustainable.

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 1:33 pm 29 Jul 21

    Robert Azzopardi just stop actively encouraging (too many) people moving here.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 1:50 pm 29 Jul 21

    Martin Budden so border restrictions yea .. how about skilled workers ?

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 3:18 pm 29 Jul 21

    Robert Azzopardi how about a stable and balanced population with the right proportions of skilled & unskilled workers?

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 3:26 pm 29 Jul 21

    Martin Budden yes and how do you administer this .. do you issue tickets to people ?

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 5:11 pm 29 Jul 21

    Robert Azzopardi you just stop artificially inflating the population. It'll sort itself out.

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 5:19 pm 29 Jul 21

    Robert Azzopardi

    The ACT's fertility rate is only 1.75 births per woman, well below the 2.1 needed to maintain a steady population. However, government incentives to bring extra people into the city mean that by 2058 an estimated 700,000 people will call the ACT home.

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://apps.treasury.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/1305581/ACT-Population-Projections-Paper-FINAL.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwi6qruO3YfyAhVM4zgGHZKOBEsQFjABegQIAxAG&usg=AOvVaw3V6XQV-7pcu2PgU16IT1vA

Acton Acton 8:58 am 29 Jul 21

“Featherstone argues that there was not much point in having a line to Woden if there aren’t people living along the expensive bit of infrastructure to support it.”
There is not enough demand in Woden to justify a tramline so the ACT Greens/Labor/Geocon/tram consortium plans to remove the trees, the fields, the green spaces and the open views to build more apartments and densify the route so there is enough people to use the tram to justify its cost. Clearly, the purpose of the tramline is not to solve a commuting problem but enrich developers. Winners are the Greens/Labor/GeoCon/tram consortium. Losers are you and me.

g210 g210 8:24 am 29 Jul 21

Let’s see. Fill up the strip with ‘high quality’ 4-6 story residential. Don’t forget some shrubbery around the edges. Chuck in a coffee shop & 7-11 to satisfy commercial. Install a set of traffic lights on Yarra Glen for the light rail stop. Hey and demolish that very car-centric overpass while you’re at it, and maybe pop in another set of lights on the Cotter Road adjacent DunRossil for that Yarralumla development. Done – who needs a consultant.

    Matt G Matt G 9:51 pm 31 Jul 21

    g210: clearly they need a consultant – to route the Tram§ from Civic to Woden via Mawson! Thinking outside the box there – more opportunities to build more boxes, just what we don’t need to accommodate the grossly inflated population we don’t want: and accommodate them like battery hens to maximise profits (to developers and their ‘stakeholders’).

    § – glad to see everyone referring to Trams not LRVs ??

    No doubt once we’ve ruined Adelaide Avenue and Yarra Glen (not to mention the damage North of APH) we will lose the effective and efficient inter-town bus services that actually work.

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