4 August 2023

Woden through road will put cars where there should be people

| Ian Bushnell
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woman on stairs

Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick on the Woden Town Square stairs. In the background is the W2 tower being built. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Does a north-south through road really need to be built at the western end of the CIT project in Woden?

Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick is fighting a dogged and probably doomed campaign to stop it happening, arguing that what’s really needed at the foot of the Town Square stairs is a people-friendly plaza and green space.

She says it needs something that would be a destination where people could gather to dine, enjoy concerts and browse markets.

Pedal Power ACT has also joined the fray, saying a road would be dangerous because of inevitable conflict between cyclists and cars.

READ ALSO Pialligo Estate owner sells Braddon home for $2.35 million

The government says the road is needed to bring the two sides of Woden together because Callam Street will be lost to the new interchange.

It’s envisaged as a shared space with low-speed limits and could even be blocked off for events with bollards.

But anyone who has driven through the area will know that the Easty Street diversion is working well, so why would you want to funnel cars into what will be a pretty congested space between Bowes and Bradley Streets in the heart of Woden?

Who will use this connection and why sever the pedestrian link from the Town Square to the CIT and Interchange?

Beyond these localised questions, there is a general principle to be considered about prioritising people over cars in such places and what that may bring to an area, something the government’s own policies encourage.

It could be argued that as it stands cars should be removed from the Bradley Street dining precinct altogether, and if one looks ahead to the future of Bowes Street when the current surface car park and temporary interchange are developed along with the Hellenic Club, it too could be handed over to people.

There could be a pedestrianised mall from the Bradley Street dining precinct through the CIT plaza and onto Bowes Street, with shade trees, amenities and businesses along the way.

Unless, of course, the government wants residents and workers from the Grand Central Towers and those new buildings to have internal road access.

Ms Carrick has also been fighting a losing battle to keep building heights down around the Town Square and for some green space to be secured.

As another high-rise next to the Lovett Tower rises over the Square, the concrete jungle that nobody says they want seems to be growing in front of them.

READ ALSO Keep cars out of the heart of Woden, say CIT road opponents

For Ms Carrick, the road being foisted on the community is but the latest example of the planning debacle that has left Woden with few community spaces and facilities as site after site falls to developers.

She welcomes development that will enhance the Town Centre but fails to see why some space cannot be left for the people who live and work there, other than the increasingly overshadowed Town Square.

The government appears not for moving on the road but the shared space is likely to leave all users unhappy – drivers will resent the low speed and pesky pedestrians and cyclists, while they will feel at risk contending with a traffic stream they will need to ford to get to and from the interchange.

The government should take another look. There could be a better way.

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Not The Mama9:28 am 13 Aug 23

Woden Town Square is a soul less dreary place void of any attractions. Time to make that right. Keep cars away and give pedestrians unfettered access to a refurbished attractive space where markets and community events can take place.

Maggot Smith6:18 pm 09 Aug 23

Just don’t live in this horrible area. It’s a lifeless wind tunnel.

Woden was designed around the bus interchange with an east west open pedestrian corridor linking it together. Its bizarre to see the road (Callum street) that was designed for the thru traffic be blocked off for a new bus interchange. This means that the cars are pushed into other places, like at the bottom of the grand staircase, that features in the photo with Ms Carrick, which was designed for pedestrians. This, as both Pedal Power and Ms Carrick have pointed out, makes the situation less safe and less pleasant for bike riders and pedestrians. It really disappointing that the changes to Woden could not have preserved the traffic pattern that worked thru the bus interchange.

sisterratched7:18 pm 07 Aug 23

We don’t need a through road there at all. There will be plenty of vehicular access points into the CIT precinct via several existing crossroads (eg Bradley, Bowes and Matilda) for disabled drop-off and pickup. Comparing it to Braddon, where there is already plenty of street life and public amenity, is irrelevant; we have precisely none in Woden, and this road will kill off our last chance for any sort of ‘beating heart’ in Woden. It’s nearly dead as is it, give it some life!

HiddenDragon7:10 pm 07 Aug 23

Woden has this mess thanks to a money-grubbing, tram-obsessed government.

Without the need to accommodate a tram which may never get across the Lake, let alone through the Parliamentary Triangle and on to Woden, there would have been no need to destroy the utility of Callam Street as a north-south thoroughfare for all vehicles – not just buses and police/emergency vehicles.

The bus interchange (which magically became no longer “fit for purpose” – that wonderfully convenient phrase for people with ulterior motives) could have been upgraded in its old location, and the CIT could have been located on the other side of Callam Street – but that would have denied the opportunity to flog off the land on the other side of Callam Street for more apartments.

The other part of this shambles, which is yet to come, will be the swamping of Woden mall parking by CIT staff and students who haven’t bought into the “active”/public transport fantasies of the people responsible for hopelessly under-provisioning parking for the new CIT – again due to ACT government money-grubbing and corner-cutting.

Fiona Carrick7:51 pm 07 Aug 23

Agree, the CIT could also have gone on section 7 (the big car park between the Hellenic Club and Grand Central Towers which is on the market to developers) where it would have had more space and more sun!
Upgrading the bus interchange where it was would have continued the good access into the town centre by public transport.

I am pretty much up to the gills in relation to Community Action Groups that oppose anything. How about you actually support the community and reasonable development.

Fiona Carrick7:16 pm 07 Aug 23

We do support reasonable development, we are up to over 30 residential towers in Woden. People have to live somewhere. However, not all development is good development so we call out poor planning that leads to poor outcomes.
We welcome towers however they have taken over our recreation precinct so now we are advocating for cultural and recreational facilities. If losing community facilities is best practice then I suppose we don’t need recreation facilities in the Inner North or Belconnen either. If it is best practice to put 28 storeys residential towers around your public space (like the zoning around Woden’s town square) then I guess you are advocating for 28 storeys around Garema Place, Margaret Timpson Park and along Emu Bank. We are not advocating for that, there is good and not so good development.
We are simply asking for town planning that balances the need for homes, commercial places for jobs, public spaces and community facilities for the community to gather.

Congratulations to Woden…. welcome to the world of Gungahlin and Belconnen town centres

Fiona Carrick7:26 pm 07 Aug 23

If only we had some of the stuff Belconnen has,
– Emu Bank and a lake with a great art centre (we have never had an arts centre),
– Ginninderra Creek that is natural with public open space around it (we have a concrete drain and zoning for high density housing increasing),
– a huge university with planning for a huge indoor sports stadium, an AIS to upgrade, expansion of the Basketball ACT facility (our basketball stadium was demolished for towers),
– pools (ours was sold to Geocon for towers),
– places identified for outdoor dining and for music (we have neither in our planning, just towers).
I am curious to know what you love about the Woden Town Centre and what you come here for, aside from Westfield and the large clubs?

Is this newly minted and pro-pedestrian Ms Carrick now going to drop her anti-Light Rail stance and welcome traffic calming and intensification along what has become known as the Adelaide Avenue Expressway?

I can sniff an Assembly election campaign (profit centre) in the breeze.

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