Canberra Planning

The Good and loads of the Bad and Ugly

nishi-P1040110The Property Council has issued another one of their occasional gems about planning and development here in Canberra. This one is titled: Transforming Canberra’s CBD.  Sometimes you are not sure whether to laugh or cry when you read these documents.


As is usual, the property lobbyists’ documents contains demands for government assistance for the property sector while recommending cuts in various related fees and taxes and other government revenue raising measures. I am sure that makes sense to somebody!

Not surprisingly they completely ignore the elephant (or is it a mammoth) in the corner, being the gigantic mall that is the Canberra Centre. This centre now occupies a large part of the CBD. In most cities and towns these box retail centres are usually on the side of the main centre. Not so here in Canberra!

Where once Canberra had an open plaza in Civic that was a vibrant shopping precinct. Since the arrival of the Canberra Centre expansions, there has been a downward trend with loads of small businesses struggling and many shops left vacant for long periods of time.

The Property Council’s report is seriously flawed by not having addressed the problems caused by the growth of the Canberra Centre and how this has mauled the businesses in the surrounding plaza areas.

This being the 21st Century, one would have hoped for a mature leadership approach and for the Property Council to demonstrate some environmental responsibility. So as I opened the document I put in a search for key words. Alas there is not a mention of essentials such as climate change adaptation measures, solar or any wise use of water.

The Property Council has used outdated and clichéd Melbourne graphics throughout their document. Sadly these tired graphics simply enhance the report’s lack of originality and innovative ideas.

Canberra’s CBD needs some new ideas and an innovative approach to bring it back to life. The presence of the Canberra Centre must be addressed. This latest document from the Property Council is a lost opportunity to offer serious contributions.

Meanwhile there are other group centres and local shopping precinct that are due for refurbishment. The lesson taken from reading this document is that we need to keep this style of thinking away from the future of other commercial centres.

There are many battles ahead for residents as they strive to keep such shallow concepts from doing damage to the wonderful ambiance of business centres such as the Dickson shops.

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A short version of this was used a letter to the editor in the Canberra Times 31 March 2015.

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Paul Costigan

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