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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Community hold concerns over Woden CIT project

The Woden Valley Community Council (WVCC) have called on the ACT Government to ensure accessibility throughout the town centre as plans for the $300 million development of a new CIT campus and transport interchange forge ahead.

A new flagship CIT facility, public transport interchange and a multi-bed Youth Foyer will all be built along Callam Street in Woden over the next four years at the site of the existing Woden bus interchange.

The WVCC, while welcoming the project, believe there are “much better sites available” for the CIT facility rather than the proposed location – to the south and east of Geocon’s 18- and 26-storey dual building Grand Central Towers development.

WVCC President Jenny Stewart told Canberra Weekly they also want to ensure the new transport interchange and the CIT are adequately connected with the rest of the town centre, retaining and strengthening the east-west corridor across Woden.

“All we’ve got at the moment is a series of artist impressions and they don’t look particularly realistic to me,” Ms Stewart said.

“We’d be wanting to see much more specific ideas about the bus interchange and how it will work … With planning, the devil is truly in the detail; until we get that it’s hard to know what we’re talking about.

“No one would object to the current interchange being superseded … We’d hope there will be real community consultation about the redevelopment about the bus interchange, not just token community consultation which was all we got in relation to the new CIT.”

Ms Stewart also raised concerns over parking regarding the new CIT campus, given it will bring thousands of people to Woden once operational.

ACT Minister for Tertiary Education, Chris Steel, said the major infrastructure spend will establish a “well-lit pedestrian boulevard connecting the interchange, CIT campus, the square and Westfield”.

With the price tag on these works totalling $250-300 million, construction is expected to create at least 520 jobs and will commence on the public transport interchange mid-2021, and on CIT Woden in 2022.

The ACT Government will now go through the planning approvals process, with students due to begin studying at the new campus at the start of the 2025 academic year.

The new CIT Woden campus will support up to 6,500 students annually and inject life into the tired town centre.

An on-campus multi-bed Youth Foyer will also be delivered as part of the project, providing integrated learning, accommodation and support for young people at risk of homelessness.

The ageing Woden bus interchange will be replaced with a new interchange that will feature more bus stops, bus layovers supporting future increases in services, and a new Light Rail station platform.

With numerous private developments and major infrastructure projects in Woden all either currently under construction or in the planning phase, the town centre is set to transform significantly over the next five to 10 years.

“Woden is at a tipping point; if the government continue to make mistakes the situation will be irretrievable,” Ms Stewart said.

“The town centre proper is a very constrained area and it really needs to be thought about as a whole.”

Ms Stewart called on the ACT Government to update the 2015 Woden Town Centre Master Plan with thorough community consultation to provide clarity moving forward.

“At the moment we have an outdated masterplan and precinct code which govern building heights and not much else,” she said.

“It’s been left to developers and they’re not really supposed to be in charge of town planning.

“There is a need for a revised master plan to be done in our view or at least something that allocates different types of development to different parts of the town centre and specifies locations for open spaces and community facilities.”

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