A $4 million facelift for Braddon’s Lonsdale Street will see 25 car parks along the median strip removed while safety improvements for pedestrians, new furniture, intersection upgrades and a host of landscaping works are undertaken.
With Lonsdale Street having undergone an almost unrecognisable transformation over the past 15 years from a semi-industrial precinct to a residential/commercial high steet, these streetscape works see the ACT Government bring public amenity up to scratch with the area’s contemporary use.
The design features intended to improve pedestrian safety include upgrading the intersection with Girrahween Street, renewed verges at the Cooyong Street intersection, and two landscaped, mid-block zebra crossings between these intersections and Elouera Street.
Low plantings in the medians will improve visibility of pedestrians and cyclists using the paths and road.
The designs are currently available for public consultation, with construction expected to commence early 2022.
A City Renewal Authority spokesperson said the removal of the car spaces on Lonsdale Street will allow for the new mid-block crossings and Girrahween Street crossing to “support safer pedestrian movements for tens of thousands of people throughout the year”.
“These crossings will make verge areas significantly more useable for outdoor dining and improve exposure for local businesses as people will be able to cross more easily between both sides of the street,” they said.
“The current centre road parking acts as a significant physical and visual barrier to this movement.”
Braddon’s United Retailers & Traders (BURT) spokesperson Kel Watt told Canberra Weekly the broader benefits of the upgrade works will outweigh the impact of losing 25 street parks.
“The 25 car park losses are going to be frustrating for some businesses, but probably welcomed by others,” he said.
Currently there are 155 car spaces along Lonsdale Street, meaning the 25 car parks set to be removed equates to around 16% of the street’s parking stock.
There are a further 293 car spaces within a 2-3 minute walk of Lonsdale Street, making a total of 448 parking spaces in the Braddon mixed-use precinct.
Mr Watt said he’s pleased by the level of strategic thought put into the proposed upgrade works.
“It’s not just about sticking in a couple of pedestrian crossings or throwing a picnic table in for the sake of it,” he said, “It’s about attracting more people because they’ll regard it as more pedestrian friendly and more family friendly.
“The loss of parking spaces appears to be a concern … But businesses will do well if there’s more people in the area for more time spending more money, and the thought process behind this plan is designed to deliver that.”
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced beautification works for both Braddon and Dickson in June last year. At the time, $13.9 million was put aside for the works with $9.6 million specifically designated to Lonsdale Street.
Construction was then signalled to commence in February of this year, however the design documents were just released at the end of last month.
“We’re now obviously post-Easter, still emerging out of COVID restrictions, but the $9.6 million has been dropped to $4 million, so there’s a great sense of frustration and annoyance around that,” Mr Watt said.
“We’re very happy to get the four (million), but some of the beautification and real rejuvenation work that could have been done with another $5.6 million is obviously attractive and a missed opportunity.”
Canberra Liberals Leader and MLA for Kurrajong, Elizabeth Lee, expressed concern in the reduction of car parking along Lonsdale Street.
“Local businesses and customers have told us repeatedly that parking on Lonsdale Street is already difficult as it is,” said Ms Lee.
“Any plans to upgrade the area must ensure there are parking options available and must include genuine consultation with local traders.”
The City Renewal Authority said they meet with representatives of local traders and property owners regularly and will review the designs considering all the feedback received.
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