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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Push from business for Civic revitalisation

The Canberra Business Chamber’s recently lodged input submission for the ACT Government’s 2019-20 Budget Consultation said that rejuvenating the Canberra City Centre is their highest priority for the ACT.

“The current state of the City Centre is not fit for purpose and could only be described as haphazard at best with pockets of dilapidated and unused infrastructure,” their submission said.

“A vibrant City Centre supports tourism, community engagement, business activity, and is reflective of Canberra’s status as the Nation’s Capital.

“A working City Centre attracts investment, creates job and effectively diversifies the economy whilst simultaneously representing Canberra’s brand to visitors and the local community.

“Whilst we appreciate that the City Renewal Authority has been tasked with facilitating this renewal process, work to date has not resulted in any notable rejuvenation of this space and more needs to be done to fast-track physical construction works to complement the activation initiatives.”

The Chamber’s submission calls on the Government to commit funds to develop a comprehensive long-term infrastructure plan with a minimum 20-year horizon with priority given to a new convention centre, a new theatre complex, a Civic sports stadium, duplication of the Barton Highway, and temporary measures such as expansion of the National Convention Centre banqueting space.

When this year’s budget was handed down in June, Chief Minister Andrew Barr made the Government’s priorities in terms of capital infrastructure projects clear.

“The order for the Government is theatre, stadium and then a convention centre in terms of the big picture over the next five to 10 years,” he said.

$1.2 million was set aside to plan a new complex, while the existing Canberra Theatre Centre was given $1.5 million for a facelift.

The City Renewal Authority’s 2025 Strategic Plan, an overarching document that broadly outlines the vision and five strategic goals of the government entity, and was handed down in October this year.

A number of supportive strategic documents and projects; including the development of a project centred on revitalising the Sydney and Melbourne Building Precinct; a Civic, Arts and Cultural Precinct Plan and the ongoing city centre Precinct Revitalisation Program are currently either being developed by the City Renewal Authority or are underway.

Last month, the City Renewal Authority also announced they were exploring the potential benefits of replacing the current City Bus Interchange with an integrated underground bus interchange.

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