As you all know, Belconnen is my home and it has my heart. When I’m not blogging or working, I’m advocating for Belconnen as Chair of the Belconnen Community Council.
Over the last 18 months, we’ve worked hard a range of community consultations into the update of the Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan, like hosting a free barbecue at the Belconnen Arts Centre. Master Plans are important because they set out the future character of the area – what things might be developed, what it could or should look like, and what areas should be preserved.
Today the draft update to the Master Plan was released. It includes a whole lot of things that the BCC, I and the community have been advocating for to make the Belconnen Town Centre an even better play to live, work and play, including:
- clarity about height limits in the Town Centre (proposing different heights for different sites, and providing for both high- and medium-density)
- activating the previously abandoned Joynton Smith busway and turning it into a cycleway to better connect the Town Centre to Florey
- increasing and widening paths in the Town Centre so it’s easier for cyclists and pedestrians to get around; joining the path around Lake Ginninderra behind the Belconnen Arts Centre so it’s completely connected
- expanding the 40km/h zones so that it’s safer for pedestrians and cyclists to move around, and replacing plastic speed humps with build-outs and raised pedestrian crossings
- providing a multi-storey car park in a place that’s central to encourage activity – ie park your car and then walk around the Town Centre, such as to Emu Bank. This could free up key areas which could be used for entertainment (like on Emu Bank) and also provides an alternative for commuters instead of activity like driving from the Belconnen Markets to Westfield to Emu Bank to John Knight Memorial Park – and may also free up existing car spaces elsewhere
- preserving the Diddams Close peninsula and considering ways to activate these open spaces, such as community gardens or concerts
- activating Margaret Timpson Park with play areas (including water play), a legal graffiti wall and barbecue facilities
- proposing stricter rules around building design to ensure high quality
- linking the Town Centre to the University of Canberra
- providing a destination at Emu Bank with more outdoor dining, increased walking areas and – potentially – fewer car parks taking up important lake views
There are also sections in the Master Plan which will require careful community consideration. These include the proposal for different height limits in different parts of the Town Centre and high-rise buildings along Lathlain Street, as well as the eventual redevelopment of the bus depot as housing. There’s also a question about what might the Master Plan be missing? Are there any great ideas out there which haven’t been included and really should be?
The best part about it being a draft Master Plan is that we’ve now got time to answer these questions and provide feedback. Formal feedback opportunities will open later this week but in the meantime please do yourselves a favour and read the proposals so you are ready to comment. There are plenty of diagrams and detailed explanations, as well as overarching statements about the character. It all starts on page 57, but the preceding pages give really useful context (like a study into car park use) as well as a summary of the input the community provided.
Read the draft update to the Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan here. The future of the Town Centre depends on your input!