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Old November 23rd, 2017, 03:44 PM   #1
AndyGM
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Canberra's urbanisation

Right, I've been meaning to get my nerd-on and start this thread for a while so here goes.

Unless you visit Canberra regularly (or at least the ACT threads) you're probably not aware of the changes happening here, and you would probably find the following statement hard to believe:

Canberra is going through a densification and urbanisation process more extensive than any other Australian city.

So, because its me, and I never say anything without providing methods and sources, I've decided to start a thread in the national forums for posting Canberra developments, and have included a bunch of information, photos and renders to get it started. Note: I'm only including renders of projects that are on sale or U/C. I'll just list others.

So, some brief background.

Most Australians don't think about Canberra much (meaning the city, rather than 'Canberra' as shorthand for federal politics). And when they do, they generally think of a city with a core of federal government buildings separated by hectares of grass, carparks and roads, surrounded by an unmeasurably boring place full of public servants, roundabouts, carparks, no public transport and suburban houses.

Bill Bryson said it best when, in his book 'Down Under', suggested that Canberra should use the slogan 'Canberra: Why wait for death?'.

When I arrived in Canberra in 2007, this view was pretty much spot on. I hated it. However, even then the first green shoots of change were showing.

Canberra today is growing at a faster rate than any other capital except Melbourne, and its building almost exclusively new apartments and townhouses (relative to population) to house those people. In fact, its building more (as a ratio of all new dwellings) than any other Australian city (including Sydney).

Apartments make up about 50-55 per cent of new dwellings, and there is a firm pipeline of around 14,000 apartments (U/C, on sale, approved or otherwise committed). Townhouses & terraces make up about 25 per cent of new dwellings, while detached houses make up the remaining 20-25 per cent.

So, what does this change look like on the ground? I'll run through the city by district below (there are seven), with an individual post for each.
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Old November 23rd, 2017, 06:04 PM   #2
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Inner North

The Inner North is Canberra's most densely populated district and is the focus of the largest portion of urban renewal.

Of the 4,100 or so apartments currently U/C in Canberra (and 14,000 total pipeline), 2,100 (5,900) are in the inner north. Also, this area is where most demolitions of detached houses for new townhouses happens so medium density is also increasing.

The Inner North includes the original suburbs of Canberra that sit valley between Mt Ainslie and Black Mountain, north of lake Burley Griffin. The main centre (and main CBD of Canberra) is Civic, while there are sub-centres at Dickson and Russell. On a map, Civic and Russell form the two northern points of the Parliamentary Triangle, with Parliament House on the south side of the lake forming the southern point.

Civic

Civic isn't a real name, but refers just to the suburb of 'Canberra', which technically covers just the area inside the Cooyong st hexagon. However I've included the Ainslie Ave projects below as they face Civic.

While it is Canberra's CBD, there is a strict height limit in place for Civic that means buildings can't be more than 617mRL high (the height of the Parliament House roof). This rule is set by the feds and enforced through the National Capital Auth (NCA). In practice this means height-limit buildings range in height from ~60m near the lake, to only 45-50m at the Braddon end. It also means Civic looks very monolithic! It's getting worse as well, there are currently around 25ish height limit buildings with another ten or so U/C, approved or on-sale. However, many of the existing H-L buildings are old and don't take up their full block, but the rules allow nil-setback so most of the new ones are very square and take up most or all of their sites.


Highgate (two towers): resi, 190 aprts, U/C (up to about 4th floor)



The Capitol: resi, 207 apartments, U/C (demo)



Civic Quarter stage 1: office, U/C (demo). The building takes up less than half the site, no plans for the rest of the site released.




Constitution Place: office & hotel, construction commencing Jan.




Founders Lane stage 1: resi, ~400 apartments (700 whole project), U/C (excavating)



Metropol: resi, 500 ap, On Sale (directly opposite Founders Lane, hence why they are the same shape. They're supposed to be mirrored)



Park Avenue: resi, 190 ap, On Sale



Canberra Centre - Section 96: resi ~300 ap, hotel & retail, approved.



Casino expansion: 2x hotels, Casino has been approved for expansion but they're only allowed pokies if hotels are built.



Other projects proposed for Civic include a high end hotel (Garema Place), a height limit (but hidden between other buildings) office/resi/carpark and section 63 (a large carpark site being land-banked by Mirvac). The foreshore project (City to the Lake) will drive long term changes.

Braddon

The former car-yard & strip mall suburb of Braddon is now the 'trendy' (by CBR standards) area. The commercial area is being redeveloped extensively.

Yamaroshi: resi, 60 ap, U/C (excavation)



Midnight: resi & hotel, 250 ap, U/C (demo)



Branx: resi, 60 ap, on sale



There are a number of smaller apartment developments in Braddon U/C not worth posting (Gallery, Halston), and theres a number of other projects in the works, including the Raiders Club (~150 ap) and another 3 or 4 ~60ish apartment, 6 level buildings on similar sites to Yamaroshi & Branx.


Northbourne Ave

The light rail route along Northbourne is driving massive regeneration. The older buildings along Northbourne consist mostly of either big-floorplate, open carpark 2-4 storey offices (80s era, you know the type) or 50s & 60s era social housing. The Government has sold much of the social housing for redevelopment (netting $100m+ even after deducting costs to build new gov housing elsewhere), while the private sector is slowly replacing the offices with apartments & hotel.

Zoning allows for 8-10 levels facing Northbourne, with slightly higher at a couple of intersections. In 10+ years I would expect the whole 4km Civic-Dickson to be apartments similar to the first two below.

Deco: hotel, small resi component, U/C (level 2)



On Forbes: resi, 150 ap, U/C (excavation)



Malabar Dickson: resi, ~220 ap, U/C (topped out)



Dickson Shops: resi & supermarkets (coles & aldi), 140 ap, on hold (nimby planning appeal funded by owner of neighbouring woolies bldg)



Dickson motor registry: 4 buildings, resi & office, 280 ap, proposed (locked in through ACT gov tender)



In the pipeline for Northbourne are two massive precincts either side of the road near Dickson ('Dickson on Northbourne' and 'Lyneham on Northbourne') where ACT Gov sold old social housing. Should net 1000-1500 apartments & townhouses. There's also a number of sites on the route that have been sold or are on sale for development.

Constitution Ave corridor

Constitution Ave between Civic and Russell is undergoing a similar transformation to Northbourne, and is a future LR route. Const. Ave was planned to be stage 2 of the LR, but because it would mainly service properties owned by the feds and the privately owned airport, I think the ACT gov will hold off until the federal government and airport owners pitch in some cash.

Koben (Campbell 5 stage 3): resi & hotel, U/C (level 6)



Siena (Campbell 5 stage 4): resi, ~80 ap, U/C (basement)



Iskia: resi, 150 ap, U/C (excavating)



Campbell 5 stage 5: hotel & resi, proposed (DA submitted)
(no pic yet)

Future projects along Const. Ave are many and big. In adition to the LR, the federal gov is looking to sell its decrepit office buildings Anzac Park East and Anzac Park West, with a condition that a single developer buys them, demolishes both (they aren't worth saving) and building matching replacements of similar scale. The ACT gov is in talks with UNSW for them to buy the CIT (tafe) campus and large gravel carpark and build a uni campus. UNSW are keen because they already have big resources in Canberra (they run the uni side of ADFA) and Canberra is attractive to int. students. The ACT government is looking to replace the pool with a new rugby/soccer stadium so that Raiders/Brumbies/future A-League teams play in the city.


Updates are usually posted here:
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1706399
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Old November 23rd, 2017, 10:15 PM   #3
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Inner South

The Inner South includes the parliamentary precinct and surrounding suburbs, including Kingston, which is where most of the new development in this area is occurring. There's actually not a huge amount happening right now, but the pipeline is reasonable, sitting at about 2000.


Interesting side note: the ACT used to be administered by the feds until getting self-government in the late 80s. However, when they transferred power to the new ACT gov, the feds retained full planning powers over the key national areas (the parly triangle, lake etc), and veto power over 'main thoroughfares'. The National Capital Authority is the agency that runs the planning. As a result, there are two independent planning bureaucracies in Canberra that cover different parts of the city. Thankfully they get on pretty well.

Most of the area near parliament house is controlled by the NCA and there's not a lot going on. A new office block is built every now and then, but residential development isn't allowed. The Gov has recently sold a heritage listed (but unoccupied) office block to private developers to convert it to a hotel. The area to the west and south is Yarralumla and Deakin, where most of the embassies (and the lodge) are located.

Most new development in the Inner South occurs at Kingston (and Kingston Foreshore) and nearby suburbs. Kingston Foreshore is a high density precinct built on reclaimed industrial land on the lake foreshore. It's about 2/3 done, and will eventually have about 3000 apartments and townhouses.



The Archer: resi, 98 ap, U/C (excavation)




Atria: resi, 159 ap, on sale



Kingsborough (stage 1): resi, 157 ap, U/C



New hotel Forrest:



Upcoming projects in the Inner South include the remainder of the Foreshore, about 3 or 4 100-150 apartment projects near the train station and a few smaller projects in Kingston and Manuka. There's also a move by the NCA to open up a bit more land in Barton for dev.
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Old November 23rd, 2017, 10:34 PM   #4
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Woden

Woden is the main town centre sitting directly south of the inner city.

Quick history & geography lesson: Canberra is divided into seven districts (technically eight if you include Weston, but that's really just a part of Woden). Two districts (Inner North and Inner South), constitute the original Griffin plan, while the remainder (Woden, Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Gungahlin and Molonglo) resulted from the 'Y' plan for city growth. The Y plan was a 'masterpiece' of 60's car-dominated planning and its one of the main reasons Canberra is the dull-hole it is today. Each of the town centres is supposed to be like a mini CBD, but in reality they're mostly just a few office buildings and a large shopping centre surrounded by carparks.

On the plus side, the layouts mean there are huge tracts of land reserved in the town centres for perfect for redevelopment. And because they only neighbour offices and shops, there is very little nimby opposition.

Also, outside of the inner city there are no federally imposed height limits. Canberra's tallest existing building is in Woden, while taller towers are proposed for Belconnen. In fact, once all the current projects are complete, I don't think any of Canberra's 10-20 tallest will be in Civic.

Ivy: resi, 280 ap, on sale



15 Bowes St: resi, 448 apartments, approved



Wova: resi, 800 apartments (4 stages).
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Old November 23rd, 2017, 11:30 PM   #5
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i love whats happening in canberra. really good stuff coming up.
love 15bowes st
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Old November 24th, 2017, 12:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyGM View Post
Woden is the main town centre sitting directly south of the inner city.

Quick history & geography lesson: Canberra is divided into seven districts (technically eight if you include Weston, but that's really just a part of Woden). Two districts (Inner North and Inner South), constitute the original Griffin plan, while the remainder (Woden, Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Gungahlin and Molonglo) resulted from the 'Y' plan for city growth. The Y plan was a 'masterpiece' of 60's car-dominated planning and its one of the main reasons Canberra is the dull-hole it is today. Each of the town centres is supposed to be like a mini CBD, but in reality they're mostly just a few office buildings and a large shopping centre surrounded by carparks.

On the plus side, the layouts mean there are huge tracts of land reserved in the town centres for perfect for redevelopment. And because they only neighbour offices and shops, there is very little nimby opposition.

Also, outside of the inner city there are no federally imposed height limits. Canberra's tallest existing building is in Woden, while taller towers are proposed for Belconnen. In fact, once all the current projects are complete, I don't think any of Canberra's 10-20 tallest will be in Civic.
This is a great thread, I've always been very interested in Canberra's urban development.

Does the urban area's relationship with Queanbeyan get considered in metropolitan planning?

What's next after Molonglo Valley? Will they ever develop Kowen do you think?

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Old November 24th, 2017, 03:11 AM   #7
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A question about east Kingston, why are the blocks bounded by Sandalwood st, Eyre st, Myrtle st and Blueberry st completely undeveloped?
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Old November 24th, 2017, 03:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
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A question about east Kingston, why are the blocks bounded by Sandalwood st, Eyre st, Myrtle st and Blueberry st completely undeveloped?
That area is known as the Causeway. It and the neighbouring blocks accommodated modest cottages built IIRC before World War 2. In the 70s they were demolished with a view to replacing them with new houses, but not all the earlier residents wanted to remain, so part of the area remained vacant. The entire area abutting the Foreshore to the east forms part of the East Lake urban renewal area, but plans for redevelopment are on hold because of the presence of contaminants. The ACT govt wants the Commonwealth to pay for a clean-up because the contamination occurred decades ago before self-government. My guess is that it will happen at some stage, but the ACT govt isn't in any rush because there are plenty of other, less problematic, areas available for redevelopment, including Northbourne Ave and West Basin.
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Old November 24th, 2017, 07:37 AM   #9
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Wow very informative! Thanks a lot for your work.
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Old November 24th, 2017, 09:49 AM   #10
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Wow very informative! Thanks a lot for your work.
Still four districts to go!
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Old November 24th, 2017, 10:16 AM   #11
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Belconnen

Belconnen sits about 8km to the north west of Civic, separated from the Inner North by a greenbelt of vegetation along O'Connor ridge. It's Canberra's most populous district, with over 90,000 residents, and unlike the other 'older' districts of Woden, Tuggeranong and Weston, Belconnen is still adding new suburbs on the fringe. The latest sprawl, Ginninderry, will actually spill over the border into NSW.

Belconnen town centre was (is?) the worst of the lot. The Westfield dominates the area and is a concrete monolith, the lake foreshore is woefully under-utilised, and the light industry/commercial district is deeply unpleasant.

However, there are a lot of new apartments and more on the way, there is less nimby activity than other areas of Canberra so its more attractive to developers, and there remain a LOT of carparks to soak up future projects.

Republic: resi & hotel, will be ~1300 apartments across 5 buildings (the central cluster in the render). Stage 1 is on sale.
The tallest tower (part of stage 2) will be Canberra's tallest, at about 110m.



Cirrus: resi, 320 apartments over three buildings. Stage 1 is the two buildings below. Stage 2 is a third, shorter building that would sit out of frame to the right.


Labor Club hotel/carpark/office. This turd of a building is being constructed by the Belconnen Labor Club as they used to use the carpark Republic is being built on.



Other projects in the pipeline for Belco include a long term plan to expand the University of Canberra, the approval to expand the markets and build apartments on surplus land, and the redevelopment of the old police remand centre. In the broader Belco district there's also small apartment projects (4-6 level) being built at Jamison and Bruce, while the suburb of Lawson is also U/C, and it will be 90+ per cent townhouses and apartments.
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Old November 24th, 2017, 11:57 AM   #12
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Tuggeranong

Tuggeranong is the most southerly of Canberra's districts, and was mostly developed in the 80s and 90s. The basic layout of the town centre itself is slightly better than Belco or Woden, but the town centre is (bizarrely) located on one edge of the wider district, separated from its suburbs by a lake.

Tuggeranong represents the last of the 'old' planning in Canberra, and it also demonstrates one of the curious outcomes from the ACTs super strict (but predictable) planning rules.

As you have probably guessed, Canberra doesn't have any local councils. The Territory Government provides all of the council services. There is also a single, consistent planning framework for the whole ACT (excluding the NCA controlled bits) and a single planning bureaucracy. This planning framework is simultaneously super strict (no exemptions from meeting key criteria like heights, setbacks, etc) but also super lenient, with seemingly anything and everything allowed as long as it fits within the allowed 'box'. It's not a true code based approval system, but its close.

The Government also owns all the land so exerts control that way... but I'll discuss that in a later post.

In addition to the strict/lenient system, there appears to be good, ongoing communication between developers and the bureaucrats so expectations can be set early. As a result, developers seem to have an amazing degree of certainty when designing projects. Many developments go on sale before a formal DA has been submitted, with developers obviously able to get enough early confidence from the planners that their project would get approval when submitted.

The end result of this system is that it is extremely rare for a DA to get flat out rejected, and uncommon for major changes to be required of a submitted DA. In my 11 years in Canberra, I can think of only 2 or 3 proposals rejected outright, and less than 10 that have required major redesigns.

As someone from WA, where it seems only one out of every three proposals actually goes ahead, its very strange but welcome.

So what does this have to do with Tuggeranong's population?

Well, the flip side of the strict/lenient planning rules is that if your land is zoned for R1 single residential, then it stays single residential. There is no subdivision, no knock downs and replacement with two dwellings, nothing.

Further, when you buy (actually lease) a block in the ACT, you are required to build straight away. No sitting on the land for ten years until you get your shit together and build a house. Therefore all new Canberra suburbs are fully built within a few years of starting.

The long term effect of these rules is that the total number of houses in a suburb stays constant, but the young families who originally built the houses start ageing and their kids move out of home. This eventually means every suburb will go through a long, slow population decline 20-40 years after being established.

If you look at Canberra's population growth at the SA2 level, you'll actually notice that the vast majority of suburbs are declining in population. The effect is particularly pronounced in Tuggeranong because 1) the suburbs are at the 20-40 year peak decline point, and 2) until recently Tuggeranong didn't have any new dwellings being added anywhere.

Thankfully, a few years back the Gov decided to open up parts of the town centre for apartments. So far they've added about 1000 apartments, with another 800 U/C or on sale. There's also more sites being prepared for hundreds more.


SQ1 Southquay stage 2: resi, ~190 apartments, U/C (I think)



Jardin Terraces stage 1: resi, ~200 apartments, U/C



Jardin stage 2: resi, 339 apartments, approved
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Old November 24th, 2017, 12:00 PM   #13
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Right, five districts down. Two to go. I'll also do an additional post on where Canberra is going to grow in the future.
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Old November 24th, 2017, 12:29 PM   #14
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Great thread, who would have thought so much was going on in Canberra.

Question from someone looking to move to Canberra in the next year or so. Are there many changes happening at ground level to put a bit more life into the cities major centres, particularly Civic area and Tuggeranong? I think there is a lakeside promenade/development to extend the city to the foreshore but not sure if anything else happening.
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Old November 24th, 2017, 12:53 PM   #15
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Great stuff Andy.

Couple of points re: Tuggeranong for those unaware -

It was never developed to its envisaged 170,000 population ceiling. Hence the lopsidedness of the town centre’s location vis-a-vis the surrounding suburbs. Spiritual DLP man ‘Why’ Seselja is a proponent for development of a new suburb between the town centre and the Murrumbidgee. The original plans included suburbs on both sides of the River, plus further south to Tharwa.

Southquay is about 75-80% complete, with residents moved in. The southeastern side of Lake Tuggeranong is now being prepared for further high density development.
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Old November 24th, 2017, 01:00 PM   #16
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Thanks for the thread Andy. I personally like the height limited, monolithic nature of the developments in Canberra, as it reminds me of a more European aesthetic which is quite different to the way most of our cities are developing. It should result in a more uniform density across the city.
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Old November 24th, 2017, 01:16 PM   #17
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Great thread, who would have thought so much was going on in Canberra.

Question from someone looking to move to Canberra in the next year or so. Are there many changes happening at ground level to put a bit more life into the cities major centres, particularly Civic area and Tuggeranong? I think there is a lakeside promenade/development to extend the city to the foreshore but not sure if anything else happening.
The story with the activation and vibrancy is similar to the broader development story. Changes are happening and things have improved, but because the city started from such a miserably low base it’ll take a long time to fix.

Plenty more cafes restaurants and bars opening in and around Civic recently, particularly in Braddon. Kingston Foreshore is also good now.

The City to the Lake project, which is looking to extend the city over Parkes Ave to the lake, is just starting now (at least some of the parks/landscaping. Media reports say they’re finding it difficult to work out how to cover/bury the freeway affordably
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Old November 24th, 2017, 01:54 PM   #18
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Quote:
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The story with the activation and vibrancy is similar to the broader development story. Changes are happening and things have improved, but because the city started from such a miserably low base it’ll take a long time to fix.

Plenty more cafes restaurants and bars opening in and around Civic recently, particularly in Braddon. Kingston Foreshore is also good now.

The City to the Lake project, which is looking to extend the city over Parkes Ave to the lake, is just starting now (at least some of the parks/landscaping. Media reports say they’re finding it difficult to work out how to cover/bury the freeway affordably
Thanks. I wondered what the plans were for the road as it's a pretty big barrier.
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Old November 25th, 2017, 02:41 AM   #19
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A+ for Andy. Excellent work.
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Old November 25th, 2017, 07:46 AM   #20
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This is awesome!
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