ACT News


Lake Burley Griffin is Canberra's greatest asset and it's under threat from lakeside revamp, say guardians

The Kingston foreshore and the proposed redevelopment of the Manuka Oval precinct are examples of what will happen if Canberrans don't act to stop the ACT government's proposed redevelopment of the West Basin Waterfront, the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians say.

Group convener Juliet Ramsay said the current "loose space", which lends itself to festivals, markets, informal community gatherings and events, was about to fall victim to a system in which the regulatory authority, the ACT government, had a huge financial interest in the outcome.

Plans include four- and six-storey high apartment blocks and commercial sites.

The guardians have convened a public meeting, to be held in the Hughes Community Centre at 6pm on Wednesday, July 27, to discuss the appropriation and development of Acton Park and other reserves along the foreshore.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has been invited to speak.

"Acton Park [in West Basin] is an important urban lakeside space that is to be appropriated for a building estate," Ms Ramsay, who is hoping hundreds of Canberrans will turn out for the discussion, said.


"[Once this happens] its informal use for recreation facilities, festivals and playgrounds will be lost forever."

Ms Ramsay, who said the guardians had grown to more than 50 members since the launch with just 12 participants in February 2015, said the ACT government was proposing to fill in the lake for up to 80 metres from the current northern shore.

"The estate apartment blocks will commence at about the mid-length of the existing jetty," she said. "Vistas across the lake to the mountains will be blocked by the buildings alongside Commonwealth Avenue."

The guardians, one of eight community groups and individuals who lodged written submissions to last year's West Basin Waterfront Community Consultation, are not alone in their opposition to the redevelopment plan.

The Canberra Chapter of the Walter Burley Griffin Society, the National Trust and Chapman resident, Duncan Marshall, all criticised the proposal.

Canberra CBD Limited condemned the opening of yet another fringe precinct, saying City to the Lake and Capital Metro, both of which focussed on "unleased territory land", would cause "disconnected experiences, walkability and orientation".

Ms Ramsay, who said she had concerns about possibly inappropriate synergies between Canberra developers and the ACT government, moved to Canberra in 1965, shortly after the lake filled for the first time.

"Because I worked in heritage and my background was landscape architecture I have become very attached to the lake because it is such a wonderful landscape feature," she said.

"It has great aesthetic, social, recreational and environmental values. Over the last few years we've been seeing these values just being whittled away."

Ms Ramsay cited other instances where the ACT government had appropriated land originally reserved for community use and sold it off at a substantial profit.

"Kingston foreshore had two sites, one for [a] commercial boat maintenance complex and they had it moved out of the foreshore, because it was supposed to be too noisy, and that was moved on to the Black Mountain Peninsula Park. The [Kingston site] sold for millions," she said.

"The same thing occurred for the Capital Lakes Rowing Club [which was moved from Kingston to Grevillea Park]. That site also sold for millions."


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