ACT News

Could Woden become the new Braddon? ACT government reveals master plan

The ACT government plans to transform the Woden town centre into an economic hub resembling Braddon or New Acton with the expansion of the shopping plaza and a possible extension of light rail.

Minister for Planning Mick Gentleman, who launched a draft plan for redevelopment on Thursday, said the town centre could become a major employment and shopping destination with Athllon Drive set to become a transport corridor between Woden and Mawson.

Mick Gentleman hopes Woden  will become the new Braddon.
Mick Gentleman hopes Woden will become the new Braddon. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Mr Gentleman said any changes would take note of lessons learned during the development of Canberra's inner north and feedback obtained during a six-week consultation period.

"We'll use those examples of what you have seen out at Braddon and of course at New Acton, where the change to the way planning occurs and construction is invitational and makes people want to go there," Mr Gentleman said.

An artist's impression of the plans.
An artist's impression of the plans. 

The draft master plan reveals the ACT government has already planned for the expansion of light rail with Callam Street and Athllon Drive identified as possible passageways.

"The planned improvements to public transport and the prospect of light rail will provide people with genuine options for travel to and from the centre," read the draft report.

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"Callam Street offers the opportunity to allow for development with active uses fronting on to the street with improved pedestrian and cycle amenity, safer crossing points and allowance for possible future rapid transit, including light rail.

"The centre has direct connections for public transport between other major centres and a corridor that could allow for light rail into the future," read the report.

A key component of the plan is to improve the existing bus interchange and increase the retail space of Woden Plaza by 20,000 square metres with additional parking; although a development application is yet to be lodged.

"The shopping centre is planned to expand onto Callam Street and is likely to include a large retail anchor with several speciality shops fronting the new bus station," read the report.

"The bus interchange improvements, together with the possible expansion of the Woden Plaza, offer new opportunities to better integrate public transport with the cycle and pedestrian networks."

The government will also consider redeveloping the Canberra Institute of Technology campus or relocating the college to an alternative site, possibly within the town centre.

The Woden Community Centre, which houses the Lollipop Children's Centre catering for 60 children, has also been listed for a possible relocation or redevelopment.

"The existing community centre buildings require upgrading to meet the functional requirements for each facility and to cater for predicted increase in community needs," read the report.

Mr Gentleman said planning decisions would also be dictated by demographic changes in the area with more Canberrans choosing to live in higher density areas close to amenities. 

"If you have a look at Braddon and New Acton you can see a growth in density in those areas and residential growth as well," he said.

Growth in the Woden Valley area has been limited during the last ten years with the population increasing by less than 1700 people between 2003 and 2013.

"However, based on population projections the population in the centre itself is expected to more than double by 2032", read the report.

The draft report found the 14,500 workers in the town centre – mostly public servants and retail staffers – tended to leave the area after work, which resulted in minimal options for generating a night economy.  

"This can create streets and public spaces that are unsafe or perceived to be unsafe throughout the evenings," read the report.

Mr Gentleman said the government would "make sure people feel comfortable and safe when walking through the Woden town centre."

"I encourage members of the community to visit the public displays and 'meet the planners' sessions to provide input into the development of the master plan for Woden town centre and Mawson group centre," he said.

Public consultation on the draft plans will remain open until March 2015.