ACT News


Hopes for hipster precinct in revamp of Woden town centre

Work is about to begin on several projects for the revamp of Woden town centre, including the long overdue construction of a new bus interchange.

The demolition of the old police station is also due to begin in September, followed shortly afterwards by separating Medibank House from the present bus interchange and expanding the Woden Plaza.

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman believes the Woden town centre will become a more attractive drawcard for residents as its transformation takes place.

He hopes the town centre can follow the example of the turn-around in Braddon from semi-industrial area to hipster precinct, as residential blocks are constructed with shops and cafes at street level.

"I think it will become more of an exciting hub with residential and services for people who live around the area and are going through, so you might see a modernisation in the way the shops operate," he said.

A new community centre, childcare centre and youth centre could be located together.


"We are also looking at conversations with the senior citizens club to see whether they want to remain where they are or possibly relocate to a community hub area as well," he said.

Scentre Group (formerly Westfield) has lodged a development application to modernise and expand Woden Plaza.

The new bus interchange will run alongside the plaza, similar to the operation of the bus station at Belconnen Mall.

The Woden Valley Community Council has been agitating for several years for a new community centre.

"A number of sites where it might go were actually pointed out on the 2004 master plan but nothing much has happened," council president Dr Jenny Stewart said.

"It remains to be seen whether the current master planning exercise will take us anywhere. So far, it has been very low key."

The Doma Group, a significant player in ACT development, is concerned at the "king hit" to the Woden town centre by the "wholesale transfers" of federal departments and agencies to other town centres.

"It has borne the brunt of the public service cutbacks, but this has escaped the attention of our elected representatives," group director Jure Domazet said.

"It has lost whole departments to Tuggeranong and Civic, and the Department of Health, the largest single tenant, is significantly contracting in size.

"This reduces demand for everything in the area, be it office space, apartments, public transport or the purchase of goods and services."

Earlier this year, the Doma Group was planning to redevelop the boarded-up Alexander and AlbemarleĀ buildings.

"Due to the changed market conditions, we are actively investigating our options with these buildings in the light of what is expected to be a protracted soft office market in Canberra," Mr Domazet said.

With several developments planned for the Woden town centre, architect and town planner Lydia Frommer said she was concerned at an ad hoc approach to traffic management.

The traffic study for each development was done in isolation to other projects, she said.

"So I believe that in the long-term the traffic issue is going to be a nightmare," she said.