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New bus interchange site acquired at Dickson ahead of light rail construction

The ACT government has refused to say how much it paid a Taiwanese family company for land at Dickson, set to be developed as a bus and light rail interchange.

About 3000 square metres of land on the east side of Northbourne Avenue, bordered by Challis Street, was subject to a compulsory acquisition by the government last month. The site, adjacent to the Cape Street intersection, is one of the first major land purchases connected with the light rail line to Gungahlin. 

Land records show the former owner was Chung Yi Developments, a company with a registered address at a Sydney consulting company. Australian Securities and Investment Commission records show the company's two shareholders and a third director are members of the same Taiwan based family.  

A spokeswoman for Planning Minister Mick Gentleman refused to say how much the land had cost taxpayers, also refusing to confirm who it had been acquired from.

"From time to time, the ACT government has the need to acquire land for a public purpose," she said. 

"Compensation for the land acquired is a matter between the ACT government and the lessee." 

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The compulsory acquisition was forecast in the Capital Metro business case, with officials planning a tram stop to connect with the interchange, allowing transfers between busses and the tram. A set of pedestrian lights could be relocated to the interchange. 

The light rail business case said the interchange could accommodate about nine east-west bus routes, as well as a new taxi rank and "kiss and ride bays" in Challis Street. It could also allow bus routes to extend to service the Dickson shops. 

A new bus lay over facility could also be considered along Antill Street, adjacent to the Dickson playing fields "to facilitate efficient bus operations".

Construction on the line will begin next year.

The newly completed environmental impact statement assessment report says the agency and successful bidder chosen to build and operate the tram will be required to minimise any impacts to private properties as much as possible, including through the use of a business and landowner engagement plan.

Permanent sections of the tram infrastructure will have to be designed to avoid any substantial impacts on the views to City Hill from Northbourne Avenue and a new tree replacement strategy will have to be agreed with the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate. 

The strategy will outline the timing for tree replacements, the size of new Eucalyptus mannifera stock to be planted after construction, as well as planting techniques and planned maintenance. 

An arborist will provide advice for the protection of trees within the former research station at Downer and around Haig Park. The specialist advice will be reviewed by the ACT Heritage Council before construction begins. 

Other requirements from the report include more archaeological investigation at the Gungahlin construction compound and the stabling depot at Mitchell.

Canberrans will be taught how to interact with trams through a community education program. It will include changed traffic arrangements and safety in tram corridors.

A complaints and feedback service for members of the public will also be required during construction. Contact information will be made available at construction compounds and on construction hoardings and a register of complaints made by the public and incidents causing harm to the environment will be maintained.

Regular reports on complaints and construction issues will be provided to Environment and Planning Directorate. 

Development applications for the 12 kilometre stage one route and the proposed Russell extension were lodged last week. Development application notices have been placed along the main Northbourne corridor and along the possible extension to Russell. 

In the Legislative Assembly last week, Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell said the Russell extension was not a "fait accompli" but was being carefully considered.