Tenders for War Memorial's $500m revamp could go out this year

The Australian War Memorial expects to begin procurement for its $498 million redevelopment before the year is out or in early 2019 as the major overhaul progresses.

The redevelopment is still in its infancy but has generated strong reactions from supporters and detractors since it was unveiled.

Artist impressions of the planned redevelopment of the Australian War Memorial. Photo: Supplied

Artist impressions of the planned redevelopment of the Australian War Memorial. Photo: Supplied

Some historians have called into question the extravagant figure slated for the redevelopment while other major cultural institutions make do with existing funding. Many former military personnel have said the funds could be better spent supporting veterans.

Memorial director Brendan Nelson said he was "completely unapologetic" about the amount of funding given to the memorial and said the redevelopment was aimed at honouring the "Invictus generation".

A spokesman for the war memorial said the immediate priority for the institution was to recruit an executive project director and establish a project team before going out to tender in coming months.

A picture from 2001 showing an Iroquois helicopter from the Royal Australian Air Force that flew in Vietnam in 1966 being transported by truck to the then-new Anzac Hall at the rear of the Memorial. Photo: Paul Harris

A picture from 2001 showing an Iroquois helicopter from the Royal Australian Air Force that flew in Vietnam in 1966 being transported by truck to the then-new Anzac Hall at the rear of the Memorial. Photo: Paul Harris

He said the first construction activity was expected to begin in 2020. The total project is expected to be completed over nine years.

A spokeswoman for the National Capital Authority confirmed the war memorial had not lodged a works approval for the redevelopment which would be necessary as it is a designated area under the National Capital Plan.

She said the usual timeframe for an approval decision was 15 business days but given the complexity of the the redevelopment it would likely take longer.

She added that public consultation would also be necessary prior to any redevelopment works and while also typically taking 15 business days when the matter was of particular national interest it would likely be extended.

Prior to a works approval being granted, she said, the project would need to be approved by both houses of parliament and a referral from the Department of Environment and Energy would be necessary.

Both the government and the Labor Party have publicly provided support for the project.

One element that forms part of the works approval process is to address moral right implications. The moral rights holders of Anzac Hall, which is proposed to be demolished, is architect firm Denton Corker Marshall.

The firm and the Australian Institute of Architects have been vocal in their opposition to the demolition and ACT chapter president Philip Leeson criticised the lack of consultation with both the public and the industry.

"It was revealed that work on these redevelopment plans had been secretly underway since 2015," Mr Leeson said.

"Surely such a development within the public realm requires large scale community and stakeholder consultation.

"Perhaps this secrecy was connected to the potential for community backlash against the wasteful demolition of an award-winning building 17 years young which holds the memories of Australians who served our nation."

Anzac Hall is the building directly behind the stone memorial. It houses major artefacts from the memorial's collection such as the Lancaster bomber G for George and the Japanese midget submarine.

It opened in 2001 and was awarded Australia's most prestigious award for public architecture, the Sir Zelman Cowan award, in 2005.

The Australian Institute of Architects have launched a campaign to save Anzac Hall from being demolished in the hope of garnering enough public support against demolition while the redevelopment is still at an early stage.