Regular users of a popular picnic and barbecue area in Lennox Gardens fear the area is under threat from plans for a traditional Chinese garden given to Canberra by its sister city Beijing.
A spokesman for Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said the barbecue and picnic shelter in Lennox Gardens would be retained but revealed the government was working out a ''suitable place to relocate them to ensure the public can still enjoy these facilities in an open space area of the park''.
Gina Pinkas, who worked in planning for a number of years, belongs to a group that regularly visits the popular picnic and barbecue area in Lennox Gardens, on the south side of Lake Burley Griffin behind the Hyatt Hotel.
''It's a wonderful setting for big group barbecues and we've observed lots of people using the area for picnicking, group meetings or parties,'' she said.
''It's a very sheltered area with lovely grassy slopes down to the lake. It's also easily accessible because of the parking along the road behind the Hyatt so people don't have too far to walk but the cars don't intrude on that site so it's very peaceful.
''It provides an area which is comfortable and secluded but easily accessible and very easy to have large groups picnicking there without interfering with each other. The loss of that would mean they would have to find somewhere else to go and I really don't know if there is anywhere similar to that.''
A works approval planning report submitted to the National Capital Authority indicates Beijing will pay for the planning, design and construction of the Chinese garden. The proposal is open to the public for comment until the end of this month.
The Chief Minister's spokesman said there would be extra plantings as part of the new garden, which would be wheelchair accessible and include improved bike path access.
The spokesman said the site was chosen as it already has a garden acknowledging Canberra's sister city relationship with Nara.
''The Chinese garden will help to symbolise Canberra's sister city relationship with Beijing,'' he said.
''The ultimate goal is to improve facilities in the area and create a place of quiet reflection.''
Ms Pinkas said Beijing's centenary gift to its sister city was great, but she believed there were other more suitable areas where the Chinese garden could be built.
''It's just taking over an area which is much loved now and it would be nicer if the centenary gift from the kind people of Beijing was actually used in an area that needs enhancing, such as the wooded area just across the little inlet,'' she said.
The works approval planning report indicates about half a hectare will be used for the project. The report indicates the garden will have a viewing pavilion and an open gateway arch constructed with stone pillars, slabs and traditional glazed and decorated tiles and panels. It will also feature five crane sculptures and six other traditional garden sculptures and artefacts will be installed.