The imminent sale of lucrative land around City Hill was not a driving force behind the ACT government's decision to fast-track construction of light rail through the precinct, Chief Minister Andrew Barr says.
The government last week announced plans to split light rail's second stage into two parts, allowing work on the initial Alinga Street to Commonwealth Park section to start as soon as next year, pending approvals.
New Transport Minister Chris Steel is hopeful passengers could be disembarking at Lake Burley Griffin by 2023.
The timeline for construction on the so-called Stage 2A will coincide with the release to market of prime development sites around City Hill.
The government is this year planning to sell off land at the southwestern corner of City Hill, which has been earmarked for 350 dwellings.
The site, which encompasses a carpark and grasslands identified as a habitat for the critically endangered golden sun moth, is in close proximity to the proposed location of the first stop along the new route.
The government expect the station to be among the entire network's most popular because of its proximity to the Australian National University.
A further two City Hill sites, earmarked for a combined 700 dwellings, will be put up for sale in 2020-21 and 2022-23, according to the government's latest land release schedule.
Asked if the government's decision to fast-track construction of light rail through City Hill was designed, at least in part, to maximise revenue from the imminent land sales, Mr Barr was unequivocal.
"Money is not the driver," he said. "The driver is better design outcomes and meeting Canberra's future population needs."
Mr Barr made the comments on Friday, when he joined City Renewal Authority chief executive Malcolm Snow to unveil a new 30-year plan for Canberra's city centre and inner north.
The plan predicts the precinct's population will triple to more than 52,500 by 2046.
City Hill, which currently has no residential population, is expected to be home to more than 6100 people by the middle of the century.
The strategy, which includes a range of "actions" to direct and support the city' transformation, said the government would consider lowering traffic speeds around City Hill.