The next big thing

The release of the City Plan and recent announcements about the City to the Lake project and Capital Metro are exciting and have focused a spotlight on urban growth in Canberra.  Reviving Civic is critical to restoring the heart to the capital and should be matched with the development of equally important precincts to ensure a diversity of investment and opportunity across the city.

One of Canberra’s particular charms is its vibrant and interesting local and group centres - some of our best kept secrets lie hidden in the suburbs.  Lyneham, Ainslie and Chifley local shops groove to their own beat.  Manuka is a stalwart of specialty Canberra retail, Griffith shops are a haven for restaurant and lifestyle lovers.  In the city, New Acton and Braddon have emerged as destinations of choice for our creative indy community. 

A real potential jewel in the Canberra crown is Kingston - one of the original group centres and the site of Canberra’s first shopping centre.  Kingston lives in the memory of old Canberrans and has the potential to be the next beaut place for the young.  Established in the 1920’s the centre has had an unfortunate and less than gradual decline in active shopfronts, despite the establishment of some great businesses and a nightclub and bar scene to rival Civic.  It needs and deserves a good polish to restore its former lustre.

Happily, Kingston is on the threshold of this overdue revamp.  While the Foreshore development has generated new interest and excitement on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin plans have also been brewing for the Kingston centre.  A master plan in 2011 envisioned ‘a vibrant diverse village in the city where the existing character is respected while responding to changing needs’.  The recent variation to the Kingston Precinct Plan opens a door to contemporary redevelopment and an increase in urban density - feeding new businesses and strengthening the local neighbourhood while preserving the heritage and well-loved history of the area.  The centre will see future buildings on the existing surface carpark and an increase to four and six storeys in some areas.  Highgate Lane will become an active Melbourne-esque laneway with the potential for boutiques and cafes and better pedestrian connections.  All of this is welcome but one questions where the affordable accommodation will be for the next generation and those choosing to downsize. 

Let’s watch this space with interest.

Catherine Carter is ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia