Renewal of gateway key regardless of light rail or bus overhaul plan

Now that the contract has been signed, whether you're for light rail or against it, an implicit link has been made between the government's tram project and their urban renewal agenda.

Earlier this year, the property industry gave in-principle support for the government's city and gateway renewal initiative – recommending the government develop an infrastructure master plan, a city master plan, and conduct a review of the Territory Plan and relevant precinct codes.

When trying to make the connection between light rail and urban renewal along the proposed transport corridor, there have been calls for better integration between relevant government agencies. At present, you're pretty much left with having to infer the causal links on your own.

Yet scratch the surface and it's reasonable to conclude you can exchange light rail for another transport solution, and the government's gateway plans remain intact. For many, this is seeing the obvious for the first time, and it reinforces this plan as a primary priority with transport playing a facilitative role.

Not directly linking the light rail project to the gateway renewal initiatives can be construed as shrewd foresight on the part of our city's planners. In this regard, whether these renewal initiatives are accompanied by light rail as proposed by the government or an overhaul of the ACTION bus system as countered by the opposition is for voters to decide in October's ACT election.

In the interim what's critical to the property industry is clarity that the government's city and gateway renewal plans are feasible, and provide certainty for investments to happen. As the writer Mark Twain once wrote: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

This speaks directly to industry, and the dangers of scant information and speculation. It's time to move from how the city and gateway initiative could be done, to how it will be done. Government needs to give industry a clear sense of true north on this.

Involving all relevant agencies in future consultations is a welcome step forward.

First published in The Age, 28 May 2016.