Kings and Commonwealth Avenue Draft Design Strategy

Kings and Commonwealth Avenue Draft Design Strategy

The Canberra Business Chamber commends the National Capital Authority for preparing this urban design strategy. The Chamber recognises the national significance of these landmark avenues and urges the ACT Government to approach the redesign of the Kings and Commonwealth Avenues with a view towards reflecting a quality representative of the National Capital.

The Chamber appreciates the interconnected and precinct nature of Canberra’s landmark avenues and seeks to ensure that the proposed design, particularly the Commonwealth Avenue aspect, does not impact on the south-eastern quadrant of City Hill which is currently proposed as the Australia Forum site.

The proposed design appears to increase the reserve width of Commonwealth Avenue from 60 meters to approximately 80 meters between London Circuit and Vernon Circle. This increase would impinge on the Australia Forum site and effectively prevent the Reference Design for the Australia Forum (prepared by Fuksas and GMB) from being realised. An expanded reserve width would significantly reduce the capacity of the Australia Forum site and undermine the scale of the exhibition halls which are critical to the functionality and business case for the Australia Forum.

The proposed Kings and Commonwealth Avenue design will also prevent the development of the ballroom, key public areas and meeting rooms within the Australia Forum. The proposed design will also impact the line of sight from the approved Australia Forum Reference Design to Parliament House along Commonwealth Avenue.

The recently prepared reference design for the Australia Forum, which has been supported by the NCA, was predicated on the narrowing of Commonwealth Avenue between London Circuit and Vernon Circle from 60 meters to 40 meters as provided for by the National Capital Plan (Amendment 59).

Narrowing the avenues is consistent with the principles of the Griffin Plan which terminated the Commonwealth avenue at London Circuit and extended it as a local street to City Hill at 30 meters width. The provisions of the National Capital Plan (Amendment 59) reflect this approach where the avenue extensions of Commonwealth, Constitution, Edinburgh Avenues are proposed to be reduced to 40 meters.

Canberra Business Chamber supports the National Capital Plan (Amendment 59) approach outlined above as it will reduce the reliance on Vernon Circle as a thoroughfare traffic route and increase the enclosure of City Hill as the pre-eminent central park/space of the city. Attached is a series of overlays which highlights the impact the proposed Commonwealth Avenue design has on the Australia Forum City Hill site. We would be more than happy to elaborate on this submission with a presentation to the Board.