City Hill to Become a Concrete Birthday Cake and West Basin an Apartment Lego-Land

Juliet Ramsay - August 22, 2015
City Hill to West Basin Future Prospect (drawn by J. Ramsay)
City Hill to West Basin Future Prospect (drawn by J. Ramsay)

The Exposure Draft of the National Capital Plan (NCP) 2015 was recently out for public comment and submissions. There are several stages in this revision taking it to the end of the year when it will be submitted to the Minister. The plan allows for development extremes, discussed below, that will be enormously detrimental to the beauty of Lake Burley Griffin and Canberra in general.

City Hill is an apex of the Parliamentary Triangle that forms the base of the Canberra plan and a most significant Canberra landmark. The development proposed in the Exposure Draft includes 10 very high ‘gateway’ buildings, the same height as the nearby Lakeside Hotel and Capital Apartments. These ‘gateway’ buildings will surround the Hill on upside of London Circuit while a dense mass of buildings up to 25 m high will fill in the spaces between London Circle and Vernon Circuit. Instead of being a significant landmark, City Hill will become a courtyard.

Best loved and most visited cities of the world depend on carefully managed and planned mid-rise developments such as Central Paris with a height limit of 7 storeys and 5 storeys in the historic buildings. Washington has restrictions in its down town of 10 storeys, while central Barcelona and Prague are limited to 5-10 storeys.

Aerial View of City Hill before 2010 ( Photo by Wade Johanson)
City Hill and West Basin Future Development
City Hill and West Basin Future Development from the Exposure Draft of the National Capital Plan 2015

The close packing in of buildings into West Basin Foreshore will destroy a city lakeshore landscape that is valued public space. The buildings of the proposed and scale density set out in the draft Plan will destroy the setting of Commonwealth Avenue Bridge that now has open landscape on both sides of its northern and southern approaches. The buildings packed against Commonwealth Avenue will destroy vistas from the northern end of Commonwealth Avenue to the Brindabella and Bullen Ranges. There is no room for parking and even now visitors to the Nishi Building need to park in the ANU campus.