1958 - 1989 National Capital Development Commission
Mr Fairhall at meeting (planning and development commission), Canberra, 1958.
Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia. NAA: A1200, L25942
Role: To Plan, Develop and construct Canberra as Australia's National Capital
Sir John Overall, Commissioner, 1958-1972
W.C. Andrews, Commissioner, 1972-1974
Tony Powell, Commissioner, 1974-1985
Malcolm Latham, Commissioner, 1985-1989
The NCDC identified four principal tasks in its first annual report. These were to complete the establishment of Canberra as the seat of government, to further its development as the administrative centre by providing facilities to permit further transfer of public servants from Melbourne, to give Canberra an atmosphere and individuality worthy of the National Capital, and to further the growth of the city as a place in which to live in comfort and dignity. Over the next 31 years the Commission implemented much of this vision.
Hand-over ceremony for Henry Moore's sculpture "Two-piece reclining figure no. 9" outside the Australian National Library, Canberra, February 1970, National Capital Development Commission.
National Library of Australia, nla.obj-146743758-m
The NCDC's first task was to implement the lake scheme in the Griffin Plan which was completed in 1964 giving the capital an ornamental and recreational waterway with extensive lakeshore parklands. It adopted a Y-Plan for decentralised development and built four new towns called Woden-Weston Creek, Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin - to cope with demands for rapid urban growth. At the same time, the NCDC undertook major projects of national significance such as the Russell Hill Defence Offices, construction of Anzac Parade and monuments and memorials, and planning sites for an increasing number of diplomatic missions. The design and construction of major institutions in the Parliamentary Triangle - the National Library, High Court of Australia, National Gallery of Australia and the National Science and Technology Centre went some way towards realising Griffin's vision for the capital. The development of the National Capital Open Space System addressed environmental concerns as well as the need for recreation areas for a rapidly expanding population. Canberra's population rose by almost ten-fold under the NCDC, from nearly 40,000 to just under 300,000.
With the completion of the new Parliament House on Capital Hill in 1988 (built by the Parliament House Construction Authority, not the NCDC) and the proposed introduction of self government to the Australian Capital Territory, the government believed the Commission's role was largely over. The NCDC was abolished in 1989 and most of its functions and staff transferred to the Australian Capital Territory Government. A new National Capital Planning Authority was established to represent the Commonwealth's interest in the future planning and development of the National Capital.
Acknowledgement of Country
Our work is on the land of the Ngunnawal People, Ngunnawal Country. We pay our respects to their Elders – past, present and emerging.