Terry Weber

Canberra, as the National Capital, belongs to all Australians. It is the National Capital Authority’s(NCA) great responsibility to plan, care, maintain and inform people about the significance of Australia’s capital. As the agency charged with ensuring that the Australian Government’s ongoing interest in the National Capital and its assets are effectively managed, the NCA seeks to apply innovative,cost-effective solutions that will enable it to deliver its diverse range of programs and projects.

This Annual Report provides an overview of the NCA’s various activities and highlights key projects and achievements over the 2014–15 financial year. Over this period, key objectives of the NCA’s were:

  • to be proactive and responsive to development applications
  • to address any possible duplication of services and processes between the NCA and the ACT Government
  • to be communicative and open to local and interstate communities and provide effective communication to varied audiences
  • to provide proper consultation and host open forums for the community to engage with the planning processes and other roles and responsibilities of the NCA
  • to apply considered planning principles that align with the long-term vision and aspirations for Canberra, highlighting the unique character of a planned National Capital
  • to strive to educate visitors to Canberra about Australia’s National Capital.

This year saw a number of key projects prepared and undertaken by the NCA. The key projects over this time are detailed below.

Under the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988, the NCA is responsible for preparing and administering the National Capital Plan (the Plan) for the Australian Government. The NCA’s major reviews of the Plan were released for public consultation in early June 2015. In guiding the future development of Canberra, it is essential that the Commonwealth and ACT Governments collaborate effectively in fulfilling their respective jurisdictional administration, while also simplifying the planning system for those who use it.

The NCA introduced the Commonwealth’s pay parking scheme in October 2014. A number of NCA-managed car parks underwent a range of enabling works, prior to the implementation of the scheme. Initial evaluations indicate that the scheme has been a success and resulted in an increase in the number of car parking spaces available for both visitors and tourists.

Bowen Place Crossing is a major civil and landscape construction project that is due for completion late 2015. It will provide improved safety and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists using the popular lakeside circuit. It will also significantly improve the aesthetic quality of what is a main entry into the Parliamentary Zone and the approach to Parliament House.

During 2014–15 Blundells Cottage, the only remaining precolonial dwelling within the National Triangle, underwent significant conservation work to both its internal and external building fabrication. The Cottage reopened in April 2015, and its education programs and new opening hours will see it better cater to the educational and tourist needs of Canberra.

This year also saw the development of a place renewal plan for Kings and Commonwealth Avenues. These avenues serve an important ceremonial and symbolic role in the urban structure of central Canberra, connecting important places such as Parliament House, City Hill and Russell. The current condition of the avenues does not reflect their significant role within the National Capital. The renewal plan was developed to ensure the provision of a framework that will guide future works and ensure the character of the avenues is both memorable and functional.

The ACT Government is currently pursuing with the NCA several key development projects in which the NCA has a direct interest. The first is the Capital Metro project through Northbourne Avenue, a designated major approach to the city centre. The NCA is responsible for granting Works Approvals for construction of part of the proposed stage one route and of the stops for the light rail from Civic to Exhibition Park. NCA staff are working closely with the Capital Metro Agency to ensure appropriate urban and landscape design standards apply to the construction of light rail infrastructure along Northbourne Avenue and to create a high-quality multimodal boulevard along Constitution Avenue, should a planned route extension there proceed.

I should also mention the Yarralumla Brickworks Development. Since 2010, the ACT Government’s Land Development Agency (LDA) has been preparing the ACT Brickworks strategy, which applies to a neatly defined area south-west of the suburb of Yarralumla. The proposed development is near Dunrossil Drive and the entrance to Government House, and adjacent to Adelaide Avenue, the designated main avenue leading to Parliament House and the Central National Area. The NCA continues to liaise with the LDA on the brickworks proposal and has provided a further submission to the latest round of consultation which addresses concerns previously raised around key aspects of the proposal.

Kings Ave re-devlopment

A final major project is the City to the Lake project on the West Basin of Lake Burley Griffin. This long-term development strategy is being undertaken by the LDA to guide public and private investment in Canberra’s city centre. Delivering the first stage of the West Basin waterfront will require reclamation of part of Lake Burley Griffin, and construction of a sea wall and a new waterfront public space. The first stage of construction will commence later in 2015. The West Basin precinct is within a Designated Area as defined in the National Capital Plan, and therefore development proposals for this site are subject to NCA Works Approval. We have established a Design Review Panel (DRP) to provide independent expert guidance on significant projects within Designated Areas in the ACT. Throughout 2014 and 2015, the DRP has focused on projects associated with City to the Lake.

I should note that the NCA has been heavily involved in some major ACT events that have been held on Commonwealth land. The eversuccessful Floriade and Enlighten are but two events that helped raise the profile of Canberra as the nation’s capital. These dynamic events also encourage locals to become active community advocates.

I would like to thank Shelley Penn, the former Chair until my appointment in December 2014. Shelley was committed to the NCA, and I was privileged to sit on the board with her over the last year. Shelley has been a member of the Authority since 2010, and the NCA wishes her all the very best in her future endeavours.

In closing, I would also like to thank Authority Members Glenn Keys and Chris Faulks for their dedication and support to the NCA. I am thrilled that the NCA has a strong Authority Membership. The NCA team has been led by Chief Executive Malcolm Snow. Malcolm’s strong support and leadership, as well as the agency’s dedicated staff, have contributed to the success of the numerous projects undertaken over the last 12 months. The team has been responsive, passionate and committed. I have no doubt the team will continue to raise the profile of the NCA and ensure Canberra remains a capital that the nation is proud of.

Terry Weber Chair

Start reading