West Basin is centrally located, close to national attractions with great potential for rejuvenation as a high quality, urban, lakeside precinct.

The West Basin precinct is within Designated Areas defined in the National Capital Plan. Development proposals for this site will be subject to National Capital Authority (NCA) works approval. Given the site's scale and positional importance and recent development plans under the City to the Lake proposal, it is timely that the NCA provides guidance on the preferred character.

Planning policy requirements for the precinct are provided in the National Capital Plan (the Plan). These guidelines are supplementary to the Plan, providing greater direction on the preferred character and parameters for the design of the precinct. They also provide guidance about the issues the NCA is likely to take into account when considering works approvals.

The guidelines are intended to ensure a high quality of design and development on the lake's edge is realised. A range of people including land managers, developers, government and designers, will use these guidelines as benchmarks for the intended qualities of West Basin.

While the Plan envisages new development within West Basin, the precinct is an integral part of the national capital and accordingly any development must sensitively re-engage with the surrounding city while distilling a distinctive local character. The NCA is seeking to promote West Basin as a place that has:

  • A continuous public pathway and waterfront promenade
  • Distinctive contemporary architecture and design excellence
  • A vibrant and diverse community
  • Meaningful connection with surrounding precincts
  • A high quality public realm and landscape.

The document is organised as follows:

  • Vision and Place Principles - Outlines the urban design intent and overall features of West Basin
  • Site Context - Describes the important existing features of the site and surrounds and relevant planning policies
  • Design Guidelines - The guidance is organised under themes and includes the following information:
  • Objective - Overall design objective(s) relevant to each theme
  • Policy - Summary of relevant sections of the National Capital Plan
  • Guidelines - Specific requirements for the design of the precinct supported by images and plans.


The NCA will ensure West Basin is planned, designed and developed as a distinctive, urban waterfront precinct that embodies the best of contemporary Canberra, builds on its history and incorporates spaces and activities that ensure its ongoing success.

West Basin will have the following urban design features:

  1. A generous waterfront parkland activated by a complementary mix of uses, activities and events
  2. An integrated, permeable network of well-designed public spaces, paths and streets that support vibrant public life and high connectivity
  3. Buildings and structures of high architectural quality and environmental performance that unifies the different precincts with the City Centre

Place Principles

West Basin will be a place that is:


  • Engage with the site's context, and embody the special features, history and memory of the site.


  • Design public spaces and streets that encourage and support walking, cycling and public transport over cars.
  • Make a continuous public pathway along the waterfront and connect to a wider network of paths and streets.


  • Define a mixture of land uses, building types, spaces and facilities that will support a vibrant community.
  • Encourage a density of residents, workers and visitors that will help ensure public spaces are popular across the day and evening.
  • Design West Basin as a place with a wide range of social and community facilities for all ages and mobility.

High quality

  • Design buildings and spaces that have a distinctive character and environmental and design excellence.

Green and urban

  • Define a rich variety of high quality public spaces and landscapes that are attractive and that support a wide range of activities and public events.
  • The vision and ëplace principles' outlined above define the intended character of West Basin.