Page 1427 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005

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Guardian House—demolition

DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Planning. It relates to the imminent demolition of Guardian House and the subsequent development of a six-storey office building in Woden town centre. Woden town centre is in desperate need of arts and community facilities, however an analysis of the arts and community facilities available in the Woden town centre has not, to my knowledge, yet been conducted. When such an analysis is conducted it is likely that Guardian House may be found to have been an important facility capable of meeting some of these needs. Minister, what steps will the government take to address Woden town centre’s need for arts and community facilities in light of the demolition of Guardian House?

MR CORBELL: The demolition of Guardian House is the outcome of a process commenced by the commonwealth government to sell surplus assets in the Woden town centre. The commonwealth government sold Guardian House, which was previously being used, I think, for records storage for one of the commonwealth departments located in the town centre. They sold the site; it was purchased by a private developer in Canberra who is now proposing to demolish that building to build a new commercial office development in the Woden town centre.

The future of Guardian House, as I understand it, has been assessed and looked at by the ACT Heritage Council, which has advised that certain measures to record some of the interesting architectural aspects of the building should be undertaken prior to its demolition. But Guardian House is not a heritage-listed building; nor is it a building that is on any other register that has statutory requirements involving the building’s protection.

The government’s view is that the demolition of Guardian House is consistent with the appropriate planning and heritage processes and that the future use of that site will be for a commercial office building, if that is chosen by the owner of the site.

In relation to arts and community facilities, Woden is already well serviced by a range of community facilities, including community childcare centres and the Woden Community Service building, as well as a public library, which has meeting rooms of its own, a government shopfront and a range of other facilities such as that.

At this stage there are no plans to undertake an assessment of the need for further facilities in the Woden area. The government has undertaken a detailed master planning process for the Woden town centre over the past couple of years. That master plan has now been completed and that is informing changes to the territory plan, which are underway right now.

There are no proposals that I am aware of to further look at the need for additional arts or community space in the Woden town centre. We believe the provision of community infrastructure in the Woden town centre is already of a high standard. We are seeking now to address some of the other problems with Woden, such as the lack of safety and security around the bus interchange and the need to improve some of the public spaces in Woden, to make sure it remains a vibrant and important town centre.

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