Page 3962 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 30 October 2013

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and growing region that services communities as far away as the Snowy Mountains in the south, Goulburn in the north, Yass valley to the west and coastal areas around Batemans Bay in the east. It has to provide for the needs of this diverse population and to ensure that the territory can capitalise on that service role for its ongoing relevance. And, third but by no means last, it has a strong functional and symbolic role as the capital of our nation.

That threefold function has been part of the vision for Canberra since its inception and design by Walter Griffin and Marion Mahoney Griffin in the early part of the 20th century. All plans for this city centre—and there have been quite a few—have included the concept of a grand municipal centre befitting the status of the national capital while serving local needs. Over time, the city centre has been reshaped from the original Griffin plan, by Sulman in the 1920s, by Gibson and Holford in the 1950s and by the National Capital Development Commission up until the late 1980s.

With self-government in the 1990s, planning for our city was split across two levels of government. Now we have strategic and statutory planning functions shared between the National Capital Authority and the ACT government. Those shared responsibilities continue the local, regional and national themes of historical planning, but they do present challenges for the ACT government in achieving unified outcomes for the city centre.

Since the establishment of joint commonwealth-territory responsibilities for the planning of the city centre, there have been common goals and aspirations shared by both the NCA and the ACT government around key themes like reinforcing the role of the city as the national capital, respecting the key elements of Griffin’s legacy for the city, reinforcing the main avenues of the city centre, and making better links between the city centre and the lake.

But I think it is fair to say that despite these shared goals, the sharing of responsibilities over the most recent period has meant that no clear city plan provides a guide for the shape, the feel and the future of the city centre as a whole.

I think it is also fair to say that, instead, the city centre reflects infrastructure priorities that have changed over the decades. It is true that Griffin’s garden city design is reflected in the city centre’s tree-lined pedestrian ways and its low-rise development that gives us views to the surrounding hills. But its roads and built form reflect the fundamentally different Y plan of the 1960s and 1970s that made the car the dominant feature of Canberra life, linking our town centres to the city centre by arterial roads. The Griffin plan was relatively dense in built form, with a comprehensive public transport network featuring trains.

Those widely different approaches have arguably resulted in a city centre without a recognisable core, with limited vitality and identity, and with a city centre that is dominated and dissected by arterial and through traffic.

I know there are real strong community views about the role, form and function of the city centre. People from all over the territory and the country want it to have a stronger identity, a recognisable core, a city heart that they can relate to, gather in and

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