Page 626 - Week 02 - Thursday, 19 February 2015

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Canberrans wanted to live close to employment and services. Instead of single-purpose zones, Canberrans wanted to live in communities where buildings have a mix of uses. Canberrans wanted to revitalise our existing urban areas, make better use of our unproductive land and create a city that truly reflects the needs and demands of city residents and businesses.

These changes, and the benefits that flow from them, are exactly what urban renewal will provide. It will continue to drive urban productivity through mixed use development and regional hubs. Urban renewal creates employment opportunities, both through capital works and creating more spaces for small business to take seed and grow. Urban renewal capitalises on our existing infrastructure and attracts increased investment by creating new markets for new businesses, to service new facilities and their occupants and residents.

We are seeing the benefits of urban renewal in our city already in projects like the City West/ANU Exchange, which, in addition to the direct benefits of the shops and facilities at City West, has created an important nexus between the commercial activity in the city and the research and educational activity in the ANU. This part of the city, which was once desolate, barren surface car parks, has now come alive with people, with jobs and with opportunity.

Earlier today I introduced one of the most significant bills this Assembly will debate this year, to allow the University of Canberra to begin a similar process of renewal. That bill will not just strengthen the university’s long-term position. The urban renewal that the bill will trigger will create jobs, will deliver more housing options and will create commercial opportunities for our city.

Projects like these support and encourage the free and seamless movement of people, ideas and capital throughout the city. These projects play a critical role in attracting visitors from around Australia and other countries, underpinning movement, connections and collaboration between Canberra and the rest of the world.

Just as there are benefits from urban renewal, there are also challenges. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every site and every opportunity is unique. Every one of Canberra’s suburbs and every single community in this city has its own character—a character that we must strive to preserve and strengthen. The government understands the importance of our city’s unique characteristics and natural assets, traditional built forms and iconic landmarks.

Often, these characteristics can be leveraged to complement the unique identity of a place. At the same time, we respect the legacy of planning and development that we have inherited, but we must always—always—look to the future. We cannot let our city become an epitaph of outmoded mid-20th century thinking. We must have a clear idea of the city we want to become and be mindful that this, at times, will require a paradigm shift in how our city works, how it grows and how it changes to meet today’s challenges—but, importantly, to take hold of the brilliant possibilities the future offers this city.

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