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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 March 2015) . . Page.. 1052 ..

advantages unmatched by many other urban areas in Australia. The ACT government has made significant investments in Belconnen, such as the Belconnen Arts Centre, the recently opened nurse-led Belconnen walk-in centre in the heart of the town centre and the investment in this project to build the University of Canberra public hospital. We need to strengthen and capitalise on these advantages to ensure Belconnen town centre improves and grows, that small businesses can thrive, that our national areas are valued and that our town centre is even better placed for the local community to visit, work and live.

The first phase of community engagement to gain feedback on the issues and aspirations for the town centre has recently concluded. The government has worked closely with community groups, particularly the Belconnen Community Council, to ensure the community are well informed on the progress, that we are well informed of community issues and that ongoing conversations about these key issues are effective and meaningful.

Over 80 individual submissions have been received during the initial engagement period, providing valuable evidence of the issues we need to address. These include: improving the safety and convenience of cycle and pedestrian connections across the town centre, particularly from Belconnen Way to the lake; the reuse of the former Joynton Smith busway as a cycleway; better cycle connections to the University of Canberra; better provision and location of car parking; better quality of town centre public realm, including issues such as children’s playgrounds and public toilets; and the need to create destinations, particularly along Emu Bank. While there is a variety of opinion on building heights—the general consensus is that the additional height and residential population in the town centre is good—we need clearer controls on height, and ways to achieve quality building design and public realm outcomes.

Based on the feedback we have received, we quickly find out that the town centre has great opportunities, but it also faces considerable challenges. The development of a renewed Belconnen town centre master plan will provide clear planning principles and strategies to inform the future development and character of the existing town centre. The preparation of this master plan will assure that future challenges and opportunities are effectively met. Strategies being investigated to address a range of issues include ensuring anchor employment is maintained in the town centre to support the local economy, considering where the public realm and amenity requires improvement and considering new options for its effective delivery, improving connections for pedestrians and cyclists and in doing so taking away the focus from cars, and encouraging the creation of active and attractive town centre destinations such as Bunda Street in the city or the Kingston foreshore.

Belconnen should be a desirable destination of choice for socialising, recreation, shopping and dining. We are improving employment diversity by promoting the opportunities presented by the relationship with the University of Canberra, the AIS, Calvary hospital and the proposed university hospital and the town centre.

It is for these reasons that the University of Canberra Amendment Bill 2015 and, as foreshadowed by the Chief Minister, further changes to land planning and unit titling which will be brought to this place before June this year are so important at this time.

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