Page 113 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 14 February 2018

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live in Phillip or Kambah or Florey or wherever. They go to their local town centre and they are painfully aware of the lack of coordination.

Belconnen residents go to the town centre and they see that the Westfield bus station works well because it was coordinated with the shopping centre, but the Belconnen community bus station is isolated because it is not, at least as yet, integrated with the surrounding development.

Woden residents go to Woden town centre and see a bus interchange desperately in need of renewal. They have been hearing for years that it will be fixed, but very little has changed, apart from the fact that the police station has been bulldozed and has now been left as a patch of gravel. When they hear the news that a huge tower has been approved next to the interchange, they worry that the tower will not be at all coordinated with buses and light rail, that the light rail and buses may not be conveniently coordinated with each other, and that they are going to end up with more mess, more lost opportunities and without sun in the town square.

Affordable housing, of course, is another thing that is not going to happen by accident or just by leaving it all up to the development industry. Often what tall towers include is entirely high-end apartments. These of course are a valid part of our housing supply; I am not arguing against them. But they do not meet the needs of many of those who are struggling to afford a home, whether it be rental or purchase. In particular, the town centres need to provide housing for retail and essential service workers so that they can live close to where they work and not be forced into the fringes, where high transport costs will eat into their wages.

So what needs to be done? For the city and the Northbourne Avenue area, the government has already recognised the need for government processes to deliver more comprehensive urban renewal. It has set up the City Renewal Authority and provided it with a diverse set of skills and responsibilities. For example, in the last few weeks it announced grants to “contribute to the vitality of Canberra’s city centre through place-making”. That is great; I am absolutely in favour of it. But Woden, Belconnen and Tuggeranong town centres could all use that sort of love as well and they also deserve it.

Woden, Tuggeranong and Belconnen town centres are looked after by the Suburban Land Agency, and this agency has a completely different focus. Its job is to do the engineering and sales work required to deliver land in our new suburbs. This is important work, and we need an organisation that does it and does it well. But the question is: does it have the skills and focus required for our town centres to thrive? I do not believe it does.

The community sees at present that urban renewal is being driven by developers. This is why we need an organisation to push the long-term community needs, and that is the role of government. It is not putting the care and energy into urban renewal, and it appears to the community that that role has been taken over by developers.

Jobs are a great example of the need for a different skill set. Town centres really need jobs to thrive. One of the big problems for Woden town centre over recent years has

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