Belconnen Town Centre upgrades: comments closed

Changes to the Belconnen Town Centre are afoot. The urban planning review for Belconnen foreshores started in December 2020. The urban space around Westfield will be made a nicer place for people – creating place. Further information on YourSay. Getting good bike paths past Westfield in Belconnen have to be a priority.

History

Belconnen existed way back in 1974. Admittedly, it was pretty bare. It all started with a lake and a strange looking government building. Westfield Centre followed with only cars in mind! Allowing Westfield to enter the playing field turned out to be a decision with real and lasting consequences for urban planning in Belconnen Town Centre.

ACT Labor 2016 Election Belconnen Bikeway
2016 ACT Election poster: Third time lucky. Perhaps in 2021, the Belconnen Bikeway along Benjamin Way will move forward. ACT Labor 2016  ACT Election Belconnen Bikeway

The scope

There are four open spaces that can be connected up in an otherwise rather crowded town centre. Further, the link to the university could be improved.

Emu Inlet Park

A park on the intersection of Benjamin Way and Emu Bank on the foreshore Lake Ginninderra. Currently closed to construction, this park is still a bit dull. Having said that, it has the best lake views and good connections around the lake.

Belconnen Arts Centre, Emu Bank, Lake Ginninderra, Belconnen, ACT, Australia
Belconnen Arts Centre, Emu Bank, Lake Ginninderra, Belconnen

Margaret Timpson Park

Margaret Timpson Park is past its glory days in the 80s when they partied here. Now it looks rather grey. Colour would help. People do not feel safe walking here despite being  under the eyes of The Sentinel. Elections here are exciting with shoppers running the gauntlet between waiving party faithfuls.

Margaret Timpson Park, ArchivesACT, (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Margaret Timpson Park with Westfield through the gates, ArchivesACT, (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Circus area

If you have been to the circus in Belconnen you would know this area. Most of the time it is just a bare, gravel circular area north of Westfield. It is hard to know what to do with this as it is moated by roads. A Priority Crossing for the Belconnen Bikeway is certainly a must.

On a personal side note, riding to Westfield if you don’t have much to buy is fun… until you hit Westfield. That’s when you start feeling like a Martian and when you encounter loads of people who are clearly in a hurry to get to or to leave the shops!

Main Community Route (MCR), Belconnen Bikeway, Belconnen, Canberra
Circus area on the left. Main Community Route (MCR), Belconnen Bikeway, Belconnen, Canberra

Lathlain Street

Lathlain Street has now been dubbed Eat Street. Westfield is separated from the Belconnen industrial area on the hill by nothing more than a green strip of land (demolished police, ambulance and fire station) that extends all the way to the Belconnen Bus Depot. Currently, not pretty, but it could be. Belconnen Town Centre is not flat but a step up of about 8 m above Benjamin Way.

Lathlain Street, east of Westfield, Belconnen, ACT, Australia

Cycling connections

Belconnen Bikeway runs from Florey to Westfield, past the circus area, and then along Emu Bank.

Main Community Route (MCR), Belconnen Bikeway, Belconnen, Canberra
Main Community Route (MCR), Belconnen Bikeway, Belconnen, Canberra

A connecting bike cycle path along Benjamin Way, along the low road, past Westfield (see photo below) is missing. This is also the case along the high road, Lathlain Street (Eat Street). Both are Main Community Routes to CBR Cycleway C5 via Aranda. These bikeways were promised during the 2016 ACT Election and have since been dropped. Time to put it on the map again. 😉 And for poor pedestrians to get grumpy when you ring the bell to get past them on the shared path.

Intersection, Emu Bank, Belconnen Arts Centre, Lake Ginninderra, ACT, Australia
Looking towards Westfield on Benjamin Way. Intersection, Emu Bank, Belconnen Arts Centre, Lake Ginninderra

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