FOI 21-52222 NCDRP Molonglo Group Centre

Molonglo commercial centre and environs draft concept plan (ACT Government, June 2014)

The National Capital Design Review Panel reviewed the Molonglo Group Centre and Surrounds Planning Framework. The recommendations from the first sitting was released 11 June 2021. Much will need to be improved before the Molonglo Group Centre is ready for a development application. Currently, the Framework is in revision.

The National Capital Design Review Panel (NCDRP) suggested many improvements. The revision will take some time as basic principles of the framework have been reject. Particularly, the call for the design to follow the form of the land and integration into the river valley landscape are at odds with what is currently proposed. My estimate is that everything will need to be reshuffled. The changes are significant.


In urban planning, what TCCS would call transport is called instead “connectivity”. Interestingly, many points came out that have been raised by Canberra bike with regard to the Molonglo Valley. Most concerning is the trend to build in car dependence. As a showcase for a future urban area, this sets the wrong signals.

4.2 The Panel notes the critical importance of an effective, well integrated movement network to support vibrant community life and considers that there is an opportunity for the proposal to demonstrate how this will be achieved. Further, the Panel notes that transport infrastructure must be operational from day one to ensure desired patterns of use are established (i.e. if sufficient public and active transport networks not provided during the establishment of the suburb, then residents are likely to become habituated /entrenched in car-reliant patterns of movement). In developing the proposal further, the proponent is encouraged by the Panel to;

4.2.1 Consider how the various movement networks will integrate with each other (i.e. vehicle, cyclist, pedestrian) and with a future network of urban green spaces to form a complementary system (e.g. colocation of active travel links along sheltered green spines) that supports safe and sustainable travel and the health and wellbeing of residents. The proponent is also encouraged to engage in further analysis to develop an understanding of how the proposal should connect at its edges with surrounding suburbs and recreational opportunities (e.g. Stromlo Park), with an aim to ensure the proposal features robust connections that support the broader movement network of Canberra.

4.2.2 Ensure that the proposal retains the capacity for future integration of light rail. The Panel acknowledges the extension of the light rail network may be a long-term proposition for the Molonglo Valley, however notes that integration must be considered at this stage to ensure future retrofitting feasibility (i.e. both financial and physical feasibility).

4.2.3 Ensure that a functional public transport network (i.e. buses) exists and is in regular operation from the initial phase of development in the subject area, noting the critical importance of public transport availability and reliability in establishing desired patterns of use.

4.2.4 Ensure that a functional cycle and pedestrian path network is established in the initial phase of development with clear, safe connections to significant community facilities and key public spaces (e.g. schools, parks and other recreational areas). Similarly to 4.2.3, the Panel notes the critical importance of early establishment of a pedestrian and cycle network to support residents to form healthy active travel habits (i.e. children being able to safely cycle or walk to school will support their long-term health and wellbeing). The Panel also notes that a strategic
approach should be adopted to network planning to provide acceptable gradients for walkability of the network

4.2.5 Consider how land use planning and space allocation serves to reinforce or subvert the dominance of individual passenger vehicles. The Panel considers that there is an opportunity for the proposal to reflect the desired modal split (i.e. a greater emphasis on active travel and public transport) and therefore encourages the proponent to increase and more equitably allocate space for pedestrian, cyclist and public transport uses. ‘Mobility hubs’ where combined parking with green walls, active play roof spaces that allow for places for people before cars should also be investigated (see reference to Nordhavn and Jernbanebyen in Attachment 1).

4.2.6 Consider whether the John Gorton Drive and future East West Arterial can be revised to promote a fine grain, permeable, pedestrian-friendly and humanscaled environment, noting at present these are likely to constitute ‘hard edges’ that will divide the area and have considerable adverse impacts on the public domain (e.g. pedestrians, particularly the vulnerable such as prams and disabled users are unlikely to feel safe crossing the significant road verges currently proposed).

FOI 21_52222 The Panel`s Advice, Molonglo Valley First Session, Molonglo Group Centre and Surrounds Planning Framework, National Capital Design Review Panel, 11 June 2021, 8-9.

Much to do. Let us see what comes up at the second sitting when the framework has been updated.

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