Dr Kate Auty - Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment - 23 June 2016
BRIERLY STREET AND TRENERRY SQUARE UPGRADE CONSULTATION
Thank you for providing the opportunity to comment on the Brierly Street and Trenerry Square upgrade as part of the community consultation process.
I am pleased that the Weston Group Centre Master Plan appears to provide strong directives for the development of the area that, if carried through to implementation, should result in a socially and economically vibrant area that showcases the best elements of contemporary environmental urban design.
I note that the current consultation is the first of three planned stages, and is intended as an ‘information and ideas gathering’ exercise through which the public can share their vision and wishes for the area. In keeping with the purpose of this early stage consultation, I would like to provide comment on the following topics:
- Capitalising on opportunities to engage the public during development
- Showcasing sustainable materials and innovative urban design elements
- Enhancing the transport network to support active and public transport.
1. Capitalising on opportunities to engage the public during development
I am pleased to see that the Tactical Urbanism 4 report was included in the consultation materials, indicating that the ACT Government has an appetite for innovative ‘place-making’ in public spaces. Future development plans should articulate how and where Canberrans will be provided with the opportunity to meaningfully engage with development of the Weston Group Centre throughout the construction phase and once the redevelopment has concluded. This engagement should not only include the current consultation process, but also provide opportunities for the public to physically engage with the redevelopment through community projects and activities.
The ACT Government may wish to consider a competitive small-grants program that would provide modest funding for individual community-led projects, combined with government-designated areas along Brierly Street and in Trenerry Square where these projects could be established. These could initially be short-duration projects based around the principle of ‘Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper’ – community-led projects that can achieve positive change in a short time frame, at low risk and low cost. Public artworks, community events, container gardens, pop-up galleries, performance art and the like are all examples of physical projects and activities that could be deployed during and after the redevelopment.
2. Showcasing sustainable materials and innovative urban design elements
The upgrade provides the ACT Government with an opportunity to develop a street-scale demonstration of sustainable material usage and innovative urban design. I commend the ACT Government for its recent redevelopment of the Bunda Street Shareway, which incorporates many examples of leading practice urban design, and recommend that a similar approach be applied to the Brierly Street redevelopment.
The ACT Government should, where feasible, aim to use locally sourced reclaimed or recycled construction materials to minimise the environmental impact of the Weston Group Centre redevelopment. These materials should be considered for landscaping, shop frontage and other elements of the streetscape.
In relation to sustainable urban design, the following elements should be considered for this stage of redevelopment:
- Removal of curbside car parking along Brierly Street in order to further establish the street as a pedestrian friendly shared zone.
- Waste and recycling bins with appropriate educational signage, sited appropriately given the area supports a number of cafes and food outlets.
- Amenity features such as water bubblers and water bottle refilling stations, dog tie-up points etc.
- Placement of bicycle parking facilities throughout the area, and co-located with the bus stop (i.e. Park and Ride).
- Provision of free-to-use entertainment in Trenerry Square (e.g. permanent chess boards, interactive artworks etc.).
Noting the high quality of recent urban redevelopment in Canberra, I wish to emphasise the role of design in helping Canberrans to live comfortably and sustainably in the context of climate change. Of particular importance, the following design elements should be considered for this stage of redevelopment:
- Implementation of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD)
- Using pervious pavement to reduce the volume of storm water ‘surges’ during heavy rain events
- Construction of bio retention zones such as rain water collecting gardens along the streetscape
- How WSUD infrastructure will be integrated with the possible future wetland to be located at Weston Oval
- Shaded public seating areas
- Planting of trees along Brierly Street, noting effectiveness of trees in reducing the urban heat island effect.
3. Enhancing the transport network to support active and public transport
I commend the Act Government for its consideration of transport networks in the Weston Group Centre Master Plan. As detailed in Figure 15 (Proposed Spatial Framework) of the Plan, a number of alterations and expansions have been proposed for both the on-road and active travel networks that will serve to improve overall transport connectivity of the area. These actions, along with those I have proposed below, should be given high priority. With the aim of further enhancing the transport network I suggest the following actions:
- Commencement of the proposed Frequent Rapid bus route
- Installation of cycling facilities particularly paths and secure storage
- Installation of interpretive and navigational signage, including along shared paths, to improve connectivity across the transport network, including signage to:
- Promote local recreational sites (community facilities such as parks, wetlands, etc.) by indicating their location and distance, and by providing a brief description of each location of interest
- Mark distances and estimated travel time to other nearby group centres, transport nodes and facilities to assist active travel commuters (ie. X minutes by bike, Y minutes by foot). This signage could take the form of on-ground stencils or other creative means.
In conclusion, I commend ACT Government for its community consultation efforts to date, and for its plan to develop the area as a pleasant urban space that encompasses all aspects of sustainability.
Thank you once again for the opportunity to comment on the planned redevelopment.