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    Progress on special planning precinct for Canberra’s main gateway

    Kirsty Sier

    Former Urbis director and head of design at City of Melbourne, Malcolm Snow, has been appointed to lead a series of major renewal projects around Canberra as head of the capital’s new peak planning body, the City Renewal Authority.

    The appointment will see Snow play a critical role in shaping Canberra’s main gateway, including the Northbourne Avenue development and urban renewal around the city and the lakeside. A special planning precinct has been announced by the territory’s government for the blocks of land on either side of Northbourne Avenue.

    Although large blocks of land have already been sold to developers, no designs or planning rules have been released for the precinct. Likewise, little information has been released regarding the high-density residential and commercial buildings that are set to replace existing public housing along the strip.

    Snow says that the intention for the far-reaching development is to provide greater quality, rather than higher density.

    “In the capital of the nation we should be aiming to create one of the world’s most beautiful and functional boulevards. That’s what Burley Griffin imagined it could be when he saw light rail going down it,” Snow told the Canberra Times.

    “We need to be able to make sure that as many people as appropriate can work, live and play along a corridor and that’s the transformation that we have to get right.”

    The City Renewal Authority was established after the former Land Development Agency dissolved at the hands of a dismal auditing report last year. In the report, the body was found to have been overrun with poor governance and process. A Suburban Land Agency, responsible for the development of new suburbs, has also been established in its place.

    ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, has expressed his delight at the appointment of Snow to lead the City Renewal Authority. In a statement made following the announcement, he said Snow had the skills and experience required “to make the city a place people want to go, through excellent design, welcoming public spaces and great events”.

    As well as his roles at Urbis and City of Melbourne, Snow has previously worked on major city revitalisation projects throughout Asia, Britain and Australia. From 2005 to 2012, he was acting CEO of the South Bank Corporation, responsible for the planning, development and place management of Brisbane’s high-profile South Bank precinct. This latter was the first community in Australia to be recognised for its sustainability credentials under the international EarthCheck Certified Program.

    At this stage, it’s unclear when development around Northbourne Avenue is set to commence nor what it will entail.

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