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    Uncertainty as ACT Government withdraws funding for Canberra convention centre

    The future of the proposed national convention centre in Canberra is in doubt as the ACT Government has withdrawn funding for the preparation of a business case for the project in its mid-year budget update.

    The proposal by Italian practice Fuksas Architecture and local practice Guida Moseley Brown Architects (GMB) won the competition to create a reference design for the new convention centre. Their submission for the proposed building, known as Australia Forum, was unanimously chosen by a nine-member jury from a shortlist of seven entries. The winning architects were then required to work with the ACT Government to finalise the reference design and prepare an investment-ready proposal for the centre with $8 million allocated for the purpose.

    However, the plan was dropped from the mid-year budget in early February 2017 with the territory government seeking federal government funding for the project as part of negotiations on a city deal.

    The new convention centre project is expected to deliver significant economic gains with a report commissioned by the Canberra Business Chamber in January 2015 estimating that there would be a net benefit of $2.40 for every dollar spent over a 20-year period, based on an initial construction cost of $433 million.

    Though the reference design, released in June 2015 estimated the building would cost $500 to $700 million, ACT chief minister Andrew Barr claims that figure could rise as high as $900 million in today’s money, significantly impacting the cost-benefit ratio. 

    The proposed convention centre was planned to be built at the apex of the National Triangle adjacent to City Hill, on a block bound by Constitution Avenue, London Circuit, Commonwealth Avenue and Vernon Circuit. The new building, which would have replaced the existing National Convention Centre on Constitution Avenue, included a 3,000-seat plenary hall, an 8,000-square-metre exhibition area, a ballroom, offices, and retail and meeting spaces.

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