The revitalisation of the run down Sydney and Melbourne buildings should form the core of a new mid-city precinct design framework which will lay out the ACT Government’s intentions for the central area of the city, according to Property Council of Australia ACT Executive Director, Catherine Carter.
“The Sydney and Melbourne Buildings with their Italianate design, eclectic mix of businesses and, these days, sadly ageing state have been the gateway to the city for many visitors for decades now. They are Canberra icons and are now in dire need of some attention.
“The Property Council has been concerned about the condition of both these landmark buildings for some time and we have engaged with the stakeholders in an effort to focus the ACT Government’s attention on the need for this area of the city to get a much needed make over”.
Following a very successful public meeting organised by the Property Council, and supported by the ACT Government, Canberra City Heart Business Association and Canberra CBD Limited, to discuss the future of the Sydney and Melbourne Buildings, a report has been prepared and submitted to Government.
“The public meeting demonstrated there is widespread support for the ACT Government to engage with stakeholders and develop a design framework for the mid-city precinct. That is what the Property Council is advocating and I’m hopeful that this report will provide the impetus for the Government to focus on this neglected part of the city,” Ms Carter said.
“An idea that received considerable support at the meeting was that the courtyard areas in the middle of the Sydney and Melbourne Buildings be redeveloped to include cafes and restaurants along the lines of the Melbourne style laneways which are a popular feature of that and other cities.
“Considerable work has already been undertaken on what the city centre may look like in the future under the auspices of the Canberra Central Taskforce. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and we call upon the ACT Government to ensure funding is provided so that the Taskforce’s work can be continued apace.
Ms Carter pointed to the plans for Canberra's centenary celebrations in 2013. "When public submissions were called for in 2006, the revitalisation of Civic and the city centre were at the top of the list for Canberra 100," she said. "These two iconic buildings should be considered a high priority for any project which revitalises the heart of our city.
“While there are a range of short and long term issues to be addressed, there is a clear need for the Government to build on the current momentum and ensure the gateway to Canberra is one we can all be proud of,” Ms Carter said.