A balanced vision for the Curtin group centre
The ACT Government prepared a master plan for the Curtin group centre (the centre) that set out a vision, planning principles, spatial framework and planning strategies to guide the growth and development in the centre over time.
A draft variation to the Territory Plan (DV363) is one step in implementing the Curtin Group Centre Master Plan. The opportunity for community comment on DV363 closed on 21 August. The draft variation is now being finalised before being recommended to the Minister for Planning and the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Planning.
The Curtin Group Centre Master Plan was prepared in response to actions outlined in the ACT Planning Strategy (2012). These actions include the need to: investigate opportunities for urban intensification for the centre; ensure everyone has access to a range of facilities, services and opportunities for social interaction; and encourage active travel to and from the centre.
The centre displays a diverse mix of commercial uses in the retail core precinct. This mix of commercial and retail activity contributes to the centre’s ‘village’ feel and style of development. The central courtyard and pedestrian-only spaces play an important role for the community, allowing people to relax and enjoy the centre, and provide meeting and market spaces.
Key recommendations of the master plan as indicated in Map 1 include:
- protecting the central courtyard as a focal point for community life, including limiting building heights around the eastern, western and northern edges of the courtyard to keep sunlight in this space, and identifying opportunities for future upgrades to support community activities and business
- identifying new opportunities for development and redevelopment in and close to the centre; detailed planning controls will ensure there is a balance between future development that contributes to the centre’s village character and the economic viability of the whole centre into the future
- providing opportunities to improve neighbourhood walking and cycling links, including a primary east–west link to better connect the existing suburban areas to the future light rail station on Yarra Glen
- identifying future upgrades in the public domain and western open space, including new entry signage, cultural heritage signage and public art that can further add to the character of the centre as a place for people to shop, meet and socialise
- identifying strategies to improve the pedestrian experience and efficiency of parking areas, including retention of surface parking on the eastern and western edges of the centre, and
- promoting environmentally sustainable design measures in the future buildings and public spaces in the centre, such as additional large tree plantings and water sensitive urban design.
Preparation of the master plan involved extensive community engagement, background research and analysis. The key issues identified for the centre:
- The centre benefits from a good mix of shops and services and a useable public domain. However, since the time the shops on the western edge of the central courtyard closed, community perceptions of the centre, and especially the level of activity, had changed.
- There are limited opportunities for new residential development in the centre; however potential nearby developments such as the Yarralumla Brickworks and the expanding Molonglo Valley could contribute to an increase in visitors to the centre.
- The central courtyard, including the associated walkways and public spaces, are highly valued by the community. The existing green spaces and the large canopy trees in Curtin are also highly valued by the community.
- The design of existing parking areas is inefficient, with poor pedestrian amenity. Parking is close to capacity during a typical weekday at peak periods.
- Connections into the centre are not formalised in some places and are challenging for cyclists, however there is a good network of established open spaces.
- Very few uses in the retail core operate after 6pm on a typical weekday.
In response to these findings, the master plan outlines a vision that captures what is valued about the centre and sets out what it may become in the future.
The master plan will be implemented through a range actions including:
- A draft variation (DV) to the Territory Plan. Community consultation closed on 21 August 2019.
- Opportunities for land release of Territory owned blocks.
- Capital works for public domain upgrades to be considered in context of future budget funding.
- Uptake of opportunities by private sector and the community.
The master plan is the result of extensive community and stakeholder engagement and has been informed by background studies and analysis. This master plan outlines strategies and makes recommendations that aim to provide an integrated and community-supported vision for the Curtin group centre.
The ACT Planning Strategy encourages a more compact city by focusing urban intensification in town centres, group centres and along major public transport routes. It identified the centre as an area to be further investigated for urban intensification, associated with the rapid transit route on Yarra Glen. The ACT Planning Strategy also calls for opportunities for new enterprises to be investigated, such as small and medium-sized business, to be located as part of mixed-use developments along the major public transport routes and in group centres. To help achieve this goal, the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) has prepared this master plan for the centre.
The master plan process included four stages of community engagement. Stages 3 and 4 were in addition to the usual master plan engagement processes to provide the community with more opportunities to be informed and provide input to the development of the master plan. EPSDD consulted local residents, local businesses, community groups, private interest groups and ACT Government agencies.