City Precinct Renewal Program


City Precinct Renewal Program

About the program

The City Renewal Authority has developed the City Precinct Renewal Program as a foundation for our work. Implementation of the program will ensure the renewal of the precinct results in great places that are well positioned to thrive in a national and global setting.

The program does not start from scratch. The City Renewal Precinct is already undergoing significant physical transformation and growth, with major development already happening.

Much work has already been done to plan for its future and this document draws together the outcomes of our earlier conversations with the community, industry and government, and outlines an overall renewal vision for the precinct. Realigning this vision will require the co-operation and collaboration of industry, all spheres of government and all Canberrans.

The City Precinct Renewal Program is informed by existing precinct strategies and plans, and further distils these into a detailed plan of action with a 30-year delivery horizon. It outlines the current demographic and development context and sets clear goals with precinct-wide targets based on the government’s policies.

While the program allows us to consider the bigger renewal picture as we determine the timing and scope of future projects, it should be seen as a dynamic suite of documents that will be updated as priority projects evolve, or as the need arises to adapt and consider emerging trends and priorities.

This will also link to the ACT Government’s broader infrastructure plan to ensure initiatives in the City Renewal Precinct support the wider delivery of inclusive infrastructure and services across Canberra as a whole.

Some of the actions have already been completed, some are underway and others are funded within the forward year budget cycle. Other longer-term actions may be affected by the outcomes of current actions, decisions by government or other variables.

They may become less or more important, change completely or become unnecessary due to other factors.

We will review the program regularly to ensure that we are using the best, most current information available as we shape the precinct’s ongoing transformation.

The diverse and vibrant nature of the City Renewal Precinct, comprising a mix of places with their own unique histories and characteristics at different stages of development, means that a place-based approach to implementation is required consistent with best-practice, large-scale renewal around the world.

ACT Chief Minister

Andrew Barr MLA


An excerpt from the Chief Minister's foreword

Cities don’t succeed by accident or by leaving things to chance – they require outstanding design, good governance and great collaboration. These elements have helped make Canberra a thriving city, loved by its citizens and increasingly admired by visitors.

They are also the traits we need to apply to ensure that in a changing world it remains a city that meets the needs of its residents and is the envy of people who experience it. Central to this goal is our people - our community. We are a progressive city with a reputation for openness, tolerance and inclusiveness that echoes around the world.

We are a growing city, with our population recently passing 420,000 and fast approaching half a million within the next decade. Our challenge as a government and a community, is to ensure that as our city grows, it continues to be successful. It must be a place that resonates in the hearts and minds of the people who experience it.

My strong ambition for the city of Canberra is that it will become the city of choice – for business, for investment, and for talented people.  If we want our city to be one we can all be proud of we need to take decisive action to guide its growth and manage its development – either we shape change or it shapes us.

The City Precinct Renewal Program unequivocally sets a clear direction for how my government will implement its urban renewal agenda for the city centre. It is an ambitious plan, one which with the support of all agencies across government, the private sector and wider community will reshape the heart of our city physically, economically, socially and environmentally.

A place-led approach

We also believe in the importance of creating a positive and inclusive experience for residents and visitors in our quest to create a diverse and vibrant city centre, one with a distinctive urban identity. High-quality development surrounded by attractive places creates positive sentiment that extends to the wider community.

Great places are memorable. They invite you to stop and spend time, and they provide reasons to return. Place is about connection, between both people and the built environment they use. Great places offer opportunities to mix and connect with others, which is fundamental to a successful city.

In order to achieve these outcomes for our city, we are applying a placemaking mindset to how we approach the renewal task. The core philosophy of placemaking is “people first”. It is vital to include the community in the renewal process from the very beginning and to ensure they are heard and their ideas are pursued.

Local knowledge is key to creating a place with meaning and we will engage with the community to help us build on the existing identities of the different places across our precinct. Strengthening each place’s unique character is critical to the long-term success of the precinct. It will be the community, and the approach we apply to help people make connections to their local community and each other, that make a place great once the physical works are finished.

Placemaking recognises that great places are made up of hard and soft elements that work together to create a quality urban environment. The hard elements are the physical attributes and functional conditions of a place; its roads, footpaths, green infrastructure, street furniture and services. These are shaped through the work of urban designers, landscape architects and engineers. In contrast, the soft elements are what happens in a place and how it feels to be there, experienced through events, activities, socialising and entertainment. This is facilitated through the involvement of local businesses, landowners, residents and visitors.

Encouraging the end users of a development to be involved from project inception through to project delivery can foster community and instil within those users a sense of ownership and responsibility for how it not only works but also supports community wellbeing.

Design excellence

While the City Renewal Precinct is the heart Canberra, design excellence is at the heart of the City Precinct Renewal Program.

It will be through high-quality design that we achieve the renewal outcomes that will benefit Canberra for decades to come.

Design excellence isn’t just about making things that look great, although creating a sense of civic pride is important.

It’s about providing demonstrable social, economic and environmental benefits for our community as we undertake together the transformation of our growing city.

Experience from other cities around the world shows that investing in good design doesn’t need to be expensive, but that investment in it reaps ongoing rewards for governments, the private sector and the wider community.

It can add economic value through attractive and high quality development that realises higher returns on investment, contributes to more productive workforces and reduces management, maintenance, energy and security costs.

It also delivers social and environmental value by creating well-connected, inclusive and accessible places with facilities and services that equitably support the needs of a rich social mix.

Good urban design responds to the existing character places and the people in them, which is why we are applying a placemaking approach to the renewal of our precinct.

In short, design excellence is a critical prerequisite in creating public spaces, buildings and precincts that work for the people who will use them.

We are committed to creating memorable places that people want to spend time in – a precinct full of places that people love, and love to use.

We will advocate and strive for design excellence in how we implement the City Precinct Renewal Program.

We will lead by example in undertaking our own renewal initiatives and will expect the same from those we partner with.

In our role as a referral agency for development applications within the City Renewal Precinct we will apply the same design standards to those who want to contribute to its renewal.

When reviewing proposals, either before development applications are lodged or during the statutory process, we will apply our nine design principles to ensure high-quality outcomes for our precinct that contribute to its revitalisation.

Our design principles are available here