Acton Waterfront

Acton Waterfront

Lake Burley Griffin is a nationally significant and much-loved feature of Canberra and its landscape character. It’s one of the defining elements that makes Canberra such a beautiful city and wonderful place to live and visit.

Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin’s original plan intended the city’s public street and space network would continue down to the lake in West Basin, connecting the city centre and Lake Burley Griffin. The ACT Government is progressing the development of the Acton Waterfront, in line with the National Capital Plan, to bring the everyday life of the city to the lake.

To achieve this goal, the City Renewal Authority has adopted a place-based approach in undertaking urban renewal that meet the needs and ambitions of all Canberrans.

An easier, safer and more direct connection between Civic and the lake will create a more accessible and attractive destination that will encourage more locals and visitors to enjoy our lake than ever before.

History of the waterfront

Canberra’s Acton Waterfront is a place with an ancient history of indigenous people using its wetlands as a source of food to sustain life. Later, it became home to settlers, farming homesteads and grazing and more recently to a place of aquatic recreation. Today, the Acton Waterfront at West Basin is an underutilised space with low usage. Well planned and with a commitment to creating a liveable and sustainable place it has the potential to reshape the heart of the national capital consistent with the Griffins’ original vision for a garden city.

Acton Waterfront Project - Development Stages

Stage 1

Stage 1 of the project was the creation of Henry Rolland Park and construction of the first 150 metres of boardwalk. Commenced in November 2016 and opened to the public in April 2018, the area had been underused for many years and was dominated by car parks. It is now a high-quality public space that is already attracting high usage as a popular lakeside location.

Stage 2

The ACT Government and the Commonwealth Government have put an agreement in place for approximately 2.8 hectares of National Land in Lake Burley Griffin’s West Basin to become ACT Government land.

This will allow the City Renewal Authority to continue to implement its vision for a new urban waterfront at West Basin for all Canberrans to enjoy. 

The City Renewal Authority will realign the lake edge in line with the Commonwealth’s Griffin Legacy plan and construct a 55-metre-wide urban public space extending the boardwalk a further 500 metres.

The Acton Waterfront project will create more than 5 hectares of high-quality accessible lakeside public spaces that will allow more people to enjoy Lake Burley Griffin. Creating a high-quality urban public space and development is critical to connecting the city centre to the waterfront. It will support a more dynamic and modern economy for Canberra.

This work is currently scheduled to begin in 2020 and includes the completing the final 500 metres of boardwalk and lake wall and building two public jetties.

Future stages

Future stages of the project will include the completion of the lakeside promenade and landscaped public spaces including the creation of a generous waterfront urban park adjacent to the boardwalk that will separate the lake edge from any new buildings.

This important new public space is likely to include:

Future stages will be subject to NCA works approval and budget bids.

Land Release

The ACT Government has stated that new building development will begin close to the city centre before extending to Acton. The former Land Development Agency had undertaken high-level planning for the precinct, including producing a preliminary master plan.

The City Renewal Authority’s focus is on design-led, people focused renewal, community benefit and economic revitalisation. The Authority is currently reviewing the planning previously undertaken before taking further decisions around the scope, timing, and delivery method of any future Acton Waterfront development. This review has adopted a place-based approach.

All development along the Acton Waterfront must meet the planning principles of the National Capital Plan and are subject to planning approval by the National Capital Authority.

Your feedback

In 2013, community feedback was sought during two consultation periods. Feedback received specifically in relation to the Acton Waterfront, highlighted the importance the community placed on public access to the lake. While embracing the vision for the proposal, existing lake users indicated they wanted to continue to use walking and cycling tracks and enter the lake for water sports without impediment. As a result of this feedback, continuous public access to the lake edge will not only be maintained in the precinct but enhanced to improve user experiences.

In June 2015, the community was invited to provide feedback on the proposed waterfront design and have their say on the types of commercial activities, community facilities and events they would like to see at Acton Waterfront in the future.

Community feedback showed that creation of public areas, before any building development occurred, was preferred for this area. The ACT Government listened to this feedback and is progressing the development of public areas as a high priority.

We will continue to consult with you on the place themes and place plan thinking to make sure the Acton Waterfront is a place for everyone to use and enjoy.

Place Plan

Hames Sharley, an expert planning and design consultancy firm, has been engaged to review the design and development principles for the Acton.They are currently undertaking a place audit and researching the place influencers.Community engagement will also be undertaken to inform the place planning.

place plan mind map