Have Your Say; the results are in

As of 1 January 2018, the management of the City Centre Marketing and Improvements Levy transferred from In The City Canberra to the City Renewal Authority. Views expressed in these articles may not reflect the views of the Authority.

Recently Canberra CBD Limited commissioned a Have Your Say survey, inviting the people of Canberra to share their thoughts on Canberra’s CBD and how it can be improved. Over 500 people participated in the online survey and over 30 people participated in online forums.

Canberra CBD Limited would like to thank everyone who participated in the Have Your Say Survey and forums, we received some greats insights that will be invaluable in planning ahead for the CBD of the future.

Together we have to define the essence of the place – the point of difference. Through the survey and forums you have told us that you have a great sense of pride in your city and you want it to be the best that it can be. You have told us that you would like to see a revitalisation of your city but that this must be authentic and appropriate. You see a need for well-planned development but believe that it must respect the identity of Canberra. Those that participated in the survey and focus groups also told us that Canberrans want to be part of the vision for the future, so we’ll keep encouraging all stakeholders such as government and the design and engineering professions to communicate.

Survey participants also showed enthusiasm for the City to the Lake project, hoping that it can come to fruition sooner rather than later, and commented that the success of Braddon and New Acton is helping to drive positive opinions about what could happen in the CBD.

We think it is important to focus on reinvigorating the older parts of the Canberra’s city centre first. Let’s try and fix the tired and struggling parts of the CBD first, we think the residential extension to Constitution Avenue and the planned new frontier on West Basin will further stress the CBD. We encourage decision makers to account for population growth and demand characteristics and we encourage decision makers to properly sequence density in the CBD alongside the demand for car parking and municipal services such as cleaning and garbage collection.

The millennials (1982-2000) who reached adulthood at the turn of the century are very different to preceding generations. They are seeking much more social interaction, density, neighbourhoods, and opportunities for self-fulfillment. That’s why parts of Braddon, New Acton and the ANU Exchange are working and the older parts of City Walk and Petrie Plaza aren’t. That’s why the whole of the CBD isn’t – it’s disconnected and beyond walkability. Together with the millennials and younger we have to define the essence of the place – the point of difference.

Parking is a common theme underpinning much of the survey participant’s discussion about changes and improvements to the CBD, reflecting perceptions that resolving current and future transport and parking issues are crucial to revitalising the visitor experience.

The survey showed that parking was a key concern and already a factor in many residents not visiting the CBD as often as they would like. Support for change was often tempered by comments such as ‘as long as they get the parking right’. You can read our thoughts on the new parking changes here.

Summary of survey results;

  • Many residents take great pride in their city and feel the CBD offers a unique experience that provides quality eating, drinking and retail offerings within an intimate, friendly and local-focussed environment.
  • Most acknowledged things could be improved. Even passionate advocates for the CBD could see that it can lack vibrancy and soul (especially in certain areas and at certain times of the day and throughout the year).
  • Participants felt that the success of Braddon and New Acton is helping to drive positive opinions about what could happen in the CBD.
  • To reenergise the CBD, many participants want to see a critical mass of activity and leisure offerings that builds on the perceived current strengths of eating and drinking establishments, interesting retail offerings and community events.
  • Participants had some clear views about what they wanted to see change and what they didn’t. A number of suggestions for change were raised in the discussion that received mixed responses with participants showing conditional support.