Megan Doherty August 20, 2012
Aerial shot showing development along the Flemington Road Corridor in Franklin.
Sheep still graze in the paddocks of Gungahlin, but not far away, on the wide corridor that is Flemington Road, lies a glimpse of Canberra's high-density housing future.
The Flemington Road Corridor at Franklin will eventually see 3000 dwellings built along a three-kilometre strip, ultimately housing about 6000 people and returning an estimated $90 million to the ACT government in land sales.
It's about creating a critical mass of people to take advantage of the - still undecided - rapid public transport system and arresting some of the urban sprawl of Canberra.
And similar high-density apartment living is also being flagged for other major roads, such as Athllon Drive in Tuggeranong and John Gorton Drive in Molonglo.
Economic Development director-general David Dawes said the original vision for the Flemington Road Corridor, which encompasses 27 hectares of development, had been altered significantly as a result of community input.
Mr Dawes said the Gungahlin Community Council pushed for higher-density apartment buildings along Flemington Road to encourage its use as a public transport corridor rather than the original concept of courtyard homes and single dwellings.
The changes had resulted in at least double the numbers of homes being built compared to what was first envisaged, with the higher-storey apartment blocks along the corridor - some up to six storeys - tapering down to single residential homes behind. ''This is a very, very good example of government and community coming together,'' Mr Dawes said.
Former Gungahlin Community Council president, now ACT Greens candidate for Molonglo, Alan Kerlin, said the council didn't want to ''replicate Anthony Rolfe Avenue with its endless rows of townhouses'' which was what the government had originally proposed. The preference was for a boulevard of high-density apartments on both sides of Flemington Road with enough varied facades so that the development didn't create ''a tunnel''.
''I think largely that's what's happening and we're getting something a lot better had we let the government go on its merry way,'' Mr Kerlin said.
About one-third of the planned 3000 dwellings have been constructed. There are two sites allowing four to six-storey buildings, as well as local shops, at the intersections with Nullarbor Avenue and Manning Clark Crescent - the main public transport nodes along Flemington Road. Other buildings are two to three, or three to four storeys.
Mr Dawes said he believed each builder was trying to create a ''point of difference'' in the design of the apartments. ''They're competing with the other, so they need to have a good product otherwise it's not going to sell,'' he said.
The land zoning allows for commercial activity on the ground floor of the apartment buildings.
Mr Dawes said that provision, and the government also establishing an office for about 500 ACT public servants in Gungahlin, were steps towards creating more local jobs.
''Hopefully it's a leader to other people establishing offices in Gungahlin as well, so people could catch a bus or ride or walk to work,'' he said.
Flemington Road could accommodate either buses or light rail.
Mr Dawes said he believed ''the Canberra community and probably a lot of members of government probably lean towards light rail''.
''I think it would work well. I think when you look at other cities that have introduced light rail, the patronage has gone up. There is a love and attachment for light rail,'' he said.
Mr Dawes said replicating what was happening at Flemington Road at other locations, such as Athllon Drive, was still ''in the very early embryonic stage''.
''We'll be going out to talk to the community because we'll obviously have to ensure we bring the community along on that journey,'' he said.
''But, again, that is a major transport corridor that actually can provide the opportunities that we'll see realised here on Flemington Road. When you look at Woden with the employment node there and the major Commonwealth offices there it does present an opportunity for people to live closer to their work.''