Work on Acton Waterfront has commenced, with Henry Rolland Park (stage 1) opening in early 2018.

Work to create a new lake edge consistent with Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin’s plan for West Basin (stage 2) began in September 2020, after Works Approval was granted by the National Capital Authority.

The boardwalk extension includes reclamation of a section of lakebed for the creation of a new public park. It is expected to be completed in 2022.

In addition to completing the boardwalk the City Renewal Authority are building a lakefront beach with amenities at the western end of the new boardwalk.

In October 2021, the ACT Government announced funding to design and consult on a new permanent approximately 30,000 square metre public park (stage 3). The concept designs for the permanent park are being developed through community engagement and draws on the Acton Waterfront Place Plan released by the Authority.

Further stages, including mixed-use development and connections across Parkes Way, are still several years away.

The Acton Waterfront project is first and foremost about creating a new lakeside public space that gives people direct access to the waterfront and Lake Burley Griffin.

Subsequent stags of the precinct will, in accordance with the National Capital Plan, see the development of low and medium view buildings. The primary focus will be on achieving an exemplar or environmentally sustainable development through people centred good design.

Renewal of the underutilised land between the city and the lakefront is essential to improving connectivity between Civic and its neighbouring precincts including Acton Peninsular, New Acton, ANU and Commonwealth Park.

Establishing a complementary mix of different land uses and activities in Acton Waterfront will be important in creating an active community of residents, workers, and visitors, to help bring activity and daily life to the waterfront.

Changes in planning controls to improve apartment design, as well as changes to the ACT Government’s planning approach for the precinct, through the Acton Waterfront Place Plan and the City Renewal Authority’s ongoing review of the project’s planning and development principles, means the total number of apartments will be in the hundreds.

A key urban design principle underpinning the creation of Acton Waterfront is ensuring it reflects, reinforces and respects the relationship Canberra has with Lake Burley Griffin and its urban environment as a garden city. As a result, Acton Waterfront will:

  • regenerate and improve the area and environment
  • include well designed energy efficient buildings
  • incorporate environmentally sensitive landscaping, engineering and public space features
  • facilitate efficient, low energy forms of travel and encourage active travel; and
  • create environmentally and socially responsive public spaces that improve the relationship between people and nature.

The area in its current state is primarily surface carparks with a very low level of environmental amenity.

The National Capital Authority, ACT Government and the City Renewal Authority have conducted multiple environmental studies and reviews by independent experts and parliamentary committees. The environmental studies have confirmed the area has a low level of environmental importance. There is no evidence of any significant or important wildlife habitat or endangered species in this area.

The new Acton Waterfront, its public spaces and adjacent foreshore areas will support and attract a diversity of wildlife, including waterbirds.

The Acton Waterfront project will apply water sensitive urban design techniques to improve the quality of stormwater flowing into the lake.

Further consideration will be given to wildlife corridors and access to the lake for native animals through the landscape design of Acton Waterfront.

Acton Waterfront will extend over only a single kilometre of the lake’s approximately 48 kilometres of foreshore.

The planning and design of Acton Waterfront will incorporate and take advantage of the views across Lake Burley Griffin from the new public park and boardwalk allowing people to more easily access and experience the lake setting.

The planning of future low to medium-rise mixed-use development will respect the key views that are identified in the National Capital Plan’s West Basin Development Guidelines

This project realigns the lake wall consistent with the Griffins’ original plan.

Future stages of this project will also realize the Griffins’ vision for the city centre to be connected to formal lakeside public spaces.

In 2004 the National Capital Authority released their Griffin Legacy document which proposed that the West Basin of the lake should be reshaped to the original Griffin alignment. This proposal was incorporated in the National Capital Plan through statutory amendments passed by both houses of Federal Parliament in 2006.

The current Acton Waterfront project area is predominately surface car-parking and underutilised low-quality public spaces.

Once completed Acton Waterfront will have as its key feature a high-quality public park adjacent to the foreshore. This is in addition to the other public spaces that will be included in future development stages.

Acton Waterfront will incorporate high-quality public spaces and facilities including a new jetty, picnic and toilet facilities and small pavillions for low-key uses such as cafes and equipment hire.

Temporary public toilets will be provided during the construction of the boardwalk extension.

Further inclusions will be investigated throughout public consultation for the Acton Waterfront park.

Yes, a car parking plan will be developed to ensure there is an adequate supply of public parking for people visiting the waterfront once it is completed.

A formal tree assessment by a specialist independent arborist assessed that most of the existing trees were in poor condition. A small number of trees (approximately 10%) were assessed as being in good condition. Where possible, the Authority will retain any mature tree that is considered worth keeping, however, construction and land engineering requirements will require the removal of some trees.

The assessment recommended that no trees could be transplanted successfully.

None of the trees to be removed are rated as Exceptional in their condition.

The permanent 40,000 square metre public park will transform the existing surface carparks and surrounding underutilised land through high quality landscaping, new public amenities and events.

The interim park will be planted with more than 200 new trees.

Henry Rolland Park which opened in early 2018 included 23,000 new plants.

Following this phase of consultation, the CRA will share the final proposed designs for the Acton Waterfront park based on your feedback, and submit the design to the National Capital Authority for Works Approval. Additional changes may be requested by the NCA through this process.

Subject to approval, construction is expected to begin in 2023/24. This will dependent on the infill area settling and stabilising for construction. We are looking at opportunities to temporarily activate the area once the infill is settled.

Under the statutory planning controls set by the National Capital Plan any new buildings on the lakefront must be setback a minimum of 55 metres from the lake wall. This open setback area will be developed as the new public park and public realm facilities such as active travel path and a lakeside promenade road.

A range of building heights and setbacks is prescribed by the National Capital Plan; a maximum of 16 metres (about four storeys) in the areas adjacent to the new lakeside park, increasing to 25 metres (about six storeys) within a setback zone.

These height and setback controls are set out in the National Capital Plan’s West Basin Precinct Code.

Canberra is changing and growing – we are adapting our planning to create more connected public space to support this growth. Planning and design of the waterfront park has reinvigorated discussions around ensuring greater connectivity between the public open space and the proposed development. Refining our vision for the developable area of the Waterfront will mean a more seamless, place-led experience for people visiting or living in the area.

In revising these plans, we have considered the city street grid, key view lines, connectivity to the city, solar amenity and ventilation.

The final Estate Plan will act as a guide to ensure future development on the Acton Waterfront consider the features identified by stakeholders and the community as important to the precinct. It will set out the development and design parameters for future development over the next 10+ years.

The sites identified for future development in the area are scheduled to be sold within the next 5 years. Given the complexities of the location, it is not anticipated that there will be buildings constructed until late 2020s and beyond.