Public spaces are at the heart of Civic.

Building on nearly ten years of previous consultation and research, the City Renewal Authority is developing a place plan and design concepts to revitalise the network of public spaces including Garema Place, City Walk, Petrie Plaza and Ainslie Place. The place plan will provide a strategic roadmap for bringing life back these spaces for all Canberrans, helping return Civic to the rightful role as the heart and soul of Canberra.

While acknowledging that there are some architectural gems, fond places, and iconic artworks and local businesses within the area, there is clear evidence that with improved accessibility, added comfort and a focus on safety, it could be performing even better. This is our goal.

We will look at all the many elements which will go into making it not just a good place, but a great place.

Project update

July 2020

Using the ideas and knowledge of stakeholders, community and our design consultants, we are now continuing to work through some of the more complex elements of the place plan's preparation. We want to take the time to get this right.

Through the consultation we heard strong support for early improvements to City Walk. Many people told us this space could be so much better and offered their suggestions on how to do that including making it greener and providing more places to sit and linger.

This is why the City Renewal Authority is upgrading the central section of City Walk between now and October. The timing is being driven in part by the ACT Government’s COVID-19 response to fast-track projects that boost employment and support the local economic recovery. The upgrades will be consistent with what we heard during the consultations held last year.

Visit our interactive webpage to find out more and see what City Walk will look like when the work is finished:

Engagement approach

In order to achieve great outcomes for our city, the City Renewal Authority takes a placemaking approach to urban renewal. 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 listened to and that good ideas are pursued. We cannot do this work alone and we need to tap into local knowledge.

During 2019, the City Renewal Authority and its design consultants worked with external stakeholders and ACT Government partner agencies to explore and understand people’s attitudes, aspirations and feelings about how they interact with Civic’s public spaces. Specifically we explored how people used the spaces, what they like about them and what improvements they would like to see.

The ACT Government has engaged regularly with community members on numerous initiatives in the Civic area over the past decade. This provided rich consultation data on people's needs and aspirations for the area. The consultation for developing the place plan therefore focused on specific aspects of the project area rather than on the wider issues that had already been canvassed and noted.

There were two phases of direct engagement:

Part A consultation activities sought feedback on place themes and propositions, and included:

  • Three workshops (September 2019) (43 attendees) - one with business stakeholders, one with community stakeholders and one with ACT Government representatives
  • Six semi-structured phone interviews (October 2019)
  • A public online survey (October to November 2019) (35 responses)

Part B consultation activities sought feedback on the place plan and preliminary sketch plan, which reflected input from the Part A consultations and included two presentations with open feedback sessions (December 2019)—one with ACT Government representatives and one with business and community stakeholders.

Around two-thirds of participants in Part B activities were also involved in Part A activities.

In addition to the above consultation, other engagement activities included:

  • Four “walkshops” (June 2019) (approximately 16 participants)
  • A “place leaders” workshop and site walk with senior representatives from key ACT Government directorates (June 2019)
  • A presentation and site walk for key stakeholders (June 2019)
  • Small group meetings with senior representatives from key directorates (November to December 2019)

We asked. You said.

What we asked

Questions in Part A

Some activities asked open-ended questions about:

  • what the project area means to people;
  • what they thought about issues and opportunities for key locations;
  • what they understood about the project;
  • their thoughts about the idea of “discovering Civic’s new [heart]beat”; and
  • their ideas for what would make the project area a great place.

In direct phone interviews we asked about aspects of the project that specially affect some groups, such as ease of accessibility for people with a disability.

Most Part A activities asked for input on a set of five place propositions that we are considering in the place plan. Place propositions are high-level ideas about changes across the whole project area. The five propositions were:

  • Flow through the public realm
  • Encourage public life
  • Texture of the public domain
  • Meaning of place
  • Public and private partnerships

Questions in Part B

In the Part B sessions, we asked for feedback on how well the actions we are proposing and the supporting preliminary sketch plans reflected the ideas discussed in Part A.

What we heard

People were positive about the project in general. As well as expressing excitement about improvements to the look and function of the project area, they provided a lot of positive comments on:

  • the focus on governance, business incentives and placemaking;
  • the focus on keeping things that are working well;
  • the project being open to long-term change; and
  • actions that will increase inclusion for groups such as children, older people and people with disability.

There was mixed support for some topics. Concerns were mostly about:

  • how external factors, like local retail market conditions could limit success;
  • obtaining realistic estimates for the cost of the proposed actions; and
  • the need for more consultation at some point on actions with high potential community impact, including vehicle movements, public art and trees.

A small number of people saw no need for major changes. They said the aims of the project could be met through modest improvements as the residential population of Civic increases.

What's next?

The community consultations overall indicated widespread and ongoing support for actions by government that will drive revitalisation in Garema Place, City Walk, Ainslie Place and Petrie Plaza.

Suggestions and ideas gathered from participants in consultation activities will directly inform the concepts proposed in the place plan and design concepts for each space.

We are now carrying out further space analysis and feasibility on some of the more complex components of some proposals.

In the meantime, we continue to take steps to make Civic even better.

We have started work on a $1.6 million upgrade to City Walk. You can find out more about this project at

As part of the Jobs for Canberrans fund, our City Place Team has been boosted by seven new team members who are helping give new life to the city centre. The Jobs for Canberrans Fund was established in April 2020 to provide employment opportunities for people in the casual or semi-skilled workforce who lost their jobs or have been significantly impacted due to COVID-19.