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FINAL REPORT
Future use of Canberra Technology Park site

Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate
April 2019

FINAL REPORT: Future use of Canberra Technology Park site

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CONTENTS
FINAL REPORT: FUTURE USE OF CANBERRA TECHNOLOGY PARK SITE
Government Decision...................................................................................... 3 Background ..................................................................................................... 4 What we asked................................................................................................ 4 How we engaged............................................................................................. 5 What we found ............................................................................................... 6 Government response to consultation insights ............................................... 7 Other considerations..................................................................................... 17 Next Steps ..................................................................................................... 17

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FINAL REPORT: FUTURE USE OF CANBERRA TECHNOLOGY PARK SITE
Government Decision
The ACT Government knows that the Canberra Technology Park, formerly the Watson High School, is an important site for many Canberrans - whether they used to attend the school, live in the area and use the oval, or are involved in one of the many businesses on site.
After extensive community consultation, site investigations and careful consideration, the ACT Government has made three key decisions about the future of Canberra Technology Park:
• to demolish and remediate buildings on the site, prior to sale; • retain responsibility for public green space, including any upgrade and ongoing
maintenance; and • enter into direct negotiations with AIE with a view to reaching agreement on the terms
for the direct sale of land to AIE.

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Background
The Canberra Technology Park site, on the corner of Windeyer Street and Phillip Avenue, is a public asset that was previously occupied as Watson High School from 1965 to 1988. Shortly after, Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) took over the site. The Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) and Canberra City Band have been the main tenants at the site in recent years.
In 2018 the ACT Government consulted the community about the future use of the site for two reasons:
1. the need to revitalise and renew the Canberra Technology Park’s ageing infrastructure 2. the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) approached the government with a
concept that would enhance their current operations on the site through renovating existing buildings, upgrading public green space and adding student accommodation.
We consulted the community over a six week period from 5 February - 16 March 2018. The purpose of the consultation was to give Canberrans an opportunity to participate in a robust and open discussion about the future of the site and to consider the conditions and options that any future sale of the site might include.
There were two specific consultation objectives: 1. to seek views from the Canberra community on whether to proceed to redevelop and revitalise Block 1, Section 13 Watson as a higher education and enhanced community precinct, including student accommodation 2. to determine how to best deliver the public green space the community wants for the future on this site.
The government invited all Canberrans to share how they use the site and sought the community’s view through a variety of ways, including conversation stalls at local shops, a community picnic, stakeholder and community group meetings, plus an online poll, survey and interactive mapping.
What we asked
We asked local residents, key stakeholders and the wider community for their views on upgrading and modernising the site, including:
1. Do you support the redevelopment and revitalisation of this site as a higher education and enhanced community precinct?
2. Would you prefer that student accommodation is built multilevel to preserve more public green space or a lower level building that occupies more of the public green space?
3. How do you currently use the site? 4. How often do you use the site? 5. What features would you like to see included in the public green space at the site?

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How we engaged
We provided a range of opportunities for the community and key stakeholders to participate in the consultation including:
• Hosting an information stall at the Flix ‘n’ Dickson Outdoor Family Movie night on 10 February 2018
• Attending the North Canberra Community Council meeting on 21 February 2018 • Pop-up conversation stalls at the Watson and Hackett shops on 24 February 2018 • Hosting a community picnic on the site on 4 March 2018
The community was also able to participate through an online quick poll, survey or interactive map on the YourSay website.
Current tenants of the AIE, local community groups and nearby businesses received an email notification inviting them to attend consultation meetings onsite in February 2018, as well as inviting them to provide written or verbal feedback at any time.
The Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate (CMTEDD) prepared a hard copy invitation to the community picnic which also included information on the online feedback mechanisms. This was distributed to 6,700 households in Watson and the neighbouring suburbs of Dickson, Downer and Hackett. The government’s central consultation portal, YourSay, was the primary vehicle for promoting the consultation online.
Particular effort was made to engage young people in the consultation to help ensure feedback received was representative of the whole community. Phone calls and invitations were sent to target schools and local youth organisations, including the Multicultural Youth Service, Youth InterACT, Youth Coalition of the ACT, Dickson College, and Daramalan College.
Each group was encouraged to include information about the community picnic and online feedback mechanisms on their Facebook pages and newsletters. The Principals of neighbouring schools, Rosary, Merici and Emmaus were also invited to attend the stakeholder meetings and include information in their newsletters and Facebook pages.
Social media posts promoting the consultation on ACT Government social media channels reached over 7000 people and achieved positive engagement through shares, likes and comments.
Summary of how we engaged

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What we found

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Government response to consultation insights

Support for the redevelopment and revitalisation of this site as a higher education and enhanced community precinct.

Community Response/Key insight

Government response

Key Insight 1:

Response to Key Insight 1:

There was overall support (over 85 per cent) across the different We acknowledge the strong community support for the overall concept.

engagement activities for the redevelopment and revitalisation of

this site as a higher education and enhanced community precinct, The community’s preferences for the upgrade and maintenance of public

including student accommodation.

green space has helped to shape government’s decision that the Territory will

retain responsibility for public green space.

Key Insight 7: There was opposition to the site being used for other purposes such as aged care, public housing or private accommodation developments.
Other feedback: The Watson Community Association (WCA) conducted a survey in April 2017 with 248 participants. There was significant support for maintenance of green space and further development of community facilities both in general in Watson, and specifically on this site.
The Downer Community Association (DCA) wants the current green space protected from any development and for development to be kept within the margins of the existing building and car park footprint.
The Canberra City Band recommends the government not offer the site for sale unless it includes a permanent home for them as a condition of sale.

Response to Key Insight 7: Community concern about the site being used for other purposes such as aged care, public housing or private accommodation is acknowledged.
Community responses indicated a wide range of preferences for use of the site, though some preferences received a low level of support. For example, Key Insight 7 showed opposition to the site being redeveloped for aged care. Government has decided that the site be offered for sale as a higher education and community precinct, including student accommodation as proposed and, as supported by the outcomes of community consultation.
Response to other feedback: The government has committed to ensuring public green space is preserved at this site and has decided the Territory will retain responsibility for public green space.

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Options for future site structures and green space Community Response/Key Insight
Key Insight 5: There was strong support for higher multi-level student accommodation if this meant that more green space would be preserved.
Other feedback: Other comments received including advice from WCA, supported multi-level development, if it leads to more community public green space, which is highly valued.
WCA and DCA sought assurances that any multi-level development would not adversely impact on the amenity of the neighbouring residential area, existing facilities, and infrastructure/services.
The Dickson Residents Group (DRG) highlighted the importance of the student housing segment in the market.
Discussion at the community picnic also indicated a preference for the location of student accommodation to be closer to Phillip Avenue, as opposed to the oval.
Nature of current community use
Community Response
Of 429 survey responses received online and hard copy (refer to survey results graph on page 7): • 22% (94) indicated they used the site as a tenant or as a business • 22% (94) indicated they used the site for Canberra City Band purposes • 19% (82) indicated they used the site for recreation purposes • 12% (51) indicated they used the site for AIE purposes • 12% (51) don’t use the site • 8% (35) did not respond to this part of the survey • 3% (13) use the site as a thoroughfare • 2% (9) use the site for other purposes.
The WCA noted that the site is poorly used at present, but felt this would change if it were more attractive and varied.

Government response
Response to Key Insight 5 and other feedback: The community’s preference for multilevel student accommodation, if it means more green space would be preserved, is acknowledged.
The Territory Plan currently restricts buildings in Watson to a maximum of 4 storeys (2 storeys within 30 metres of any residence).
Community preferences, and the Territory Plan requirements, will be considered in settling sales parameters.
The community’s preferences for the upgrade and maintenance of public green space has helped to shape government’s decision that the Territory will retain responsibility for public green space.
Any redevelopment proposal will require a DA including both pre-DA and DA community consultation.
The importance of student accommodation within the housing market is also recognised.
Government response
It was noted that of the 429 survey responses received: • 56% are existing tenants or use the site for purposes offered by tenants • 19% use the site for recreation • 17% don’t use the site, use it as a thoroughfare or use it for other purposes • 8% didn’t respond to this question.
The survey results have clarified how people currently use the site, and have helped to inform the Government’s decision on the way forward for the future use and sale of the site.

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Frequency of community use
Community Response/Key insight
Of 429 survey responses received: • 34% (146) use the site weekly • 26% (112) use the site daily • 25% (107) use the site rarely • 15% (64) never use the site
The WCA noted that the site is poorly used at present but felt this would change if it were more attractive and varied.
Features of public green space
Community Response/Key insight
Key insight 2: There was general agreement among responders that improved community facilities would attract more people to use the site.
Key insight 3: There was strong interest in the type, locations and scale of future community facilities on the site.
Key insight 4: There was strong support for green space and outdoor activities, and moderate support for built structures such as community meetings rooms.

Government response
Response to the survey results: It was noted that 60% of respondents use the site regularly (daily or weekly) and 56% of all respondents are existing tenants or use the site for purposes offered by tenants.
This information was considered by government in determining the way forward for the future use and sale of the site.
Government response
Response to key insights 2,3,4,6 and the survey results:
Community responses indicate a wide range of preferences for use of the site, though some preferences received a low level of support. It is unlikely that all of those uses could be accommodated together in a redeveloped and revitalised site. However, the community’s preferences will be taken into account in any future planning and design process for how to upgrade green space.

Key insight 6: There were some concerns about the potential loss of community facilities and a keen interest in community facilities.

Survey results showed that: • 33% of respondents would like shaded recreation areas • 25% of respondents would like seating • 24% of respondents would like a community garden • 18% of respondents would like public art

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SpaceReportCommunitySupportStudent Accommodation