Canberrans love their local shops. It’s one of the hallmarks of good (sub)urban design in our city, which is all the more reason why we get so upset when they’re empty (see Giralang, Coombs).
This is why PTCBR made a brief submission to the Suburban Land Agency’s consultation about the Whitlam Local Centre, the newest suburb in Molonglo. It has the potential to be a great community hub, connected to the school, local bus routes, and rapid bus/light rail. But they need to start thinking about the little things now.
Our submission has some examples of what we like about our local shops, and what we don’t. In particular:
- We like high streets, with shops facing out directly onto a street with nice big footpaths. Forde is a really good example of this.
- Big open car parks are massive no-nos. They keep people locked in their cars, and are barriers to a vibrant high street. Too many of Canberra’s local shops in the last 30 years have this feature, and it can’t be allowed to continue (eg Bonner).
- Bus stops should be close to the shops, where everyone can see them. The Whitlam local centre will be a big block, there’s no point in having the bus drop people all the way on the other side. Further, having the stops close to other activity increases ‘passive surveillance’, where people feel safer because they know they’re in eyeshot of others.
The submission is below, and we’ll keep an eye on how the centre design evolves.