Renewal plans for historic urban railways published in consultation

Verity Lane at the Sydney Building

Upgrades to urban railways, such as Verity Lane at the Sydney Building in Civic, will make them more attractive and desirable to visitors. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Plans for upgrades to two Canberra CBD tracks aimed at activating neglected spaces and contributing to the renewal of the historic Sydney building and the Melbourne building have been released for public consultation.

The design concepts for Verity Lane and Odgers Lane, which serve the Sydney Building and Melbourne Building respectively, include raised islands to protect mature plane trees and provide meeting rooms such as outdoor dining in Odgers Lane and reconstruction to make them safer and more accessible, plus the addition of decorative lighting .

The plans are the result of an urban design study by Harris Hobbs Landscapes, commissioned by the City Renewal Authority, which started in June 2021.

The vision is that the runways, which are mainly used for rubbish bins and back entrances, should be the site of new businesses, community events and be used by people in much the same way as Melbourne’s busy iconic narrow spaces.

The railway project is also an integral part of the revitalization of the listed Sydney Building and Melbourne Building, and the City Renewal Authority is working with their owners, tenants and the community to reinstate them as the leading commercial buildings in the city.

But the first step will be to make the courses more attractive and desirable.

City Renewal Authority CEO Malcolm Snow said the upgrades to Verity Lane and Odgers Lane are an important renewal opportunity that will benefit building tenants, businesses and the wider community.

“The laneway improvements – which are part of the broader revitalization strategy for the Sydney and Melbourne buildings – are designed to help create attractive, small spaces that people can enjoy when visiting the city center,” he said.

“It is important that the upgrades will bring the essential service infrastructure up to modern standards, which will make the runways safer, help preserve the buildings and improve accessibility and connectivity.”

The upgrades include renewal of underground services such as wastewater, rainwater and drainage pipes; repainting of both lanes; protection of existing mature plane trees; new planting at the entrances; reconfiguring pedestrian and vehicle traffic to activate the spaces; upgrading street lighting; and installation of decorative lighting.

Odders Lane by the Melbourne Building

Odgers Lane at the Melbourne Building in the Civic, where there will be space for al fresco dining. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Urban Renewal Authority proposes that access for vehicles be reduced to Verity Lane between 11.30 and 14.30 Monday to Friday and that it is restricted during special events and other peak / party periods to encourage pedestrian movement in the lanes.

Snow said that input from the community and stakeholders and the ongoing engagement with companies would be critical to the success of the project.

“We invite the community to have an impact on helping us refine the design and informing about our proposed changes to runway use,” he said.

“In particular, we are seeking feedback on proposed access times for laneway vehicles and ideas on how to further activate these interesting spaces.”

Snow said the City Renewal Authority would also work closely with all companies in the Sydney building and the Melbourne building to help refine the designers and minimize the impact of the construction.

Work on the wastewater infrastructure will start in November 2021, while the surface water, drainage and carriageway surface work is scheduled to begin in April 2022, with all construction on the runways expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

Consultation is open until November 22, 2021. Visit the ACT Government’s YourSay website to learn more.

Leave a Comment