Canberra's urban renewal continues to gain momentum

Nic Crowther
Tue 24 May

The competition between Sydney and Melbourne has always been fierce. Now the tension ramps up on a local level as Canberra’s historic Melbourne Building looks to a makeover in order to compete with its sibling on the other side of Northbourne Avenue.

The proposal, as reported by Domain, would see the Verity Lane - that runs from London Circuit to Alinga Street – receive a makeover that encourages outdoor seating and limits vehicle access.



One of the more interesting ideas is to combine existing vacant tenancies on the ground floor to create a food court – imagine an indoor version of Braddon’s ‘The Hamlet’.

The Hamlet was always intended to be a temporary structure anyway. So, as the owner of the site on Lonsdale Street, B+T Constructions replaces the temporary venue on order to redevelop the land, there could be a logical home for the traders closer to the city centre.



Over in The Melbourne Building, Odgers Lane has certainly benefitted from the early efforts of Loading Zone Café to bring laneway culture to our city. As a result, there has been further activity on that side of the city, with the entry to Highball Express via a staircase nearby.

Meanwhile, the city’s latest venue, Bar Rochford, has a balcony that overlooks the laneway through the middle of the historic building. Laneways are hot!


Sydney building - looking all the more rickety courtesy of Google Street View


It’s hard not to get excited about this idea. Anyone who has recently driven down Northbourne Avenue would benefit from directing their gaze away from the vacant shopfronts and horrible brown tiles currently face the city’s main thoroughfare.

Gentrification of this precinct – as well as some further refinement on the other side of Northbourne Avenue – would be of great benefit to local Canberrans and provide another attraction for our increasingly innovative tourism industry.