I rise to inform the Assembly tonight of the results from my survey on Hibberson Street in the Gungahlin town centre, which closed last week—the survey that is, not the street. In August I launched a survey to see what people think of Hibberson Street and whether it should be closed to traffic.
I did this after numerous conversations with people, mostly at my mobile office on Hibberson Street, about the issues this busy road creates.
Hibberson Street is the heart of the Gungahlin town centre. It is the centre for shopping, events, a place to meet friends. It is a busy road and a busy bus route. Gungahlin will continue to grow by thousands of people each year, and we need to ensure that the Gungahlin town centre remains vibrant and welcoming while meeting the demands of our growing region.
In total, 720 people filled in my survey to have their say on the future of Hibberson Street and made suggestions about what the ACT government can do to make the Gungahlin town centre more vibrant. The survey asked people to state whether they would like to see Hibberson Street permanently closed to cars, turned into a shared zone like Bunda Street in Civic, closed off during the day or perhaps left like it is, or any other options.
The results show 74 per cent of respondents think Hibberson Street should be permanently closed to traffic or be a pedestrian-first area. It is clear that people want to see more feet on Hibberson Street.
When asked what the best solution is, 49 per cent said it should be permanently closed to cars; 18 per cent liked the idea of a shared zone like Bunda Street; 15 per cent suggested closing it during the day only; eight per cent suggested another option such as making it a one-way street; and only 10 per cent wanted to see it left as it is.
People also said they would be more likely to go into the town centre if there was less traffic. I must say that I am proud that so many people took the time to engage with this issue, letting me know what they think the future of Hibberson Street should be.
I hope this conversation will continue both within government and within the community. But I also understand that although this survey clearly shows a preference from the community on Hibberson Street, something like this cannot happen in isolation and it will not happen overnight. This would be a significant change if it were to occur.
If you have been to Gungahlin town centre lately, there is a lot going on there. It is also interesting to see the flow-on effect from small changes and how they impact on things like parking, traffic flow, safety and public transport. So it will be important to look at the town centre as a whole in considering potential changes to Hibberson Street.
There is a lot of development currently underway in the town centre with the excavation of the Woolies car park and the new Bunnings development. No doubt there is more to come, including new apartment blocks, roadworks, the bus interchange, capital metro and, of course, the cinema.
The ACT government is also in the middle of a consultation on the future of the proposed site for the new Gungahlin bus station, with the likely location selected as Gungahlin Place between Ernest Cavanagh Street and Hibberson Street.
And, of course, there is light rail stage one, which will also come down Hibberson Street. All these elements will impact on the future of the street and the town centre. For me, the next step will be to get more feedback from local businesses and community groups.
I have spoken to many already, and I know there is some concern about the impact on access from closing Hibberson Street to cars permanently. I look forward to getting more feedback from local businesses and local community groups and continuing my conversation with the Minister for Planning, Mick Gentleman, about how we can advance this discussion and better understand any impact on traffic management and planning in the town centre.
I acknowledge today the great work Minister Gentleman has done on the statement of planning intent released earlier this week. He is spot on when he says we need to seize opportunities for urban renewal and make our city more accessible, inclusive, well designed and friendly.
Actions to improve public places and streets need to involve conversations with the community on how we can collectively make better places for people. That is what I set out to do in this survey. I think any changes to the town centre should be about creating better places for people and vibrant public spaces that focus on pedestrians first.
The feedback in my survey and from my conversations so far aligns well with the extensive consultation undertaken by the minister, and I am excited to see this conversation about the town centre with the statement now released.
The feedback has been great and shows that we have a very engaged community who love to have their say on local issues. It also highlights to me that Gungahlin residents want a main street which is vibrant, a reason for people to travel into the town centre.
As I said, there is and will continue to be a lot of development in the town centre over the next few months and years. Light rail and a more integrated transport system will also change the town centre in a positive way and, I believe, change Hibberson Street significantly.
I hope we can find a solution for the town centre that supports our region as it continues to grow. Hibberson Street will undoubtedly be at the centre of future planning but ultimately this is a whole-of-region issue that needs a holistic approach. I am proud the thoughts of the 720 people who filled in my survey will be included in future discussions.