I rise to give the Assembly an update on progress so far with my survey on Hibberson Street in the Gungahlin town centre.
One month ago I launched a survey to see what people think of Hibberson Street, and whether it should be closed to traffic or changed in some way. Hibberson Street is the heart of Gungahlin village. It is the centre for shopping events and a place to meet friends, grab a coffee and have something to eat. Gungahlin will continue to grow by thousands of people each year and we need to ensure that the town centre remains vibrant and welcoming.
So far more than 600 people have filled in the survey to have their say on the future of Hibberson Street and what the ACT government can do to make the Gungahlin town centre more vibrant. So far 75 per cent of respondents believe Hibberson Street should be permanently closed to traffic, or at least be a place that puts pedestrians first. Half of the respondents said they would be more likely to head into Gungahlin town centre if Hibberson Street was closed to traffic. When given a choice about what should happen on Hibberson Street more specifically, 50 per cent of people said the best solution would be to permanently close it to traffic.
Turning the street into a shared zone similar to that in Bunda Street in Civic was the second-most popular option. Three-quarters of people do not believe there will be any adverse impact on local shops if the road is closed to cars.
I was also pleased to read some of the comments from respondents. For example, Jake from Forde said, “This is a great idea. It would be great for business because it might actually be nice to sit in the cafes without having to breathe car exhaust.” Pat from Bonner pointed out that one issue might be that cars can provide passive surveillance, making the centre feel safer, particularly at night. There were many views in between.
Respondents also expressed a number of issues to take into account, and I will certainly continue to talk with the community and with local business about the future of Hibberson Street. 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 and a reason for people to travel into the town centre.
There will be a lot of development going on in the town centre over the next few months and years. A new Bunnings nearby, apartments, cinema and restaurants are soon to pop up. Light rail will also significantly change the town centre in a positive way. So, I am glad so many Gungahlin residents are taking an interest in the future of our region. If anyone is having trouble imagining what closing the street could look like, Hibberson Street between Gozzard Street and Gungahlin Place West will be closed temporarily from 13 October to 8 December to allow for the construction of an underground car park at the Marketplace. This will be a chance to road test the closure and see what impact it has on access and the atmosphere of the town centre.
Madam Assistant Speaker, the survey is still open and I urge everyone, including those in the Assembly and with an interest in Gungahlin, to fill it out.