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WodenThe Coronavirus pandemic has briefly pushed pause on our busy cities. Will things go back to the way they were before COVID-19? Not necessarily and maybe they shouldn’t. This might be the opportunity to step back and re-imagine.

What do we want our cities, towns and neighbourhoods to look like in the next 20 years.

The urban planning decisions we make today shape our societies. Economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, population growth and changing demographics will impact on this busy hub in the south of Canberra. As people have been forced to spend more time in their homes and neighbourhoods, their aspirations for their town may have changed. We asked a group of people who live, work and play in the Woden Valley what their wish list would be for the Woden of 2040?


The Council - Woden Valley Community Council President, Jenny Stewart
The Business Owner – Tom Adam from Canberra Martial Arts & Fitness
The Scientist – Jenny Edwards from Light House Architecture and Science
The Residents – a group of residents from all ages and stages


The Council - Woden Valley Community Council President, Jenny Stewart

As Canberra families have been forced to spend more time at home - first to avoid the smoke from the bushfires and now isolating due to the pandemic; it has brought into sharper focus our hunger for well-planned green infrastructure. A network of quality green spaces that connect the different parts of our town centre to public transport, places to eat, work and play, as well as our residential areas.

Visionary planning for growth and connectivity

Jenny Stewart is the President of the Woden Valley Community Council and has been a Woden resident for over 40 years. After retiring from UNSW Canberra as Professor of Public Policy in 2013, Jenny has continued both her policy commentary and community engagement. Jenny believes planning that emphasises our needs for connection and belonging requires as much attention as our roads, schools and other developments. On her wish list for 2040, she would love to see attractive linkages between different spaces, with greatly improved access and amenity for pedestrians and cyclists.

“As the Bush Capital, easy access to the natural environment is one of Canberra’s biggest assets,” says Jenny.

“In the urban context, attractive public spaces should be accessible to everyone and should encourage connection both east-west such as between leisure areas like Eddison Park and the Town Centre; and north-south between the dining spots in Bradley Street, nearby Clubs and the Woden Town Square.”

Jenny believes that in order to prevent tower blocks from becoming the ‘ghettos of tomorrow’ it is important that urban planning in Woden avoids overdevelopment, encourages employment and includes the design of a green ecosystem. This should take into account our hot summers and cold winters and plan for climate change and resilience.

Jenny would like to see better collaboration between developers and the community to encourage more imaginative design, both in relation to high density development, and also when it comes to multifunction outdoor spaces that could be accessible to the whole community.

Jenny points to opportunities for the community to collaborate with developers to ensure the social future of the places and spaces around Woden. A Community Centre and Art Gallery as well as Community events and place-making activities are a win-win for everyone, drawing people into the town centre and creating welcoming and vibrant public places where people love to live, work and socialise.

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Creating a world-class health precinct

Jenny also believes that connecting the hospital campus with the town centre can have long term economic impact for Woden.

“Woden has the potential to become a leading health precinct with the Canberra hospital, potential for health-related activities to the west of Yamba Drive and the many specialist and allied health businesses located around Corinna street. A new public hydrotherapy pool is also a must. Many of our health professionals are at the forefront of their industries and this is a real opportunity for Woden and for Canberra,” says Jenny.

“A better-developed footpath and cycleway that connects the Canberra hospital campus with the town centre would also encourage healthy living and active transport,” says Jenny.

Investing in developing leisure assets that contribute to the economy

Another item on Jenny’s wish list is the investment in Woden’s recreational facilities. Jenny points to existing facilities that provide a good foundation on which to build something truly special, namely the Woden skate park, the Phillip swimming pool and ice-skating rink as well as Eddison Park. She points to the potential economic benefits to Woden of creating a fantastic premier leisure asset such as an aquatic centre.

“This would provide benefit for the residents in the new apartment buildings at the north end of Woden – like a shared backyard,” says Jenny.

“It could form part of a larger green network connected by walkways and cycle tracks that link opportunities for recreation, entertainment and exercise”.

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Read more: The Business Owner – Tom Adam from Canberra Martial Arts & Fitness


For more information about some of the murals and artists in Woden visit John Voir, Happy Decay and Bradley Street Artists.