We're staying while in Canberra (well, in the ACT) at a place called Gungahlin (the reason for this choice is another story). Initially I wondered whether this newish part of Canberra "just happened", but after a moment's reflection I realised that this is Canberra so what we must have here is bureaucracy's attempt to plan suburbia - even though the outcome seems a little strange in parts. This conclusion was slightly reinforced by the fact that one of the biggest buildings in the area is the public library - directly over the road from the Canberra Raiders club! Perhaps this is as a result of the planners attempting to be socially responsible as well as responsive to the wishes (needs?) of the people.
Gungahlin is obviously intended to be a significant shopping destination, but I was left with the feeling that there's been an effort to give it a “lived in” feel. But it doesn't quite get there. The presumably necessary but not-quite-nice fast-food chains (Maccas and KFC) have been grouped together with 3 pizza chains, a video store, and a Chinese and an Indian restaurant (for some reason, close to our accommodation). In the main shopping area, the rather odd mix of retailers gives it a slightly surreal feel. For example, the big 4 banks are all here – but almost as prominent are a couple of 2nd tier banks as well as some credit unions (has there been a socially conscious effort to redress the balance in the banking sector – commendable, perhaps, but is this a function of the planning process rather than the competition regulator?).
There are still some wastelands, but presumably these will be developed. I wonder what would be suitable for this space between the fast-food precinct and the service stations/big-box retail precinct? (Perhaps a government department? The mind boggles).
And, what's that temporary structure? Yes, an amenities block for the bus drivers. I guess planners can't think of everything.