The first residents of Canberra’s latest suburb release, Whitlam, are expected to move in by 2020, with capital works, including water, roads and traffic infrastructure already completed and 500 dwelling sites to be released for sale throughout this financial year. The site was historically used by the Royal Military College (RMC) for live-fire training.
Located in the Molonglo Valley region, the named suburb recognises Gough Whitlam’s contribution as Australia’s 21st prime minister. Canberra already boasts 16 suburbs named after former prime ministers including, Barton, Deakin, Watson, Reid, Fisher, Cook, Hughes, Bruce, Scullin, Lyons, Page, Curtin, Fadden, Forde, Chifley and Holt. According to ACT regulations, a suburb cannot be named after a prime minister unless 12 months have passed since their death, ruling out Hawke, Keating, Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and Turnbull. There are still four former prime ministers, who have passed away without a suburb allocation – John Gorton, Malcolm Fraser (current suburb of Fraser was named after former MP, Jim Fraser), John McEwen and William McMahon. Sir Robert Menzies declined to have a Canberra suburb named after him, reportedly telling his daughter Heather Henderson that “all the good suburbs were already taken”.
According to the planning documents, the first stage of Whitlam will consist of 542 single residential blocks and nine multi-unit blocks with a maximum of 77 dwellings. Stage One will be divided into smaller neighbourhoods, forming ‘villages’ defined by their street trees, a similar concept to Erindale and Lanyon in the Tuggeranong Valley.
There will be four entrances to the estate from John Gorton Drive to enhance the village concept and to assist with minimising traffic congestion. The communal spaces include a landscaped pond that the planning documents say will be a valuable neighbourhood recreation resource. A passive recreation space is proposed adjacent to the pond, including fixed shelters, loop footpaths and barbecues.
On the southern side of the collector road, the main open space for Stage 1 will be the suburb’s first Local Neighbourhood Park which will provide play experiences and activities suitable for a range of age groups, with shade sails sheltering fixed play equipment for younger ages.
Pedestrian and shared paths will provide pedestrian and bicycle connections throughout the neighbourhood, linking streets, recreation open spaces and local parks.