CANBERRA, Australia — Approval has been given for the first phase of the AU$500 million ($387 million) redevelopments of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

The National Capital Authority has given the nod for early works including the demolition of Anzac Hall. The National Capital Authority is established under the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988. The authority performs a special role as the trustee of the National Capital and in this capacity serves the interests of the Australian Government, the nation, and its people.

The authority had asked for further information on tree removal and replacement planting, noting that there were 595 trees in the precinct.

“A total of 455 trees are to be retained, while 140 trees are to be removed as part of the project,” the capital authority’s chairman Terry Weber said in a statement on June 7.

Members of the public visit the Roll of Honour after the Anzac Day National Service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image)

“The authority will require that the Australian War Memorial plant a minimum of an additional 250 native trees as a condition of approval for these works.

“With this change noted, the National Capital Authority has concluded the proposal is not inconsistent with the National Capital Plan and the works have been approved.”

The National Capital Plan (the Plan) is the strategic plan for Canberra and the Territory. It ensures that ‘Canberra and the Territory are planned and developed in accordance with their national significance.

The National Capital Authority, which has published a 1200-page consultation report, received 601 submissions during its consultation process, of which three were in support.

Key concerns were the need for expansion, tree removal, the impacts on heritage values, and the cost.

The Australian War Memorial argues the project will address constraints to the existing use of the building, improve the overall visitor and veterans’ experience and maintain its significance as a national cultural institution.

“The current Anzac Hall is a bespoke building that is not extendable and is no longer fit for purpose to meet the memorial’s needs to tell the stories of recent conflicts,” it said.

“New galleries created will provide the space needed to share the experiences of Australians who have served in conflict and operations in places including Somalia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Solomon Islands, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.”

“Australia’s regulatory framework has failed Australians at every step of this abomination of an ‘assessment’ process,” said #HandsOffAnzacHall campaign spokesperson and former National President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Clare Cousins in response to the decision, Supposedly ‘independent’ decision-makers have been shown to be nothing more than toothless tigers dancing to the tune of their political masters.”

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Ritaban Misra)

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