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The past, present and future of Belconnen’s Wintergarden Estate

By Ben Faulks

One of Belconnen's most stunning pieces of land has been sold, and despite the fears of some residents that a slice of great beauty right on their doorsteps might be lost, it doesn't seem that will be the case. In fact, in the short term very little is set to change, but with a few developments on the cards in terms of infrastructure and community areas, the future appears bright. 

The property in question is the historic Wintergarden Estate, and the buyer is the ACT Government's Land Development Agency (LDA). This underlines just how much commitment there is to developing Belconnen and the surrounding region. With the sale only being confirmed on July 14, there are still a few questions to be answered in terms of exactly how the land will be used, but one thing that's for certain is that the estate is set for a new chapter in its illustrious history. 

The Wintergarden Estate's dates back all the way to 1820 and the early European explorers.

A slice of ACT history

Located in eastern Belconnen, the Wintergarden Estate's dates back all the way to 1820 and the early European explorers and settlers. Over the years a variety of different uses have been found for the property, and accordingly there are structures from the mid-Victorian, Edwardian and interwar eras dotted all over the site. In addition there are a few modern buildings too, and while residential development doesn't appear to be on the cards, current residents will remain on the Estate for at least the next few years. 

Over the years, the Wintergarden Estate has been crucial to local life both culturally and agriculturally, and today it remains one of the few country-styled properties in the otherwise highly modernised ACT. 

The property actually consists of three blocks of land in the division of rural Belconnen – with a total area of 104.2ha. The price hasn't been disclosed, but is reported to be in the region of $3.6million to $4million. The Estate's zoning designates many areas as hills or ridges, making extensive redevelopment unlikely and helping to ensure that the Estate remains at least partially green and open for years to come. 

The future of Belconnen

After ownership by the same family for more that 100 years, a sale to the LDA represents an important opportunity for the area to take a big leap forward in terms of infrastructure development, which will also bring more jobs to Belconnen. One of the most important aspects of the deal that LDA chief executive David Dawes identified is that the previous owners would continue to manage and care for the land for up to the next 10 years. 

It's hard to imagine that the area is less than 50 years old.

While there may not be immediate plans for large-scale development, it is clear that the Government body has made the purchase with a few specific uses in mind. Chief among these is the running of a water supply to the new suburb of Whitlam – a significant part of establishing the nearby Molonglo area. Along with alterations to existing power lines, this should contribute greatly to the growth of the region, which is good news for anybody either living near or looking to invest in Belconnen

It's not all about infrastructure though, with Dawes hinting at the possibility of community gardens that will also add value to the surrounding area. Environmental offset is another potential use, helping to ensure that even with substantial development in the area, Belconnen never looses its lush, green surroundings. 

Of course, this is only the latest in a series of big changes that are set to arrive in Belconnen and greater Canberra over the next few years. With such a promising future, it's hard to imagine that the area is less than 50 years old – only celebrating that milestone back in 2015. We can't wait to see what the next 50 might bring!

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