CHC’s new community at Downer will take pride of place on the former Downer school site, located on Bradfield, Melba and Frencham streets. This long-awaited vision will deliver a new and vibrant precinct to North Canberra while preserving and honouring an important part of the suburb’s history.
CHC has worked closely with the Downer community since 2011 on a development proposal which delivers strong outcomes for CHC, Downer residents and the wider Canberra community.
Stage one will include 37 two and three bedroom townhouses, brought together by shared open space to complement the Inner North landscape. Superbly designed by AMC Architecture, the team behind many award-winning Canberra developments, every inch of these homes are beautifully appointed with quality fixtures and fittings.
The three bedroom townhouses are generously proportioned consisting of spacious bedrooms, a study, ensuite, a generous courtyard with garden beds and a double lockup garage.
The two bedrooms have been designed to maximise all of the liveable areas including two large bedrooms with built in robes, open plan kitchen, living and dining areas, a courtyard and balcony and a lockup garage.
The homes facades will include a colour palette that reiterates the original Downer dwelling styles including red brickwork and dark roof combined with more contemporary materials that harmonise yet adds visual interest.
The former Downer Primary School site has a unique history and one that will be celebrated by CHC and the community in the redevelopment process.
Occupying 32,000sqm in the heart of the suburb, the earliest official use of the land that Downer occupies was between 1939 and 1945 as a plantation for the growth of opium poppy to provide a source for medications in the unavailability of imported supplies during World War II.
The Downer school site was used during the 1940s for research by the CSIRO. Officially known as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CS&IR) Dickson Experiment Station, the purpose of the project was a charter to conduct agricultural research in areas of national importance. The buildings that still exist on the site (Downer Community Centre) were originally constructed as office and workshop space for the research team. In 1943, the pines that still frame the boundaries of the site were planted to act as a wind break for CSIRO – many of the mature trees on the site have been in existence since this time and predate the suburb.
By the 1950s, Canberra’s population was increasing significantly (due to the transfer of major Government departments from Melbourne to Canberra) and pressure to house the growing population saw the CSIRO facility relocated to Ginninderra. In 1955 Downer was resumed for urban development and the suburb was gazetted five years later in 1960. The primary school was constructed between 1960-61 by the National Capital Development Commission and opened to the public in 1962.
The Downer Primary School closed in 1988 due to declining student numbers in the area. After the closure of the school the ACT Government rented the school as office space to a diverse variety of organisations, including Australian Ethical Investment, recumbent bicycle dealer Flying Furniture Cycles, and Canberra’s makerspace, MakeHackVoid.
In 2014, the buildings of the former school site were demolished in preparation for CHC to deliver a new lease of life to the area. The development will assist in reactivating the Downer Shops, which have now been rebuilt and will provide quality homes close to the city and relevant and functional homes for downsizers.
The suburb of Downer is located in the much-loved Inner North of Canberra. Located in close proximity to Dickson, Braddon and Canberra’s city centre, Downer residents enjoy the ideal balance of being at the heart of an expanding city coupled with leafy suburban living.