Recognising the need for a long-term development strategy, in 1991 the Gardens commissioned consultants to prepare a 10-year Development Planning Guide for the Canberra site. The brief required the consultants to recommend ways of rationalising existing site facilities and functions and integrating them with proposed developments in the context of the Gardens unique natural and cultural heritage.
It should be noted that many of the recommendations of the Guide have already been implemented or are no longer considered appropriate in the form in which they were originally proposed. However, many of the recommendations form the basis for development proposals put forward in this Plan.
The Development Planning Guide divided the site into four precincts:
The key recommendations of the Development Planning Guide are as follows:
1. Construct a new public entrance off Clunies Ross Street, redevelop the existing entry road and carpark, provide additional car parking, bus setdown/parking and disabled parking and relocate the existing Visitor Information Centre to a new building adjacent to the Rainforest Gully.
2. Construct a new higher and lower order plants herbarium, refurbish the existing botany/library building and refurbish the existing herbarium to provide research laboratories, offices and meeting rooms.
3. Refurbish the existing Visitor Information Centre as additional office accommodation.
4. Demolish the Public Programmes Building (north) and refurbish the southern end and existing kiosk for the Visitor Services section and Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens.
5. Construct a new kiosk/brasserie and central public plaza, The Common, immediately north of the Rainforest Gully.
6. Construct a primary pedestrian walkway incorporating three self-contained loops in the Northern, Central/Core and Southern Precincts.
7. Reconstruct existing road and walkway system to provide a hierarchy of circulation routes by:
a) constructing new primary pedestrian walkways
b) reconstructing existing roads as primary and secondary pedestrian walkways
c) barring vehicular access to selected walkways.
d) Limit all on site transport, maintenance and service vehicles to electrical operation or other low noise, low energy mode. Limit vehicle speeds to 15km/hr.
8. Construct a new public entrance, carpark, and Visitor Information Centre in the Northern Precinct adjacent to Frith Street.
9. Construct a new lake, wetland and hanging swamp exhibit and adjacent native grass meadow on the site of the current nursery and construct a new nursery (with some public access), horticultural and trade depots as a consolidated facility adjacent to the new northern entrance.
10. Develop lookouts, interpretive stations and rest areas in strategic locations by selective tree removal/thinning and path reconstruction.
11. Develop the Northern Precinct as a thematic xeric garden.
12. Construct an underpass to Black Mountain Drive.
13. Develop the Southern Precinct as a thematic, cool climate garden incorporating a Gondwana theme, an Orchid Conservatory, Australian National Bonsai Collection, Alpine/Macquarie Island House and terrestrial orchid trail.
14. Develop each of the six primary gullies as thematic ecosystem exhibits such as the Otway Ranges and Barrington Tops.
15. Investigate the feasibility/cost/benefit of:
a) relocating Black Mountain Road between Clunies Ross Street and the water storage tank to a new location along the western boundary, with access from Frith Street
b) a roundabout at the Black Mountain/Clunies Ross Street intersection.
16. Initiate planning negotiations to incorporate into the gardens:
a) the land north of Parkes Way to facilitate development of the Southern Precinct
b) a section of the provisionally abandoned John Dedman Parkway to provide a new and safer main public entrance to the gardens off Clunies Ross Street
c) a section of the provisionally abandoned John Dedman Parkway to provide a second public entrance to the gardens in the Northern Precinct
d) concessions for the design, operation and management of:
i. a public restaurant
ii. retail plant sales outlet
iii. people mover system
iv. royalties from the release of plant species and cultivars to the nursery industry.
17. Initiate further planning and design investigation into:
a) a comprehensive interpretive program
b) facilities construction guidelines for all components of the built environment
c) a people mover system
d) a comprehensive fire protection system and evacuation procedure
e) the integrated planning and design of new displays, trails, recreation facilities and land management practices along the western boundary of the gardens in consultation with the Canberra Nature Park, Black Mountain.
18. Redevelop sections of the No Steps Trail to facilitate access by the disabled.
19. Construct a Tropical Conservatory at the western end of the Rainforest Gully.
20. Streetscape Clunies Ross Street and Frith Street to create grand tree lined boulevards leading to the gardens.
21. Initiate planning discussions into the realignment of the ANU Paleomagnetology Laboratory access road to a position north of the Northern Precinct.
22. Construct a restaurant in the north-eastern corner of the primary carpark.
23. Develop a major childrens garden and playground "The Magic Forest" adjacent to The Common and new kiosk.
24. Maintain a 30 metre wide fire protection zone inside the gardens northern, western and south western boundaries incorporating wherever possible a management trail 20 metres inside the property boundary.
25. The existing security arrangements should be comprehensively reviewed and consideration given to an electronic surveillance system.
26. Redevelop the existing rockery and expand and consolidate the existing Sydney Basin and Brindabella exhibits.