Frequently Asked Questions
AIE has approached the government to enhance their current operations, transforming Canberra Technology Park into a state-of-the-art learning and technology hub over the next 10 to 20 years.
Yes. The government has decided to:
• Retain responsibility for public green space on the site, including any upgrade and ongoing maintenance.
• Enter into direct negotiations with AIE with a view to reaching agreement on the terms for a direct sale of land to AIE.
• Demolish and remediate the buildings on the site, prior to the sale of the land.
For more information, please visit the ACT Governments YourSay website https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/future-site-use-old-watson-high-school
Yes, a meeting has been arranged with CTP tenants to share further information. Please contact CTP Reception for meeting details if you did not receive them.
If AIE is successful in acquiring the land:
Significant financial investment will be made to modernise and revitalise the existing buildings and further develop the site as a higher education and enhanced community precinct, including:
- Expansion of our game development, animation and film VFX training capabilities
- Improved facilities for tenants
- All existing tenant leases will be honoured
- Student accommodation built in stages over the next decade or two
- Public green space for the whole community to enjoy
- Additional carparking spaces to meet increased demand
- A flexible design based on input from tenants, students and the community
If an alternative proponent acquires the land, the future of the site is undetermined. There would be:
- No assurances that tenant license agreements would be honoured.
- No guarantee that carparking would meet demand or remain free.
- No commitment to building an educational and innovation hub.
- Uncertainty over the fate and direction of the site.
- Vote Yes on the quick poll
- Drop a comment pin on the interactive map
- Fill out the short survey
- Attend one of the ACT Government led community events, including the community picnic on Sunday 4 March from 11am-2pm at Canberra Technology Park
- Ask your friends, family and colleagues to fill in their feedback as well – every positive contribution counts!
Established in 1996, the AIE ran a Certificate 4 course in 3D Animation at the Canberra Institute of Technology Watson campus. From there, the school grew quite quickly. With the closure of CIT Watson Campus, the AIE approached the ACT Government with the plan of establishing Canberra Technology Park to offer low cost accommodation to Canberra start-up businesses to help grow the creative industries and local economy. AIE began managing the site under a commercial master license that was renewed in 2011 up until 2021. Over the years the AIE has established campuses in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Online, Seattle and Lafayette.
We are a not for profit education institution focused on the 3D Animation, Visual Effects (VFX) and Video Games industry. Part of our charter is to help grow these industries for the benefit of our students across Australia.
We have been behind the establishment of the Game Developers' Association of Australia (GDAA), the Australian Game Developers Industry conference (AGDC), and most recently our student AIE Incubators in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra. We have helped create thousands of new smart jobs across Australia and have a strong record of success.
We have also established not for profit schools in Seattle and Lafayette because of overwhelming community demand for education that is tightly aligned with job creation.
We assist our graduates by providing them with non-repayable cash grants and free office space as part of our industry development efforts. We do not profit from these efforts; we don’t take shares or ownership of their intellectual property or other forms of inducements. We re-invest surpluses to help develop the games and visual effects industry and improve opportunities for our students and graduates. As a not for profit educator, we believe that we have a responsibility to our students in helping them find jobs or create their own start up business opportunities.
We have helped create over 95 student led company start-ups across Australia over the last 6 years and have many happy and productive graduates. We are now rolling out our not for profit "Game Plus" co-working space for student led game development start-ups. We are also excited to be planning our new not for profit venture (located within CTP) "Film Plus", a visual effects and post production facility to work on industry partner feature films. Film Plus will help provide hundreds of job opportunities to Canberra's young talent.
The land is a Crown Lease to the Australian Capital Territory. AIE has a license agreement as the primary Tenant.
We have been on this site since 1996.
The AIE has been managing this site under license agreement for over 20 years. The AIE's National Headquarters, Canberra Campus and Online Campus are all run from this facility.
Our current agreement has a 12 month notice to vacate clause which is problematic as our courses run for up to 3 years. We would also like to start running degree courses which require us to have a more permanent facility.
We have invested several million dollars into the site during our tenancy to retro-fit some of the internal spaces. We would like to make further improvements for our students and tenants including student accommodation. By owning the site, it would provide the necessary security and peace of mind for the AIE, and it would enable the organization to invest its surpluses and donor grants to further revitalise this facility and create jobs for our graduates.
Circa 2011 we canvased the idea of acquiring the land and buildings to grow the Watson Education Precinct with the then Education Minister (Andrew Barr). The Ministers reaction was encouraging of our idea, so we started preparing a more formal application which was never submitted due to a new process being introduced for unsolicited proposals.
In 2014 we applied under the new process to acquire the site. The ACT Government has since been evaluating our proposal.
The ACT Government is now in the process of consulting with the community to determine if there is community support for the redevelopment and revitalisation of this site as a higher education and enhanced community precinct, which would include student accommodation and preserve public green space for the whole community to enjoy.
The ACT Government decided to gauge the level of interest in having the AIE and Canberra Technology Park remain on the site, and its aspiration to build student accommodation and improve the present education facilities.
If there is community support for revitalising the site for Higher Education purposes including student accommodation, the Government will conduct a Request for Tender Process. We may or may not be successful in our bid process.
Our proposal to the ACT government included two conceptual plans to meet the requirements of the application process. However, our plans are flexible and will depend on consultation with the wider community and other stakeholder groups including tenants, students and industry.
We would like to consult with the community prior to providing a draft design so that we are making inclusions and placements that reflect community input. To consult, plan and design properly will be an expensive and time intensive undertaking. We expect that our consultation with the community would take approximately 6 - 12 months and would involve a wide demographic of the community to ensure it reflects broader community requirements.
If the AIE submission and eventual purchase is successful, we would form a committee with local community representatives, that would guide us in producing a design plan to meet community expectations and AIE requirements. None of this can take place unless we are the successful proponent in the Request for Tender process.
The AIE plans to honour all its existing leases with our tenants. We will need the rent money! In fact, by owning the site we plan to invest in the buildings and make our tenants enjoyment of the facilities a lot better. While we have done a lot of revitalisation work on the present site and buildings, there is only so much investment we can do without owning the site itself.
Over time, as tenants decide to move out and not renew their license, we will focus more on having tenants that are in the film, games and related industries, but this will occur probably over a 10-20-year period and will be a natural attrition process.
Rents will increase in line with the present tenant agreements. Our goal is to provide affordable accommodation for start-ups.
The ACT Government will need to decide what other facilities or purposes the site will serve and there is no guarantee that Canberra Technology Park will continue beyond the end of 2021.
If the ACT Government does not put the site up for sale, The ACT Government will need to determine if it will renew AIE's License Agreement to Manage the site or not. Our master lease runs out at the end of 2021.
The AIE Board will need to determine if they will agree to continue running the site under a renewed license 'as is' and with no further capital investment and if they will take up such a new lease if it is offered.
The AIE was invited by Elton to participate in the CTP Tenant's consultation as a silent observer only. We felt that it would be more appropriate for CTP residents to voice any concerns directly to the consultants without us present, and address questions through this FAQ.
No. The site does not meet the necessary requirements for sound stages. We are already using some of the existing buildings to create "Film Plus" a co-working space for production, post production, visual effects companies.
It is currently too early in the process to determine this. A time-line would be established if the AIE is successful in acquiring the site. A development could only take place after a development application is lodged and approved. The AIE would undertake extensive community consultation prior to lodging any DA.
Before we can commence community consultation we need agreement from the ACT Government to proceed. We want to make sure that consultation is representative of the whole communities’ views. We would use a variety of inclusive methods including information sessions, focus groups, surveys, social media and a planning committee.
Yes. We will put in place a planning committee which will be comprised of tenants of CTP, community members, the AIE, architects and a legal representative. However, we first need to gain support from the community for the reviatlisation of the site for the purposes of Higher Education with student accommodation, then we need to win the request for tender process!
CTP is currently run under an asbestos management plan and many ceiling and sub-floor areas have prohibited access due to some residual asbestos. We need to remediate these areas over time and will need to build a new building to house the AIE. We would then redevelop the insides of the old buildings and bring them up to standard. We would like to do one building at a time. We would relocate existing tenants to the new building and then work on the next one and so on until the full project was complete. This may take many years.
Owning the space will allow us to work with the tenants and discuss some priority areas of investment. For example, we really would like to modernise our toilets and build showers so that people could cycle to work. We would also like to explore having a gym area. We would like to build a modern cafeteria in the inner courtyard area so that both students and tenants have access to affordable, quality food. We would turn the present canteen area in the large gym hall into a large blue screen soundstage where our students and industry partners would work on visual effects movies. It's possible that this space could be multipurpose and could also be used as a large community space that would allow for events to be hosted.
Our initial student accommodation needs are approximately 40 beds (10-12 apartment style dwellings).
Our goal in the design process is to make this truly affordable student accommodation that is also attractive to look at. We would not commence the development application until we had community support on size and location.
Depending on placement and how much green space is required, it might be 3-4 stories high, or it could be lower if we can spread the accommodation out more across the site. We would build additional student accommodation over a 20+ year period as the school grows.
In our proposal to the ACT Government we identified many potential areas of need such as: a new tennis court, a dog park, BBQ facilities and outdoor gym. These are just some of our ideas, however, we would look to our planning committee and the wider community to agree on the most appropriate facilities for Watson and its immediate neighbours.
Yes, a portion of the accommodation could be utilised by the Australian Catholic University for their students and staff, subject to a mutually agreeable arrangement and planning requirements being met. It makes practical sense to work together to solve our combined requirements as we share the same street. We would also explore providing the same accommodation facilities to other educators or partners operating from the CTP site.
There are many mixed opinions regarding the existing green spaces and this will no doubt undergo significant debate. Our observation is that the space is under utilised and could be enhanced to include a variety of purposes to meet both our needs and the communities desire to maintain green space. We believe a reasonable compromise will be reached that will significantly enhance the site.
For example, should we build a football/soccer oval with sprinklers and lights? Or just a green field oval? Some have suggested to leave it as is. Or can we use some of that space to build student accommodation? Or should the student accommodation be placed more towards Phillip Avenue? While we have our own opinions, we will take many months, possibly a year to work with the community after we have purchased the land, to figure out the best use and way forward. We expect that through this process, we will have the support of the community and any subsequent DA application will meet planning requirements.
The ACT Government have addressed Green Space in further detail as part of their Frequently Asked Questions on the Your Say website.
At present 206 car parking spaces are provided in two parking areas. An assessment will be conducted to ensure that sufficient car parking spaces are provided as student demand increases.
At present car parking is free and we know this is attractive to our students and CTP tenants. Our goal is to keep the car parking free. However, if we had to build a multi-level or underground car-park due to a community desire to maintain a larger portion of green space, we are likely to have to charge for car parking to help off-set the costs. Our ideal model would be to build affordable ground level car parking and keep the car parking free.
No. The AIE is a not for profit, registered training organisation that runs nationally accredited courses. John De Margheriti is the Chairman and co-CEO of the AIE and has never been a property developer. His industry background is in computer game development, film visual effects and middle-ware technology.
Yes. Students from all over Australia study at the Canberra Campus. Examples include: Dubbo in the north, Albury / Victorian Border in the south, the coast up to Wollongong in the east and Wagga Wagga and Griffith in the west.
Also, students from Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory often prefer to study at the AIE Canberra Campus.
With the addition of on-site student accommodation, the Canberra Campus would also be able to receive students located nationally that are not located close to an AIE Campus.
The AIE is registered for the Commonwealth register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and can accept international students. In the past, a small number of students have enrolled from China, Canada, USA, India, UK, France, Japan, Korea and South America. Student exchange programs with our USA sister campuses are a potential area of exploration for AIE’s Canberra Campus.
The AIE, Australian Catholic University (ACU), Dickson College, Rosary Primary School and Majura Primary school are all within close proximity of each other.
The potential for collaboration with other education providers in this non-CBD setting is one of the many opportunities for school students, people choosing gaming and film as a career and teachers in the area.
AIE is an approved VET Student loans provider. The VET Student Loans program allows eligible students enrolled into AIE's approved full time courses to defer part of the cost of their tuition fees. The courses are subject to a maximum loan cap and students are required to pay fees over and above the set funding cap. Depending on the study pathway the student chooses, the loan can cover from a third to a half of the tuition fees.