Politics

Russia embassy plan cancellation sparks Moscow to seek legal advice

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Russia is considering legal action over the decision by Australian planning authorities to scuttle its plan for the construction of a new Russian embassy close to Parliament House.

The National Capital Authority, the federal government body responsible for planning in parts of Canberra, terminated Russia’s lease on the site due to a lack of construction activity, in line with its “use it or lose it” policy.

The National Capital Authority terminated Russia’s lease on the site of its new embassy in Yarralumla. It remains unfinished after more than ten years. Pictured here in November last year.

The National Capital Authority terminated Russia’s lease on the site of its new embassy in Yarralumla. It remains unfinished after more than ten years. Pictured here in November last year.Credit:Google

Chief executive Sally Barnes said the Russian Federation had purchased rights to the premium block in 2008 with the intention of building a new embassy and while initial works had commenced, it had sat as an unfinished building site “for many years now”.

“Ongoing unfinished works detract from the overall aesthetic, importance and dignity of the area reserved for diplomatic missions and foreign representation in the National Capital,” she said.

“With limited blocks currently available for diplomatic purposes, unless a country can demonstrate a willingness and ability to develop the site, the NCA supports a policy of ‘use it or lose it’.”

Russia had been seeking to build a new embassy in the Canberra suburb of Yarralumla, where the bulk of diplomatic missions are located, to replace their existing site in the nearby suburb of Griffith.

This aerial image from February shows Russia’s unfinished site in Yarralumla occupies prime land near Parliament House.

This aerial image from February shows Russia’s unfinished site in Yarralumla occupies prime land near Parliament House.Credit:ACT Government Maps, GDA2020 data

As part of the lease, Russia had agreed to finish the new embassy within three years.

In a statement, the Russian embassy said it would seek legal advice “on the unprecedented and highly unwelcome move by the NCA”.



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