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Amended DA for Establishment High-Rise (formerly Air Towers)

An amended Development Application (DA) for the mixed use high-rise residential now known as The Establishment (formerly Air Towers) is currently open for public comment until 9 June 2020 (Block6, Section 224,  Gungahlin).

If you want to express your opposition to this DA, read on!

The GCC opposed the original DA when it was submitted in November 2017, but despite 118 representations being made, the DA was approved in September 2018. The Notice of Decision which justifies this decision, and the 3 corrections to this decision that were subsequently issued, can be found here.

The GCC remains opposed to this development for the following (original) reasons:

  • The height and scale are inappropriate for the location (across the road from 2 storey residences, adjacent to a single storey child care centre)
  • It overshadows and overlooks the YMCA child care centre and adjacent residences
  • There has been strong and consistent community opposition to more residential development in the town centre and high-rise developments over 10 stories, based on community surveys, and other feedback
  • It will adversally impact traffic flow
  • It consumes potential commercial (office) space in town centre

The GCC is also opposed to the amended DA for these additional reasons:

  • The original Notice of Decision was largely dismissive of a number of concerns (outlined below) that are not addressed in the new DA
  • The oversight concerns for the YMCA child care centre have not been addressed (arguably have worsened), and the proposed traffic arrangements are likely to force its closure because of the risk of an accident (also outlined below)

If you want to express your opposition to this DA you must lodge a “representation” online as follows:

  1. [optional] Review the Amended DA Documention and Plans. This is a massive amount of material (over 82MB). Document #81 – SUPP-201732666-S197D-AMENDMENTS-01.pdf – one of the Supporting Documents, summarises the changes.
  2. Click on Click Here to Lodge a Representation
    1. Enter your details (name, email, phone) on the first screen (“Requestor Details”)
    2. Enter the site details on the next screen (“Development Details”)
      • The DA number is 201732666
      • Suburb GUNGAHLIN
      • Section 224
      • Block 6 (The DA listing says block 4 … Block 6 was created by merging blocks 4 & 5 … both should work)
    3. Enter your feedback on the third (and last screen) (“Representation”) . You can use your own words, or copy and paste any of the material provided above or below, or upload other documents to support your point of view.
    4. Click on SUBMIT

Original Reasons (Updated)

Additional details can be found on the GCC website UPDATED: Air Towers Development Application (some of which is now dated of course).

  • The 15 storey height does not align with community expectations for building heights in the Gungahlin Town Centre.
  • The GCC’s Have Your Say surveys conducted in 2014 and 2019 showed a strong preference for buildings in the town centre of 10 stories or less (2014: 80% of respondents) and for no further residential developmnent in the town centre (2019: 57% of respondents.
  • The buldings will overshadow and overlook the YMCA Early Learning Centres; as well as nearby residential areas, removing winter sun and privacy;
  • The impact to traffic in the surrounding areas arising from an additional 290 apartments;
  • The continued development of an excessive number of residential apartments at the expense of any other potential commercial office development.
  • A lack of consideration about infrastructure to support the increasing number of residents in this section of Gungahlin. For example schools, green spaces, pedestrian access etc.

Concerns Regarding the Notice of Decision

The GCC would like to highlight the following additional concerns and aspects of the original Notice of Decision (2018) that the GCC believes should be adressed in the amended DA (2020). Note that there were numerous (39) conditions attached to the decision, some of which have been corrected.

  • “Any future applications to amend this development proposal will require assessment involving greater scrutiny” (Condition E9, p. 9)
  • Changes were made to the original DA (2018) by the proponent after it’s submission (from 18 stories to 16). These were not publicly notified because “the authority considered the amended design will reduce the potential impacts of the bulding height and mass, and that the revised proposal will decrease the potential environmental impact” (p. 10). These changes are not considered by the GCC to be adequate as the development is still very significant in scale and will have signiifcant environmental impact.
  • The privary concerns of the YMCA child care centre are claimed to be addressed by requiring screening on the Western windows of the first four floors of the development, but this hardly seems adequate when 15 storeys of units (over 100 in total) will face the child care centre. The decisions suggests that the “interface distance and vistas enjoyed by residents will offer for protection for the privacy of the children” (p. 11)
  • Further, any requirements to comply with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Child regardign privacy are dismissed as the development “is not unlawful because the development meets the requirements, including the requirements related to privacy, of the Terriorry Plan and the Planning and Development Act (p. 11)
  • Regarding overshadowing, the decision simply indicates the “overshadowing impact is reduced from the orginal proposal” (p. 11) yet the impacts are still very significant as the childcare centre playground will be overshadowed until 10:30am, and that the overshadowing of existing residential units is “inveitable” (p. 11) (it’s obviously only inevitable if the development is built).
  • The ACT Conservator of Flora anf Fauna could not support the proposal on the basis that it proposed to remove a high quality regulated tree on the development site” (p. 12). The authority indicates this advice was “considered” yet the DA was approved.
  • In the final asessement the authority echoes the arguments of the proponents in very subjective terms, inconsistent with community views (p. 12)
    • “There are existing developments and developnments to be constructed within the surrounding area of varying height, mass and scale”
    • “The height and scale of the development is compatible with the locality”
    • “The setback … and transition … is considered an acceptable outcome”
  • The Notice of Decision has been corrected three times since its release (mostly applying to the conditions)
    • 24 October 2018
    • 14 March 2019
    • 22 August 2019

Note: A DA Notice of Decision can only be formerly challenged within 28 days of it’s release.

Additional Concerns Relating to YMCA Child Care Centre

The YMCA Early Learning Centre (ELC) has identified the following concerns with the development and provided the text below:

Example text 

This is my formal objection to the amended Development Application of Geocon and Empire Global relating to the land at Block 4, Section 224, Gungahlin.

The amendment:

  • Increases the concerns raised against the original Development Application around the scale, density and composition of the proposed development, and how incompatible it is with the established local area, for example it is just a few meters from the 2 story homes on Gozzard St. This means residents and their children will be across the road from the commercial tenancies that the amendment has moved to the ground floor which could include a bar and restaurant.  This is very concerning due to the increase in noise and reduction to the amenity and safety to the established residents and area.
  • It also increases the safety risks to child and adult pedestrians moving around the development and ELC due to the shared driveway which allows virtually no space between the two-way traffic and users of the ELC car parks, and provides no footpath for people to move safely around the new residents ground floor carpark that the amendment has proposed. This is particularly concerning because of the large number of disabled car parking spots in this car park, whose drivers wishing to walk anywhere including to the town centre and tram, will need to do so in the path of significant entering and exiting traffic and cars pulling in and out of the car parks in the residents car park and the ELCs car parks. Any accidents could be witnessed by children in the playground and being picked-up and dropped-off which could result in significant trauma
  • The amendment also reduces the privacy afforded the children in the ELC from the development, with windows in the design having no treatment and looking directly into outdoor and indoor play spaces, rest areas and nappy change areas. This creates a significant risk to the privacy and safety of children and is in contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Additionally, the previous notice of decision stated levels 1 to 4 of the development must have ‘no visibility’ into the ELC which this amendment fails to meet.
  • The amendment means more residents and cars will be moving around the development and area.  The traffic report fails to address the impact of possibly over 300 cars leaving and returning to the development in the morning and evening, and parents dropping off and picking up their children (up to 84 children each day) at the ELC, on both the driveway as well as Swain St, Gozzard St and Gundaroo Rd. It states it expects most residents to use public transport so only 98 cars would be using the driveway in peak time. This is highly unrealistic, especially with the research done by GCC about the large number of people who drive in and out of Gungahlin for their jobs.The actual driveway entrance to the ELC and development is narrow and currently is rarely used as a two way entry and exit. Instead cars often que along Swain St waiting until they can enter through the middle of the driveway. The traffic report fails to address this and how having up to 300 residents exiting could make it impossible for parents of the ELC to access the driveway let alone safely park, do drop off or pick up, and then reverse and exit again.All of these streets and roads are narrow and already heavily congested. The local residents are very concerned about this congestion and how they will be able to retain quiet enjoyment of their properties with the noise, movement and increase traffic to contend with when coming and going from their homes. This is exacerbated by all the developments that have been completed, or are nearly completed on Swain St and in the local area. In addition, any traffic incidents resulting from this increased congestion, will have significant impact on the development’s residents, ELC families and local residents as the narrow driveway and roads could be easily blocked and people will not be able to get to work or their other destinations.
  • The ELC has been running for a number of years and is a valued part of the local community. It seems unfair that their children and staff can be so badly impacted by a new development that the community has fought so hard against, and that everyone will lose their quiet enjoyment of their site and home.

I strenuously object to the amendment to the DA in its current form and think the addition of more units and car parks and the façade changes are entirely inappropriate and will negatively affect the ELC and the local community.

End of example text

7 Comments
  1. Gungahlin does not need another large high rise.
    The roads are not coping Now.
    I try not to go to Gungahlin and only venture there when absolutely need to. I will no longer go there as an outing.

  2. Like many developments in town centres, a developer receives approval and then submits amendments hoping no one will object. The height and scope of these units are totally unwarranted on this site and will further create a urban valley jungle, a congested area of living not in keeping with current adjacent business. Located on a busy intersection, a lower rise structure should be mandatory, not a block that will create more revenue in rates and taxes. Obviously earlier objections by residents fell on deaf ears, and perhaps will do so again, despite problems with shadowing, overseeing etc which will occur in the future.

  3. Enough with high rise housing. Please do not ruin Gungahlin. Please focus on the needs for the community not the profits the builders will made.

  4. I am not against all high rise buildings, but the govt. has clustered them into a small space. They have failed to put an open space in the centre of these high rise buildings in Gungahlin (providing a safe leisure and play place for residents) and failed to provide adequate parking for visitors. Infinity Towers is a good example, when I visit friends I have to park in the Doctors parking across the road as the small area provided is usually full. Also there has been arguments between visitors and staff at the child care centre. The roads in the apartment area are narrow and not suitable for large volumes of traffic. I am angry that these apartments have been allowed to be built overlooking child care centres, such a mess in the planning of this area.
    I don’t believe anything will change with this development as the Barr govt. and developers will do as they please.

  5. I am most dismayed with the current DA proposal. I enjoy living in this Gungahlin precinct. The prospect of yet more apartments, with the attendant parking and access issues is appalling. As well, yet more apartments adds to the oversupply of apartments, which contributes to the devaluing of apartments as a whole. Those of us with an investment property, for our superannuation, are horrified at the constant loss of value of our investment, due to the chronic oversupply. The original idea of having government and office buildings to provide local employmnet is a much better prospect.

  6. As a childcare worker myself, i cannot believe this is potentially happening. Foe the health, safety and well being of the children, the construction should not continue.

    Further more, why is there a need to group all the high rise apartments together? Why not spread them out. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to buy or rent an apartment that looks at the block next to me.

  7. I am against this development.

    As a parent it upsets me to think so many people will have access to watching over a childcare centre.

    A high rise like this will overshadow the child care and surrounds.

    I don’t believe there is such a demand for apartments in Gungahlin.

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