DA for Blocks 2&3 Section 227 Approved

The Development Application (DA) for a “mixed use” development of 152 units adjacent to the Gungahlin Club (Blocks 2&3 Section 227) has been partially approved (see below). This development is being marketed and sold as Sierra Gungahlin.

The GCC’s representation against this DA noted that:

  • the development is described as a mixed-use, but the quantity and size of non-residential spaces is extremely small, ie. it’s not very mixed
  • The “lifestyle podium” is only likely to be activated and be a net contribution to the vibrancy of the town centre if there are sufficient commercial/retail tenancies (cafes, restaurants, etc.) to attract residents up onto the podium
  • varying the lease to allow mixed-use seems unnecessary given how many other sites with the town centre are (or will be as a result of DV364) zoned CZ5 (mixed-use)
  • the proposed lease variation removes the obligation for a portion of car spaces on the site to be made public, reducing the overall pool of public car spaces in the town centre
  • many of the recommendations of the Design Review Panel were not actioned

The Notice of Decision indicates the DA is partially approved, because the application to remove the public car parking provisions in the lease was refused. Additional comments included the following:

The key issues with the proposal identified during the assessment included concerns that the development did not provide sufficient active frontage to Efkarpidis and Kate Crace Streets, that the development lacked a suitable address to The Valley Avenue and concerns with the extent of off-form concrete. It is noted that the lessee had previously tried to secure a tenant for a commercial office development on this site but was not successful.

Following a further information request, the applicant lodged an amendment application (S144C and S144E) which reduced the extent of off-form concrete, increased the commercial tenancies fronting onto Efkarpidis Street and improved the presentation to The Valley Avenue. These changes were considered acceptable.

The site constraints, including the level variation, the viability of commercial space at this location and Territory Plan requirements influenced the design outcome, including live/work units opening off public courtyard spaces at the first-floor level. This form of commercial space is not widely offered in the Gungahlin Town Centre and will add to the diversity of commercial space in the area, while providing flexibility of use and satisfying Territory Plan requirements.

The reference to S144C and S144E above is important, as these sections of the Planning Act allow changes to be made by the proponent to the DA as part of the DA’s evaluation which are not publicly notified. The original DA only included two (2) commercial tenancies by the DA as approved now includes six (6) small tenancies (one of 150m2, the rest less then 100m2, ) as indicated in the plans below. Light Blue indicates a commercial tenancy, and the red markings indicate the amendments – click on the images to get a higher resolution PDF.

Block 3 Section 227 – Floorplan Level 1

Block 3 Section 227 – Floorplan Ground

Block 3 Section 227 – Elevation

GCC Budget Consultation Submissions

The ACT Government undertakes a public consultation as part of preparing each ACT budget. The budget for FY21-22 will be announced on 31 August 2021 and the FY21-22 consultation has recently closed.  The GCC’s submission reflects the issues we highlighted leading into the 2020 ACT Election, and have been advocating for during 2021 (mostly focussed on the town centre). The GCC also participated in a joint submission regarding community services in Gungahlin with Northside Community Service, Barnardos Australia and Canberra Police Community Youth Club (PCYC).

GCC Submission

Download (PDF, 611KB)

Joint Submission on Community Services in Gungahlin

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Reconsidered DA for The Establishment Approved

The reconsidered Development Application (DA) for the high-rise residential project known as The Establishment (formerly Air Towers) has been approved (with a long list of conditions). The GCC does not support this development and is very disappointed with this outcome.

What’s Going on With all the Work Being Done at The Establishment site ? provides a summary of the history of this development.

The Notice of Decision and the 60 page detailed attachment for the Reconsidered DA includes the following comments – key points underlined:

The original decision is amended as above because the revised proposal as provided by the applicant for reconsideration demonstrated that subject to the conditions of approval imposed in Attachment A, the proposal is not inconsistent with the Territory Plan.
The decision has been revised as a result of an application for reconsideration in accordance with Section 191 of the Planning and Development Act 2007 (Act).

Key issues identified in the assessment of the Reconsideration proposal are whether the proposed amendments results in a development that is substantially the same as the approved development as required by S198(6) of the Act, building appearance, amenity of future residents with increased yield, interface with adjoining childcare centre, ease of conversion of adaptable units, landscaping, resident access to on-site communal spaces, bicycle parking, noise mitigation measures, leasing and compliance with relevant entity requirements. The planning and land authority sought further information from the applicant to address these issues.

Consequently, the applicant submitted further information to address the above issues which revised the proposal generally as per the approved development. It is considered that after the amendment, the development approved will be substantially the same as the development for which approval was originally given.

In other words – Because the proposal is roughly the same as the DA approved in 2018 (which was a very poor decision with an associated very poor Notice of Decision), and it was consistent with the current Territory Plan (which is known and acknowledged to be broken), the proposal has been approved.

As noted above, the GCC is very disappointed with this outcome.

District Planning for Gungahlin Goes Online (ACT Planning System Reform)

District Planning for Gungahlin Goes Online (ACT Planning System Reform)

The ACT Planning System Review and Reform Project is a significant overhaul of the ACT Planning System. One of the changes proposed in the Reform is the concept of district planning and a district planning workshop for Gungahlin was held on 15 June (see District Planning in Gungahlin) – from which a listening report  has been produced.

The district planning process is now online for all residents to make a contribution until 18 July.

The online consultation begins with an overview of the aims of district planning and then asks for input across the five themes of the overall ACT Planning strategy as they apply to Gungahlin. The five themes are:

  • Compact and Efficient City
  • Diverse Canberra
  • Sustainable and Resilient Territory
  • Liveable Canberra
  • Accessible Canberra

For each theme there are a series of questions of questions to guide your response, and a map to indicate where your comments apply.

You should also review the Gungahlin District Information and the Gungahlin District Maps as they contain some crucial details about current planning policy, including (for example) where increased residential development is targeted (see the consolidated policy map).

Gungalin District Land Use Zones

Gungahlin District Natural Environment

Gungahlin District Consolidated Policy Plan

ACT Planning Reform

Three key issue being addressed by the Planning Reform project are (Planning System Review Overview, p. 16):

  1. The current system does not adequately accommodate consideration of design quality or development appropriateness, putting at risk the valued character of Canberra and its suburbs.
  2. The disconnect between strategic and statutory planning means the system is not well placed to address future planning challenges and aspirations of the long-term Planning Strategy.
  3. These issues, along with the general complexity of the system, is compromising the community’s confidence in the system and their ability to fully participate in planning and development.

District Planning

One of the proposed elements of the new planning system is the concept of district planning and district plans. The purpose of district plans, as described by EPSDD, is to “fill a gap in the current planning system” that presently exists between city-scale strategic documents (e.g. the ACT Planning Strategy 2018) and suburb-level planning (e.g. precinct codes in the Territory Plan).

The stated benefits of district plans are as follows:

  • Improves line-of-sight from Planning Strategy through to the Territory Plan.
  • Fills gaps between higher-level strategies, and their implementation through the statutory controls of the Territory Plan.
  • Includes current information about districts, including what is proposed in endorsed policy and strategy.
  • Sets future direction for districts around planning elements in consideration of how change might happen to accommodate the growth of Canberra.
  • Planning that suits the needs of each district:
    • growth and change in each district might be different
    • related to it attributes and to the city overall.

 

 

Community and Recreation Facilities in Gungahlin

The Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) of the ACT Government are undertaking an asessement of Community and Recreation Facilities in Gungahlin through an online consultation.

The Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) strongly encourages all residents to do the Have Your Say survey and to use the map provided as part of the  Assessment of Community and Recreation Facilities in Gungahlin to indicate where facilities should be located.

If you represent or are involved with a community or sporting group please let the GCC know and let us know if the Have Your Say Survey enabled you to communicate your needs effectively.

The assessment is focussed on:

  • developing a community centre for the Gungahlin Town Centre, and
  • the sale of two sites in the Casey Group Centre which are being released for community, residential and commercial uses.

The GCC is particularly concerned about the plans for the two sites in Casey, and the narrowness and quality of the assessment.

Casey Land Release

The two sites in Casey are large blocks along Kingsland Parade – blocks 12, 13 of section 132 Casey.

Casey Community Sites (Blocks 2 & 3 Section 132) indicated by pink outline

Although zoned as commercial, they are part of an arrangement associated with the development of the Casey group centre, outlined in a MyGungahlin article in 2018. Essentially these two blocks will be serviced by the developer of the Casey group centre and then handed back to the ACT government for community use. EPSDD have indicate that:

The sites have a target of 100 dwellings and a commercial area of 24,000m2 across the two blocks. The sites are zoned as Commercial Zone 1: Core Zone which allows for a mix of community, residential and commercial uses.

100 Dwellings and 24,000 sq metres of commercial hardly seems appropriate for community use. The original Casey Concept Plan makes the intent of the casey group centre and surrounding community-use areas very clear:

Assessment

Two early consultancies were presented at the GCC February 2020 meeting. Much of the rationale for the conclusions and findings in these consultancies were inconsistent with feedback from the community as reflected in the GCC 2019 survey.

Top 3 additional recreation facilities (2019 GCC survey)

The assessment process is focussed on the town centre and casey sites and what might be appropriate for them. The GCC believes a complete assessment of the DEMAND for community, recreation and sporting facilities and services in Gungahlin needs to be undertaken, then working out how these can be fitted into the remaining footprint of Gungahlin. A focus on the SUPPLY of individual blocks will not ensure that Gungahlin is completed with all the services expected by residents.

If you represent or are involved with a community or sporting group please let the GCC know so that we can build a demand-based approach. We would also be interested to know if the Have Your Say survey enables you to communicate your needs effectively.

GCC Public Meeting 14 July

GCC Public Meeting 14 July

The next public meeting of the Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) will be held on Wednesday 14 July 2021 starting at 6:30pm.

THE MEETING WILL BE ONLINE – NOT FACE TO FACE 

We will be runing the meeting on the Zoom videoconferencing platform and as usual the meeting will be live streamed on Facebook via the GCC Facebook page.

Attendees are strongly encouraged to join the Zoom virtual room meeting. Please REGISTER HERE and you will be emailed the link needed to join the Zoom meeting.

Agenda

  • GCC Update
  • Yerrabi MLA Update, Suzanne Orr MLA
  • Gungahlin Policing Update, Rachel Hutka, AFP
  • Upgrading the Gungahlin Police Station, Troy Roberts, AFP Association
  • Neighborhood Watch in Gungahlin, Laurie Blackall, ACT Neighbourhood Watch Association
  • Assessment of Community and Recreation Facilities in Gungahlin, Ben Green, EPSDD

One Resident’s Opinion (DV364 Inquiry)

The ACT Assembly is conducting an inquiry into proposed changes to the Gungahin Town Centre – you can make a submission yourself as detailed here. You may find this resident’s submission interesting inspiration!

Major Changes Proposed in DV364

I do not support DV364 I do not believe the removal of the current prohibition on residential apartments is justified.
I do not believe that the Gungahlin planning refresh snapshot demonstrates that the community have ever been specifically consulted about the proposed change from 100,000smtrs in the Office Core to a mixed use model that changes this area from the Office core to “Mixed use East”
Based on what I believe is a deliberate attempt to avoid asking the public whether they would be in favor of more residential apartments in the remaining vacant CBD land. The Gungahlin Community Council decided to survey the Gungahlin community and ask this specific question. The results were overwhelming against any further residential apartments being constructed.
This evidence has been presented to Ben Ponton the Director General of EPSDD and Lesley Cameron from Planning and Urban planning. This information provided appears to have been completely disregarded.
I have consistently noted on every new announcement of new apartment complexes being build in Gungahlin a very high level of concern amongst the population of Gungahlin against these proposals. I do not believe that many of these residents are aware of, or would be in favor of, the mixed use changes that are proposed in DV364.
I believe local MLA’s in consultations with the community are also acutely aware of the public’s hostility towards more mixed use development in the remaining CBD vacant land.
I have also expressed my concern to the SLA in a private meeting and to Minister Berry directly via video conference. I do not subscribe to the current reasoning that the need for more housing excuses actions that ignore the opinions and future needs of Gungahlin residents.
In fact what is never acknowledged is the considerable contribution already made by Gungahlin residents. With the removal of 100,000smtrs of office space from the Business Park Mixed use north precinct. The reasoning given at the time was that there was no interest by business and the only alternative was to use the merit track to change the zoning rules to build high density residential.
No evidence of what advertisement has been enacted by the ACT Government or the developer to foster that interest has ever been presented.  I brought this point up during the DA presentations made by Geocon executives.
The new Bunnings retail precinct located a short distance away clearly demonstrates that there is a demand for more retail outlets. The zoning change to retail I believe would have been a better alternative to the high density housing complexes that currently exist.
The concept floated included a vibrant mixed use retail component in this precinct. This has never materialised with many empty retail stores that have never realised the advertised planning benefits of mixed use developments.
What Gungahlin needs for the future is the preservation of the prohibition on residential apartments in the office core. The primary purpose of all buildings needs to be to provide employment to help alleviate the mass exit of residents to other town centres which have been planned with employment options as a central planning outcome to keep their town centres vibrant.
Developers like to trumpet that this remaining area is close to light rail. But they do not address the empty trains that travel back into Gungahlin during the day. The reality is that without a dedicated Office precinct “no activation” will be injected into the Gungahlin CBD during the day. We know this is important as the concerns expressed about the economic decline on existing ACT precincts when office workers started working from home.
We have a similar concern that we do not have what has been afforded to other ACT districts. Without the preservation of the remaining 100,000smtrs in the office core Gungahlin will be relegated to a dormitory suburb.
What we have acknowledged and understand is there isn’t currently enough interest by Federal departments or Business to take up this land. But I would challenge the Planning Directorate and ACT Government – what has been done in response to the removal of our Business Park to encourage that investment ?
It is in my opinion a red herring to suggest that residential mixed use is the only alternative. Given the public consultation I do not believe has ever specifically addressed mixed use residential introduction. Returning to public consultations on this specific topic is in order.
We are encouraged by a renewed push to ask the Federal Government for more interest in moving more Federal departments to Gungahlin and that the ACT Government is now considering moving further employment assets to Gungahlin. But more needs to be demonstrated to encourage the widest variety of business or retail development. The recent purchase of CBD vacant land by an education provider is a good example of this sort of out of the box thinking that is required.
The remaining CBD vacant land needs to be protected until we have comprehensive public consultations. And address the Government’s total abandonment of the planning principles first set out for the original need to create these Office Core and Business Park precincts in the 2008 planning documents that DV364 seeks to overturn.

Gunners Place

Gunners Place

Gungahlin’s first Youth Centre has officially opened to the public, providing an inclusive, welcoming, and safe space for young people at the Gungahlin Marketplace.

Northside Community Services , Barnardo’s and Multicultural Hub Canberra have collaborated to deliver Gunner’s Place to the Gungahlin region with the support of the Marketplace Gungahlin. They have been engaged and committed to a Youth space for six years after been located at Harrison School, Gungahlin College and now Gungahlin town centre.

The space can take up to 45 people and can be used during the week days for meetings/groups from 8am – 7.45pm Monday to Friday, when not in use by the youth services. The space is available on weekends from 8am – 7.45pm as well, but access is limited to when the last store closes (Big W).

For bookings and other inquiries, contact Shaun Hodson.

 

Dedicated youth centre opens in Gungahlin

Gungahlin’s first Youth Centre offers young people safe space

What Should the Gungahlin Town Centre Should Be Like! (DV364 Inquiry)

Call for Submissions

The Minister for Planning has referred Draft Variation 364 (DV364) of the ACT Territory Plan to the ACT Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Planning, Transport, and City Services. The Planning committee is conducting an inquiry into DV364 and is calling for submissions.

If you care about the future of the Gungahlin Town Centre please make a submission. You don’t have to be a town planning expert –  just describe what you want and expect to be part of a completed town centre. More details and background can be found below. Perhaps think about

  • employment – what creates jobs in a town centre 
  • retail – outlets, experience
  • commercial spaces – large scale offices, smaller businesses
  • community facilities – youth, arts, community groups, rooms, spaces, seniors
  • traffic and parking
  • active travel – walking, cycling, scooters
  • parks – places for kids to play, and to sit, eat, drink
  • entertainment – cafes, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinema, etc.

Details for how to make a submission (copied from the Committee’s website):

There are few rules for submissions, only that they must be relevant, written and received before the closing date.  Include your name, phone number, and postal and email addresses, before sending your submission in either digital or physical form to one of these addresses:

      • By email (preferred): LAcommitteePTCS@parliament.act.gov.au
      • By post: Standing Committee on Planning, Transport, and City Services, ACT Legislative Assembly, GPO Box 1020, Canberra ACT 2601

Submissions received by the committee may be published online, but personal contact details will be removed.

Closing date for submissions is 5pm on 30 June 2021. If you have any difficulty meeting this deadline, please request an extension.

Need help?  Check out our guide to writing a submission for tips and advice.

What is Draft Variation 364 ?

DV364 is proposing changes to the way land is allocated for use in the Gungahlin Town Centre. It is a proposal to change the Gungahlin Town Centre Pre3cinct Code (see What is the Territory Plan below) as follows:

  • Opening up all of the Gungahlin East Precinct to “mixed-use” development
  • Belatedly, introducing more sensible height controls
  • Reducing the amount of land reserved for commercial office space from 100,000 m2 to 65,000 m2
  • Rather than reserving land for community facilities, allowing them to be provided through “equivalent floor space within a mixed use development”
  • Changing the names and boundaries of sub-precincts within the town centre
  • Relocating nominated public car park from block 2 section 229 to block 2 section 11 (between Ernest Cavanagh Street and Hibberson Street)
  • Improving requirements for the public domain.

Major changes proposed by Draft Variation 364

The GCC is strongly opposed to the changes proposoed in DV364, and critical of the process by which it was developed. These sort of planning rule have failed Gungahlin for 30 years and are not supporting the development og a viable town centre. Several artuicles on the GCC website provide more information on DV364:

What is the ACT Territory Plan ?

ACT Territory Plan is made up of:

  • Strategic directions
  • A map showing Zones
  • For each Zone, douments that detail the objectives for the that Zone
  • Codes, which describe local area (precinct) or functional details (like parking rules)

Strategic Directions

The ACT Planning Strategy 2018 has these high level planning goals for the ACT:

  • Compact and Efficient
  • Diverse
  • Sustainable and Resilient
  • Liveable
  • Accessible

Map

Sample of ACT Territory Plan Map showing multiple Zones – CLICK ON THE MAP to go to the live online Terriorty Plan Map

Zones and Codes

 

Example Zone Table

Example Code – This is an extract from the Gungahlin Town Centre Precinct Code

 

What’s Going on With all the Work Being Done at The Establishment site ?

What’s Going on With all the Work Being Done at The Establishment site ?

A substantial temporary road has been constructed parallel to Gundaroo Drive behind the YMCA Early Childhood Centre (to be restored and rehabilitated by August 2022), an access road into the site has been built at the roundabout at the intersection of Gundaroo Drive and Gozzard Street and there’s major excavation going on. All of this, despite there being no decision on the current Development Application (DA) for the site! It’s hard not to assume the developer, Geocon, is so confident the DA will be approved they are pushing ahead … which is not a good look for the ACT government agencies responsible for approving the DA and the other works going on.

Geocon has already chopped down a tree on the site without permission and appears to have gone beyond the limits of the TCCS issued licence for limited development of the unleased Territory Land adjacent to the child care centre. The photos provide evidence of unauthorised, substantial and irreversible development and excavation works on the building site proper.

Temporary carpark/road running SW and parallel to Gundaroo Dv. There are two disabled and at best six other carparks. This road is not open yet and still fenced off.

This area is adjacent to the YMCA child care. Unsure if this is proposed outdoor play area but is currently underdeveloped with an old tractor tyre, logs, light poles and other rubbish.

Significant excavation works (looking across site to Gozzard St).

Significant site development, excavation and drilling/pile driving equipment (looking north to Gundaroo Dr).

Site boundary extends to road edge with excavation appearing to extend past block boundary up to footpath (looking south down Gozzard St).

A number of residents have contacted the GCC with similar concerns, and the GCC has also spoken with the YMCA who are struggling to manage the disruption caused by the vibration and dust created by they excavation and other work. The email response the GCC received from the Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) has been:

“The reconsideration of the S197 application for DA201732666 is still underway.

In regard to the works underway adjacent to Gundaroo Drive, a licence was issued by TCCS to Geocon to permit the use of this area of unleased Territory Land for a temporary road access, parking area and an outdoor play space for use by the YWCA childcare centre during the construction of the adjacent development.  This licence commenced on 18 March 2021 and will expire on 1 August 2022. I understand the access road will be on the same alignment of the old Gundaroo Road, to minimise disturbance to the trees.”

The “reconsideration” mentioned above is the third attempt to get a development application approved for ths site.

The first DA was lodged by Empire Global in 2017 when the development was known as Air Towers. Despite broad community and GCC opposition this DA was approved in 2018.  You can read more about the GCC’s concerns in these articles:

The Notice of Decision for this original DA was very subjective and raised numerous further concerns about the DA approval process as detailed in this article.

The second DA for the site was lodged in May 2020 by Geocon (who had entered into an agreement with Empire Global) and sought to make a number of relatively minor amendments to the approved DA. The GCC again strongly opposed this amended DA, and in a much more rigourous assessment by the planning authority, the amended DA was rejected:

The third DA attempt, was a request by Geocon in June 2020 to “reconsider” the decision to reject the amended DA, allowed under Section 197 (S197) of the Planning Act. Again, the GCC opposed this DA

noting in particular that:

“The documentation provided with the reconsideration contains numerous changes to the amended DA and/or original DA and reads as a further amendment and does not appear to challenge the validity of the Notice of Decision for the Amended DA.”

Further background on how the Gungahlin “Office Park” turned into residential towers can be found in this article: