Minister Gentleman Gives Up on Gungahlin

Mixe-use developments in the Gungahlin Town Centre – mostly spaces For Lease

On 7 July 2021, the GCC wrote to the Minister for Planning, Mick Gentleman, citing the approval of “The Establishment” development as an example of the poor outcomes that the planning system is deliverying in the Gungahlin Town Centre:
CC: Yerrabi MLAs,
Dear Mick, 
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). Additional details, documents and history can be found here
The GCC does not support this development and is very disappointed with this outcome.
The basis for the decisions was that 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).
Draft Variation 364 has utterly failed to make any impact, despite being initiated by the community in 2016. It is obvious that the Planning System Reform is going to be equally ineffective in the relevant timeframe.
This is further evidence that:
– the ACT government needs to acknowledge that the planning system has failed to enable the development of a viable Gungahlin Town Centre, and
– specific and immediate action needs to be taken to adopt a different approach for the Gungahlin Town Centre that will have immediate and positive impact.
We again ask that you provide a specific response to these two issues.
The GCC received a response to this email on 14 September 2021, that clearly indicated the Minister believed everything that could be done had been done, and no further action was required – he has given up on Gungahlin. The text of the letter is included below.
The response:
  • blames the lack of any susbtantial commercial employment in the town centre on the Federal government for not moving a government agency there (beyond the ACT govermnet staff in Winyu House)
  • ignores the obvious requirement to create incentives/obligations to encourage the establishment of employment in the town centres, since this is what happened in the other Canberra town centres
  • suggests “the ACT Government’s thinking” rather than its actions will create a thriving town centre, despite the clear evidence that mixed-use in the town centre in its current form HAS NOT AND IS NOT WORKING

This is an utterly underwhelming response. If you agree, please leave a comment and/or share your views with one or more ofthe Yerrabi Memmbers of the Legislative Assembly (MLA):

Mixed-Use Developments In the Gungahlin Town Centre – Mostly Vacant Leases

Text of Minister’s Response:

Dear Me Elford
Thank you for your email of 7 July 2021 on behalf of the Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) regarding concerns for the viability of the Gungahlin town centre and the outcome of the development application (DA 201732666) relating to ‘the Establishment’.
As you are aware, the independent nature of the planning and land authority (the authority) means that politicians, including Ministers, are unable to interfere in decisions of the authority. 
I have been in strong agreement with you for a long time about the need for more commercial development in Gungahlin Town Centre. I have written to you in the past about the ACT Government’s actions in providing office workers to Gungahlin Town Centre and also our shared disappointment that there is no appetite from the Federal Liberal Government to locate a large Government Department in the Gungahlin Town Centre.
From a planning perspective, the ACT Government has done all that it can to enable commercial development in the Gungahlin Town Centre. The ACT Government also wants to see more commercial activity and it’s clear that continuing to do what we have always done is unlikely to get this outcome. The Property Council of Australia reinforced this in their contribution to the Standing Committee on Planning, Transport and City Services hearings into Draft Variation 364. Planning levers can only go so far, and without the interest from a significant Federal Government Department, it will be difficult to drive commercial activity in the Gungahlin Town Centre.
The changes proposed in Draft Variation 364 attempt to drive commercial activity through demand provided by residents in the Gungahlin Town Centre. The ACT Government’s thinking is that the Gungahlin Town Centre can be a genuine mixed-use area, which has a thriving commercial life throughout the daytime, into the evening, and also on weekends. I appreciate that Gungahlin Community Council does not agree with this approach; however, simply keeping the land reserved for commercial activity has not successfully led to large-scale commercial investment in the Gungahlin Town Centre to date and the ACT Government is actively working to find solutions. The ACT Government is not able to force people to open a business or dictate locations to people wanting to open a business.
The ACT Government needs to find 100,000 homes for Canberrans over the next 25 years as our population continues to grow. Canberrans are also ageing, and living in smaller households, so I am mindful that these homes must be suitable for older people and close to shops, services, community facilities, and public transport. This is not confined to Gungahlin – all town centres are seeing greater residential development as we build a city that is compact and efficient. Building ‘up’ rather than ‘out’ protects our bush landscape including Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve and Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve. I know that Gungahlin residents enjoy having such great access to nature reserves, and I’m proud that we have been able to continue to expand our parks and reserves in Gungahlin.
The ACT Government already has substantial work underway to make thoughtful planning decisions in Gungahlin in addition to the Planning System Review and Reform Project. The Community and Recreational Facilities Analysis, which was commenced due to strong advocacy from the Gungahlin Community Council, will provide valuable information about what community facilities are wanted and needed by the Gungahlin community. The investigation into mixed-use zoning will assist Gungahlin Town Centre to be a place where people will want to not just live and work, but also visit for community, shopping, and recreation. I am aware that you are after immediate action in the Gungahlin Town Centre but I am of the view that a considered approach will deliver the best outcomes for Gungahlin and the broader ACT community.
I look forward to continuing to work with you on making Gungahlin Town Centre a thriving hub of commercial and community activity.
I trust this information is of assistance.

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)

What is Draft Variation 364 ? Why should I Care ?

This article is a timeline that details the how Draft Variation 364 of the ACT Territory Plan got developed.

28 November 2016

Gungahlin residents are frustrated and confused about the appearance of high rise residential developments in the Gungahlin Town Centre (see The Gungahlin Residential Towers Story).  The Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) contacts the Deputy Director General of the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) (then, Gary Rake) “regarding the transformation of the Office Park precinct into a very high density collection of mixed-use residential towers. It highlights the lack of cohesion there appears to be in how these developments are approved, particularly in the context of the overall town centre plan, and the community’s understanding of what is permitted.”

9 December 2016

Gary Rake proposes “A place-making review of the Gungahlin precinct plan”, a fast and focussed piece of work with an expected completion on June 2016.

17 February 2017

The review becomes the “Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh” and is launched with key issues identified as:

  • Building height and character
  • Upgrading and enhancing public spaces
  • Walking, cycling and road transport

An online survey is made available on Have Your Say website. This surview appears to be “manipulated” by a person/or persons supporting high-rise residential development (multiple responses from the same Internet address).

Timeline is now:

April to May 2017 – Consideration of feedback and formulation of draft variation to the Territory Plan (if required)

Mid 2017 – Community engagement on a revised draft variation to the Territory Plan (if required)

1 March 2017

Minister for Planning, Mick Gentleman issues press release – A renewed vision for the Gungahlin Town Centre:

“We want to continue to make the Gungahlin town centre a place that people want to visit and spend time in, not just for the shops, restaurants and services, but the open spaces and community facilities,” Minister Gentleman said.

“We will be asking how we can improve access to the centre for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as private and public transport.

“Following the community engagement and relevant stakeholder meetings, the Government may propose changes to the Territory Plan that will also go through a community engagement process.

“The Gungahlin town centre is integral to the city’s economic growth and diversification. It has the potential for sustainable growth that provides more housing and lifestyle choice for residents and more travel options. However, the centre needs to meet the aspirations of the existing community.

8 April 2017

Gary Rake presents an overview of the refresh at the GCC public meeting.

4 May 2017

Stakeholder workshop held with community, industry and government representatives. Numerous other engagement mechanisms are also held, including popups, planning in the pub, phone surveys, etc.

May 2018


24 November 2018

After further long delays, EPSDD present an overview of what they propose to include in DV364.

19 December 2018

GCC provides a written response to the Town Centre Planning Refresh regarding Draft Variation 364:

The Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) is disappointed with the Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh (the Refresh).

The recommendations that it makes regarding building height and character affirm positions that the GCC has been advocating for several years which are diametrically opposed to development application decisions the government has made in the North West Gungahlin precinct. This is absolutely a case of government taking far too long to change obviously flawed processes, and when it finally makes a recommendation (not even a decision) to change it, it’s far too late, condemning an entire generation of residents to a concentrated example of unconstrained development.

The Refresh makes no firm recommendations on how to address this situation and its likely impact on traffic, pedestrian and cycle access, over shadowing and the absence of green/open space for an unintended population of this size. Other rec ommendations, such as the change to
the space to be reserved for office space, lack an evidence base.

Further, the Refresh moves Gungahlin away from the ACT stated goal of sustainability. Sustainability requires localisation of economic activity. The GCC Town Refresh continues the trend of centralisation of economic activity to Civic and the Northbourne Avenue corridor. It does this by halving the amount of space available for employment in the GCC Town Centre.

This is unacceptable as it is planned that only 14% of paid employment for Gungahlin residents is within the Gungahlin district and that includes home-based businesses and the industrial area of Mitchell.

Employment is a social activity and it is an important part of building Social Capital in a Community. More employment in the Town Centre will also increase the utility of the Light Rail. Rather than reducing the space for Business Activity, the Gungahlin Community Council would
like to see the amount increased to at least the planned levels in Belconnen.

The proposed business zone reductions will severely limit the possible expansion of the Gungahlin central business district. A significant increase in traffic congestion now exists in the CBD having been exacerbated due to recent traffic modifications to incorporate public transport.
Expansion of the Gungahlin CBD is critical to reducing this traffic congestion. Apartment complexes with small business ground floor space is a poor substitute for dedicated business zoning to the Gungahlin community. We would also like to see existing planning regulations enforced and fewer exceptions granted that reduce the level of business space in buildings.

30 September 2019

Draft Variation 364 is published for public comment. A single community consultation is provide as a 2 hour popup in front of Woolworths on 12 October 2019.

New developments are require to comply with the Draft Variation as it has interim effect. The interim effect lapses after 12 months.

9 October 2019

A summary of Draft Variation 364 is presented at the GCC public meeting by EPSDD.


Potential Gungahlin Fast Track Projects

The Fast Tracks program is one of the ACT government’s economic stimulus responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of Fast Tracks projects in Gungahlin have already been announced.

Thise table is a summary of other projects that the Gungahlin community has identified which the GCC will pass onto the ACT government for consideration.

Please leave a comment, or email the GCC with details of projects that you think should be added to this list! Projects need to be able to be started immediately and be delivered by local businesses and include “infrastructure and maintenance work on government-owned community buildings, schools and other facilities across the city”. This means they cannot be complex or require products to be ordered, etc. Look at these for examples – Fast Tracks projects in Gungahlin

Project DescriptionMap
Connect path across Yerrabi Pond dam at Western end to existing footpath
Seal dirt path to complete concrete path behind houses along Bunduluk Street
Repair the erosion along this segment of the Centennial Trail and remedy the boggy section at the Northern end of the marked section (which is causing trail spread)
Construct a path between Lester Street and the bus stop on Crackerjack Way
Complete Nurdurr Drive as a road
Extend the existing Fast Track project to build a multi-use path behind Palmerston all the way through to Gungahlin Drive (could just be a gravel path)
Provide pedestrian crossings across Gribble Street to/from Bunnings and Hibberson Street to/from Library (perhaps lights at this intersection)
Install traffic lights at intersection of Gozzard St and Valley Way
Complete the duplication of Anthony Rolfe Ave between Gundaroo Drive and Gozzard St
Improve the quality and accessibility of the Old Wells Station Road behind Harrison and Mother Theresa schools. Seal a path to avoid flooding, and allow access for mobility scooters and strollers over cattle grid
A pedestrian bridge over Gundaroo Drive between Anthony Rolfe Ave and Gribble Street to better and more safely connect the town centre to Yerrabi Pond Park.
Seal dirt track at intersection of Newlop Street and Horse Park Drive

GCC Public Meeting 10 June

The June public meeting of the Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) will be held online at 6.30pm on Wednesday 10 June 2020. There will be a virtual meeting room running on the Zoom application, and this will be live streamed on Facebook on the GCC Facebook pages. Attendess are strongly encouraged to join the Zoom virtual room meeting – please email us ( and we will send you the link needed to join the meeting.


  • The COVID-19 Pandemic and Small Businesses – An Overview of  What Assistance is Available, Graham Catt, CEO, Canberra Business Chamber
  • Results from GCC Survey 2019, Peter Elford, GCC President
  • ACT Election Focus Areas, Peter Elford, GCC President

Gungahlin Cycling Infrastructure Requirements (Projects)

Last updated 26 May 2020

  • Town Centre end/start of ride facilities – secure cage for bikes immediately adjacent to Light Rail stop as part of a genuine commuting hub
  • Improve infrastructure between Mixed Use West precinct (high rise residential towers) and Town Centre proper; better separation and amenity
  • Improved access to/around Mitchell
  • Provide separated bike path along Barton Highway between Federal Highway and Ellenborough St
  • Improve bike path crossing of Gungahlin Drive between Wells Station Dr and Sandford St (two crossings of Gungahlin Dr are needed for those joining the Gungahlin Dr bike path from East)
  • Include bike path, ideally separated, along proposed upgrade to Morisset St
  • Construct a direct path between Horse Park Drive to corner Anthill St and Federal Highway to avoid the hill into Majura valley, making North Canberra/Civic more accessible from Northern Gungahlin.
  • Develop an MTB park in Gungahlin region at a scale similar to Majura Pines, Bruce Ridge,  etc. Perhaps through plantation Eucalypts in North adjacent to Centennial Trail.

GCC Public Meeting May 13

The May public meeting of the Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) will be held online at 6.30pm on Wednesday 13 May 2020. There will be a virtual meeting room running on the Zoom application, and this will be live streamed on Facebook on both the MyGungahlin Facebook and GCC Facebook pages. Attendess are strongly encouraged to join the Zoom virtual room meeting – please email us ( and we will send you the link needed to join the meeting.


  • Sport and Recreation Facilities in Gungahlin, Yvette Berry, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Deputy Chief Minister
  • New Retail Options in Gungahlin – The Transformation of the Home Hardware Site, Richard Swinburne, Argus Property
  • New Development Application for The Establishment (formerly Air Towers), Peter Elford, GCC President

Fresh Funk Gungahlin


Fresh Funk is excited to be offering classes in Gungahlin!

Join us in 2019 for music and dance traditions in our brand new dance class for kids in Gungahlin.

Fresh Funk’s ‘Around the World’ dance class is for parents & children aged 18 months – 3 years.

The 45 minute class is held on Thursday mornings from 9.45am – 10:30am at the Gungahlin Community Centre.

The 10-week term will commence on Thursday 7 February, 2019.


Children 18-months to 3 years


Thursday mornings commencing, 7 February, 2019.


Contact us via the form on this page or on (02) 6293 1443. Please note: all enrolments MUST be discussed with the Fresh Funk director to confirm availability of places and determine suitable levels.


Gungahlin Community Centre, 47 Ernest Cavanagh Street, Gungahlin ACT