There should be an inquiry held into Giralang shops, it shouldn’t take ten years+ to end up with a half built centre being bulldozed and replaced with flats, whatever your opinion on whether Giralang should have shops is. Why can’t local government handle a redevelopment of a local shops without it coming to this?
During the time that Giralang has been without shops, Crace appeared and got a Supabarn and shopping centre, Casey got two supermarkets with an option for a third, Lawson has been granted a supermarket and shops, Dickson got an Aldi, and many other examples. DFO Fyshwick were lucky enough that the ACT Government completely changed the planning laws to allow them to have a 1000m2 supermarket in an area not zoned for supermarkets to attempt to save their business, despite the many other commercial interests that might be hurt by that. Most of these shopping centres are far bigger than the approved 1500m2 centre at Giralang.
Kaleen Supabarn is now a Coles. Supabarn had previously argued that a major such as Woolworths in Giralang would harm competition and appealed our DA. Now there is no competition against Coles in Kaleen, which is a much larger centre than our DA of 1500m2.
The ACT Government excluded Coles and Woolworths from bidding on certain Gungahlin supermarket sites in the interest of “competition” with the effect that Supabarn were able to easily purchase them. Supabarn then simply attempted to sell those sites to Coles.
Why has the legal process held up Giralang shops for so long, when all these new shops are popping up all over the place? There are competing commercial interests in all these cases that I’m sure would like to stop the process… why has this only happened for Giralang?
The good news for Giralang residents is that the court action by competing commercial interests has been dismissed. Woolworths then immediately formally announced in the Canberra Times they are no longer interested in tenanting the site. Given the length of time that has gone by, it is not surprising that Woolworths presumably no longer had any contractual obligation to lease the half built shopping centre.
The position of Andrew Barr, that I have in writing from him verbatim is: “The ACT Government has moved to specify that the gross floor area for shops in local centres cannot be larger than 1000m2”. The Labor Party has multiple times indicated to me that their position is that local shops should not be more than 1000m2 total, and that the Giralang shops DA which is a total of 1500m2 for the entire centre would have to be downsized to 1000m2 should a revised DA be submitted due to the ongoing legal action or for any other reason. The ACT Government has publically stated that they prefer a “compromise solution” which should involve a shopping centre of no more than 1000m2 due to their revised policy since the DA was approved.
Other sources imply that the 1000m2 rule may apply only to the supermarket, in which case the Giralang shops could continue to be 1500m2 even with a revised DA that included flats to compensate the developer for being unable to secure a major such as Woolworths as a tenant, as long as the supermarket component was no more than 1000m2. However the Labor Party still appear to be opposed to a 1500m2 centre at Giralang based on their policy of 1000m2 total shops space as quoted in writing to me in their last correspondence. I have sought clarification on this from the Labor Party, however have not received a response yet, and do not expect to for a long time if at all based on previous experience.
I have a hard time identifying where the 1000m2 total floor space for shops applies apart from Giralang. It appears all the surrounding new suburbs are getting large local centres, and the existing local, group and town centres are expanding. Giralang now seems set to have our shops replaced with flats when we bought into the suburb in good faith with a shops in place.
The ACT Government claim that their policy of no more than 1000m2 of shop space is to “ensure the viability of all local shops”. That that policy may result in Giralang having NO local shops does not appear to be a factor they consider.