The Curtin Residents Association (CRA) is hoping hundreds of people will attend a rally at Curtin shops at 11am today to express their concerns about a development application for a proposed six-storey commercial and residential building overlooking the shopping centre square.
The building that could be demolished as early as this October is currently home to tenants including BeyondQ Bookstore and its cafe, The Hungry Buddha restaurant and Curtin Milk Bar and Pizza.
The CRA is opposed to the Curtin Place development, with one organiser describing today’s rally as “the next in what seems a series of ground swell community reactions to contentious planning/development proposals afflicting Canberra of late”.
The existing rectangular building on the site was originally constructed by the late Nickolas Tsoulias, and is still owned by the family through his daughter Sophia Haridemos. The Haridemos family argue the existing building is at the end of its useful life and want to replace it with a contemporary shopping and residential development featuring some 50 apartments.
“The residential floors would be sufficiently set bak to ensure that the public square continues to be a sunny community space without additional wind impact,” they argue on the Curtin Place website.
The family has appointed a design team led by Cox Architecture to create a $13.6 million mixed use development consistent with the Curtin Group Centre Master Plan released by the ACT Government in late 2015. It would feature three basement levels, a ground floor retail level and five residential floors.
The design for the upper residential floors proposes to include a setback from the public square to prevent shadowing or wind impact and to ensure year-round solar access to the square. The setback would include a large open garden on the first floor of the residential units that would be available for use by unit occupiers.
The secretary of the CRA, Chris Johnson, said volunteers from the organisation had spoken to shoppers from the suburb as well as further afield, including Woden, Molonglo, Weston and the Inner South.
“The level of shock and outrage in their feedback has been overwhelming”, Mr Johnson said.
“Most don’t oppose development of the shopping centre but they do object to the size of the building and its potential impacts on shadowing, wind, parking and traffic.
“There is no justification for throwing out the building height rules for group centres, or ignoring the Draft Master Plan for Curtin.”
The draft plan limits building heights immediately around the shopping centre square to two storeys. The southern end of the site at 44 Curtin Place would be subject to a four-storey limit.
Mr Johnson said the rally would kick off at 11am with local musician Dan Fernandes singing a protest song written especially for the occasion. There were several speeches planned, with speakers to include local member and Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur; Jenny Stewart and Fiona Carrick from the Woden Valley Community Council; and Robin Stanton, Chris Johnson and Marita Baier-Gorman, Curtin residents.
Ms Le Couteur reiterated the Greens’ calls for the 2015 draft Curtin Master Plan to be finalised before any new developments were approved.
“The whole point of developing master plans in consultation with the community is to ensure that the voices of residents, businesses and Canberrans who work and live in the area are heard in future decisions,” she said.
“The draft Master Plan does not belong in the bottom drawer of someone’s desk.
“The ACT Government should finalise the Master Plan as soon as possible and consequently update the precinct codes in the Territory Plan which governs building heights in the area.”
Mr Johnson said attendees at today’s daily would be able to sign the CRA’s petition and find out how to lodge an objection to the development with the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate.
“All shops and businesses in Curtin know about the rally and we will be aiming for minimal disruption to businesses and shoppers,” he said.
Overflow parking will be available at Holy Trinity Church on Strangways Street and at St James and Good Shepherd churches on Gillies Street.
Seating will be available for those who need it.
Mr Johnson is available to respond to enquiries about the rally on 0401 498 684.
The cut-off date to lodge responses to the development application is January 31. Responses can be submitted to the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate at:
under the heading Woden Valley – Curtin (Block 7 Section 62).
Pictured above is a silhouette diagram of the proposed building as viewed from the east.