18 December 2019

$15 million proposal lodged for Gungahlin's long-awaited new wave cinema

| Ian Bushnell
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Gungahlin cinema complex

An artist’s impression of the Gungahlin cinema complex from the DA. Photos: Supplied.

Developer Krnc Group has lodged plans for the long-awaited cinema in Gungahlin, proposing a two-storey, eight-screen complex with more than 1600 seats.

To be sited on the corner Hinder and Efkarpidis Streets in the Town Centre next to Gungahlin Village, and not far from the light rail terminus, the $15 million proposal is for a mixed-use development with three ground-floor retail spaces, ground floor cinema foyer and the innovatively designed cinema itself upstairs.

It is planned as the first stage of an overall mixed-use development on Block 1 Section 12, a site undeveloped since the construction of the Town Centre in 2004-05.

Stage 2 to the north on the corner of Hinder and Hibberson Streets will be the subject of a separate DA and comprise two levels of offices and a ground floor of retail shops and a café, while development of the eastern part of the block facing Kate Crace Street is still to be determined.

The plans say the eight screens will seat a total of 1662 patrons and cover a gross floor area of 3,568 square metres.

All eight cinemas at the Gungahlin complex, to be operated by United Cinemas, will have a dress circle theatre layout, meaning it will have two levels. The bottom floor will have recliner seats where patrons will be waited on with food, with cheaper standard seating on the upper level.

There will be six smaller cinemas of 187 seats and two large ones of 270 seats.

A ground-level undercroft car park will hold 117 vehicles, with four spaces dedicated to people with a disability. This is fewer than that proposed in previous designs for the site due to its proximity to light rail corridor, existing bus routes and shopping centres.

The site plan shows the car park entrance on Hinder Street and exit on Efkarpidis Street.

The cinema foyer, near the corner of Hinder and Efkarpidis Streets, and the three shops open out on to the Hinder Street footpath, will be covered by awnings. The northern and eastern building facades will not have windows due to the cinema.

The building design and landscaping will provide shade to pedestrians on Ekarpidis Street.

The quest for a cinema in Gungahlin has had a chequered history since 2012 when the ACT Government first called for expressions of interest. Legal action between Hoyts and United delayed Krnc Group’s plans for the development, with United winning out.

In last August, United announced that the cinema would be going ahead. Gungahlin Community Council president Peter Elford said at the time that after so long it was a relief but it also meant a different type of cinema would be built.

“The idea that every cinema has a downstairs area with recliners and the upstairs has standard seating is great,” he said. “It means that in addition to finally getting a cinema in Gungahlin, the rest of Canberra has an opportunity to head to Gungahlin and try something completely new and different.

“It’s new for Canberra but we know that we are not being a test site for something and this type of cinema has been successful around Australia.”

United Cinemas currently has cinemas in Avalon, Collaroy, Craigieburn, Eldorado, Katoomba, McGraths Hill, Narellan, Rockingham, Warriewood, with a cinema also planned for Queanbeyan later this year.

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Most welcome addition to Gungahlin but 117 car parks to service a potential 1660 cinema goers?

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