11 May 2018

24-storey marker building in $400 million WOVA development

| Ian Bushnell
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An artist’s impression of the site viewed from the corner of Launceston and Melrose Drive. Images supplied by Geocon.

A ‘sleek’, 72 metre high, 24-storey marker building on the corner of Launceston Street and Melrose Drive is the feature of Geocon’s massive WOVA (WOden reVAmped) development on the former Woden Tradies site in Phillip.

The development application says Geocon will demolish the existing buildings and construct four separate mixed-use buildings ranging in height from 10 to 24 storeys on the one hectare site bounded by Melrose Drive, Launceston Street and Furzer Street.

The $400 million development – designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects and Oculus Urban Design, the team behind the NewActon precinct – will have 798 residential apartments, ground floor retail and commercial spaces, community use areas, four levels of basement parking and a green spine of landscaped public open spaces.

The marker building will provoke debate about the scale of the development and overshadowing but Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis says there has been an unprecedented level of community consultation and high-rise buildings should be expected and welcomed in the Woden Town Centre.

“Through our extensive community consultation we know some people have issues with height and overshadowing, but we also know from the research than more than three-quarters of Canberrans agree that ‘density makes sense in Canberra’s town centres rather than in the suburbs, as long as it is designed by world-leading architects rather than ad hoc second-rate developments’,” he said.

“Concerns about height and overshadowing next to town centres is like buying a place near an airport then complaining about aircraft noise.”

The WOVA development elevation graphic from the DA.

Mr Georgalis said WOVA, along with Grand Central Towers to the east, would breathe new life into the area and energise the town centre, creating new jobs and lifestyle opportunities while supporting existing businesses and community groups.

“In the 1970s, Woden was booming. It was a thriving hub of Public Service and retail activity. Since then, Woden has lagged seriously behind other town centres like Belconnen and Gungahlin. To the south, Tuggeranong’s resurgence has also outstripped Woden. People think the area is tired, run-down and lacking vibrancy,” he said.

Mr Georgalis said a feature of the development was the focus on public spaces for the community including extensive landscaping, public art, and planned links to other parts of the Town Centre. “There will be space for pop-up activities like street markets and family entertainment,” he said.

The view from Launceston Street.

The four buildings proposed are:

  • 24-storey marker building at the corner of Launceston Street and Melrose Drive, with a maximum height of 72 metres (excluding parapets and plant), 18 metres less than nearby Lovett Tower.
  • 10-storey building to the east of the marker building fronting Launceston Street, with a maximum height of 30 metres (excluding parapets and plant).
  • 16-storey building at the corner of Launceston Street and Furzer Street, with a maximum height of 49.6 metres (excluding parapets and plant).
  • 16-storey building located towards the south-east corner of the site with a frontage to Furzer Street, with a maximum height of 48.6 metres (excluding parapets)

At ground level, there will be five retail tenancies, two commercial/community use tenancies, three food and beverage tenancies and public space through site links from the corner of Melrose Drive and Launceston Street.

Geocon says the 10.194 square metre site area includes 1600 square metres of commercial/retail space, 4200 square metres of communal/public open space, 991 car spaces, 100 bicycle spaces and 798 apartments, ranging from one to three bedrooms and Soho style.

The view from Melrose Drive.

Vehicles will enter from Melrose Drive and Furzer Street to access the basements levels, and the buildings will be serviced by vehicles from the Melrose Drive and Furzer Street frontages.

The DA says “cars and service vehicles, while important to meet the day-to-day functioning of the development are treated as secondary to pedestrian and cycle movement. A bicycle hub with end of trip facilities is provided to encourage alternate modes of transport”.

Landscaping on the corner of Launceston Street and Melrose.

Six verge trees will be removed and 40 trees will be removed inside the block, five of which are regulated. The 13 street trees planted along Launceston Street will be protected and retained.

The public landscaped areas will include new trees to provide shade and amenity throughout the site for pedestrians, as well as grassed areas, planting beds, paving and seating.

Walkways will connect each of the public streets in and around the site.

For residents, there will be terraced gardens and landscaped balconies in three of the buildings, with one connecting to lounge areas, kitchens and a gymnasium.

Pending approval of the development application, Stage 1 is likely to be released to the market in the second half of 2018, with construction likely to commence in 2019.

To view the DA go here.

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Woden Valley Community Council1:21 am 16 May 18

Submit your objections to EPDCustomerservices@act.gov.au by 31 May 2018. The number of objections is important so please let the Government know that this development should be scaled back.
The 24 storey building is not slender and its height and bulk creates maximum overshadowing of Bellerive retirement village across the road.
Bellerive residents have asked for the tall building to be placed on the block so it overshadows the structured carpark to the south of the site. Geocon has not indicated that they have considered this suggestion.
The density is huge with 4 residential towers and around 700 apartments per hectare. The whole of the Woden core (unlike the other town centres) is zoned for residential towers, we could have this density throughout the Woden Town Centre.
It will be primarily small 1 beddies with no indication of whether families are catered for.
With all the new apartments the congestion at the Melrose Drive/Launceston St intersection will increase so those of us heading north for work everyday will have another very busy intersection to get through.
In December 2017 the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Planning and Urban Renewal recommended that the ACT Government amend the draft variation to the Territory Plan to cap the scale and height of the marker building proposed for the Tradies site to the scale and height of the previously-approved DA (19 and 17 storeys).
We want more people in Woden but WOVA is too high and too dense. We should support the residents of the retirement village by submitting objections to the overshadowing of this development.

bringontheevidence10:47 am 16 May 18

Um, no.

Has Bellerive catered for families and young children in their high density precinct? Do you think catering for families should be compulsory for all development applications, including those for retirement villages and student accommodation?

As much as nimbys like the WVCC complain about too many one bedroom apartments, most projects in Canberra these days are actually dominated by two bedroom apartments. Both the Ivy and Grand Central projects in Woden are mostly two bedroom apartments, as are most of the units in Woden Green and (at a guess) so will be the apartments in the A&A buildings when they get refurbished.

What is lacking in Woden are smaller, single bedroom apartments that are affordable for young people and singles. This development simply is simply targeting that gap in the market.

Capital Retro9:04 pm 13 May 18

When I was involved with the motor industry the acronym WOVA meant “Written Off Vehicle”.

As development applications go, this one’s a shocker. I’m surprised to see Fender Katsalidis’ name attached to this project – even their worst work tends to be a step above the ordinary dreck that passes for architecture in this city. Perhaps Geocon’s incredibly deep funding well has finally run dry?

At any rate, I look forward to the inevitable community “victory” that will see this site become a vacant, decaying wreck for the next decade. Can’t let Woden lose its delightful post-apocalyptic atmosphere, can we?

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