23 April 2021

454 units' worth of mixed-use sites released in Gungahlin Town Centre

| Ian Bushnell
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Overlay map of blocks of land released for sale in Gungahlin Town Centre

The Gungahlin Town Centre blocks that have been released for sale. Image: Suburban Land Agency.

The release for sale of four more mixed-use sites in Gungahlin Town Centre will disappoint community representatives alarmed at the lack of job-creating commercial developments there.

As some of the last mixed-use development sites in the town centre, they will go under the hammer next month.

The ACT Suburban Land Agency has released four CZ5 sites for sale in the eastern part of the town centre, with Colliers in charge of marketing.

The available blocks range in size from 2705 square metres to 10,510 square metres and are approved for a total of 454 units, including 76 affordable and eight public housing dwellings.

The smallest block (Block 4, Section 246) on the corner of Gungahlin Place and Camilleri Way is closest to the existing town centre development and is approved for 46 dwellings (five affordable).

The other three are in Section 249 at the Manning Clark Crescent end of Camilleri Way.

Block 12 is 4836 square metres with approval for 75 dwellings (14 affordable). Block 5 is the largest at 10,510 square metres with approval for 202 dwellings (37 affordable and three public housing). Block 6 is 6822 square metres with approval for 131 dwellings (20 affordable and five public housing).

The CZ5 zoning allows for higher density residential development that features retail or commercial opportunities, but many developments so far have delivered little such offerings other than ground-floor cafes.

Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) is concerned at the shrinkage in space allowed for offices or other commercial ventures in the town centre, and that little land will be left to attract employers to build the local economy.

It has long been argued that Gungahlin should not simply become a dormitory.

ACT chief planner Ben Ponton and the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate’s Lesley Cameron fronted a GCC meeting on the evening of Wednesday, 14 April, and were quizzed about these matters but they could give little comfort other than to say the planning review underway would help provide better outcomes – although there would be an untidy transition period when it came to which rules developments would be assessed under.

GCC president Peter Elford wanted to know what the plan is for Gungahlin to have a centre of employment, and what change is needed to achieve that outcome, pointing to the way in which the community had input into the sale of the Gold Creek heritage site.

Mr Ponton said the ACT’s planning authority could help provide the right environment for investment but could not force businesses or government agencies to set up shop in Gungahlin.

He said at present residential development is more viable than commercial ventures for developers in Gungahlin, and land could not be quarantined forever.

“If there is no demand, do we leave land unused for the next 30 years?” asked Mr Ponton.

He said people want to live in Gungahlin, and the planning authority cannot ignore this demand.

The meeting was told that the Draft Variation 364 revised down the amount of demand for office space from 200,000 square metres to half that size, and that there are still two blocks reserved for that use in the Gungahlin Town Centre.

The auctions will take place at 11:00am on Wednesday, 12 May, at Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club in Nicholls.

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Modern planning perspectives and standpoints would call for decentralisation of CBD areas to provide office and head office services in suburban centres. Many businesses and offices have proven to operate successfully from places outside of centralised CBD areas and there are no major issues otherwise. Many outer areas now have just as much clout and significance as CBD’s. The only difference is that it’s not majorly centralised, but in turn creates extra centralised zones away from CBD’s and promotes secondary or further business and corporate districts.

ChrisinTurner3:08 pm 24 Apr 21

For new office blocks Gungahlin is too far away from the demographic centre of Canberra. Keep in mind that, compared to Sydney, Canberra stretches from Hornsby to Heathcote. Public servants need to be fairly close to either Parliament House or the ACT Assembly. Even the airport proved to be too far away for the departments that moved back to Civic.

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