ACTPLA calls ‘Action!’ on Gungahlin cinema complex

Ian Bushnell 17 April 2020 33
Gungahlin cinema

An illustration from the DA of the approved Gungahlin cinema proposal. Image: Supplied.

The long wait for a cinema complex in Gungahlin is nearing its end after a $15 million proposal was given the green light, despite limited parking and optimistic traffic projections.

The ACT Planning and Land Authority has conditionally approved Krnc Group’s development application for a two-storey, eight screen complex with more than 1,600 seats to be operated by United Cinemas.

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

Only 117 parking spaces have been provided in the undercroft car park, almost a quarter of that required by the Parking and Vehicular Access Code (PVAC), and a matter that was raised in representations and by Transport Canberra and City Services.

But the planning authority was swayed by arguments from the proponent that the PVAC is inequitable as it requires one space per four seats for cinemas in town centres and only one space per 12 seats in the city centre, equal to 136 spaces.

It also acknowledged that the proposal is near a light rail stop and existing car parking spaces, and that the cinema will be busiest after hours and at the weekend when demand for parking from surrounding commercial uses will be less.

Community expectations also weighed on the planning authority’s thinking.

”The Gungahlin community has been anticipating a cinema on this site for a considerable time. The applicant has made it clear the development may not be viable if additional parking is required,” it says in the Notice of Decision.

A number of conditions were imposed as a result of TCCS concerns, including reviewing the amount of traffic generated and its impact on surrounding roads and intersections.

”It’s quite surprising to anticipate that each ‘Screen’ theatre will likely generate only 13-14 trips out of 205 (approx.) seats, during the peak hour,” TCCS says.

Ten new trees are proposed and they must be planted on the verge and be advanced Pyrus calleryana ‘Capital’ ornamental pears in line with the designated street trees for Hinder Street,

The cinemas will have a dress circle theatre layout. The bottom floor will have recliner seats where patrons will be waited on with food, while there will be standard seating on the upper level.

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

Construction is expected to take 18 months.

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.

United Cinemas currently has cinemas in Avalon, Collaroy, Craigieburn, Eldorado, Katoomba, McGraths Hill, Narellan, Rockingham and Warriewood, with one also planned for Queanbeyan.


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33 Responses to ACTPLA calls ‘Action!’ on Gungahlin cinema complex
maxblues maxblues 1:51 pm 19 Apr 20

Smaller than Ben Hur and less cars than Cars. Not only are there going to be 1600 seats in the cinemas, there is also “three ground-floor retail spaces”! Where are their customers and staff going to park?

David Brown David Brown 8:53 am 19 Apr 20

Great. I hope that one day we might be able to use it. 🤔

Craig Dingwall Craig Dingwall 8:36 am 19 Apr 20

There is parking next to the ACT Government building that can be used after hours, a stones throw from the cinema. Hey everyone, we getting a cinema, let's get excited. 😀

    Sharee Schultz Sharee Schultz 8:39 am 19 Apr 20

    Craig Dingwall how is that going to help parking during the day?

    People do actually go to the cinema during the day & when the retail stores are up & operational, there is not many more parks being built.

    Craig Dingwall Craig Dingwall 8:47 am 19 Apr 20

    Sharee Schultz was just a suggestion, am just excited about having theatre. Am mindful of parking issues often as my partner has mobility issues.

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 5:56 pm 19 Apr 20

    No issues with having a cinema in Gungahlin... but it needs to be done right, not rushed through with such a massive shortfall in parking. It's less than A THIRD of what is normally required. There is no way this should have been approved and I hope the Minister overrides this poor decision.

Gungahlin Community Council Gungahlin Community Council 8:20 am 19 Apr 20

The GCC has some serious concerns about this DA with respect to parking. Obviously the GCC is keen to see the cinema progress given the strong community interest, but the rationale that's been given to approve the DA ignores existing requirements for parking (the Parking and Vehicle Access General Code; PVAC) and sets an unhelpful precedent whereby a developer can suggest that "there is parking available in adjacent locations" to avoid meeting their obligations. We have raised these issues with the planning minister and EPSDD.

    Bekah Glaz Bekah Glaz 9:50 am 19 Apr 20

    Gungahlin Community Council there isn't sufficient parking in Gungahlin, and being a park and ride area makes it even more challenging. There needs to be parking included. Thanks for your efforts, GCC

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 6:00 pm 19 Apr 20

    Lets hope the Minister sees reason and knocks this on the head, and doesn't yield to it 'being an election year' to get this project underway. This is a bad planning decision based on a developer overstepping the mark. If it "may not be viable", then give it to another developer who WILL make it viable AND provide a much better outcome for us in the long run. Don't settle for substandard now... otherwise parking will be a problem plaguing Gungahlin for decades. It's already gridlock and limited parking in the busy periods. In 10-20 years more and more people will simply avoid the area entirely. I already am... traffic/parking is already bad!

Andrew Kristoffersen Andrew Kristoffersen 6:01 am 19 Apr 20

If only they had upgrades to current open air parking in Gungahlin on the table.. it would be a perfect time to redevelop one of them with easy entry/exit and heaps of spaces, so many spaces they could redevelop existing parking into retail space.

Chris Cross Chris Cross 8:11 pm 18 Apr 20

408 parking spaces required... 117 approved. And have a look at where the entry and exit points to that parking will be. Should never have been approved, regardless the developer's claim that it "may not be viable". Fine... delay it by getting a new developer. But this lack of parking is going to cause major traffic issues in the future. Very poor planning decision.

    Tom Leahey Tom Leahey 8:41 pm 18 Apr 20

    Chris, seriously? People can’t drive through that intersection now, and you want to blame the cinema for traffic screw-ups? The Club didn’t seem to make any difference, why should the Cinema?

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 9:17 pm 18 Apr 20

    Tom Leahey Arguing that there's no issues now so there won't be in the future is so short sighted it's not even funny. But OK, let's break it down a little for you. Firstly the club has its own parking... enough for all its patrons. Secondly, if you can't fathom how having entry and exit points to the cinema at the exact same spot to entry/exit points of existing car parks isn't a good idea, then I can't help you when its a lack of logic thats the problem. People are going be waiting to turn left when others will be waiting to turn right trying to get in and out of multiple entry/exits points on the same stretch of road. And on single lane roads that's a nightmare waiting to happen. And YES, I am blaming the cinema because its their poor plans and lack of adequate parking that is going to cause this future dilemma. It appears as though they've bluffed their way to approval by basically telling planning that if they don't approve this greatly reduced parking plan, then we won't build at all because "it may not be viable". Because planning don't want the political fallout of yet another delay on this site, they've caved in to those demands. When what they should have done was call the developers bluff and FORCE THEM TO COMPLY WITH EXISTING RULES TO PROVIDE ENOUGH PARKING ON SITE!!!

    Tom Leahey Tom Leahey 9:26 pm 18 Apr 20

    Chris, I think you need to get out more. There’s plenty of parking in the area already, there’s traffic chaos there at certain times, none after hours though when the cinemas would be used most. There’s also the traffic lights for the light rail stopping traffic on Hinder St at regular intervals, so no, I don’t see any issues. After 8 years I’d reckon developing the site and getting more business & patrons into the town Centre would be a good thing.

    But then I’ve only driven past it at least a couple of times a day, 5 days a week for 8 years, what would I know.

    Craig Elliott Craig Elliott 9:31 pm 18 Apr 20

    Chris Cross 1600 seats... 408 parking spaces would be tight...lots of couples go, not just families. 117 the planning authority wouldn’t be that stupid

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 9:38 pm 18 Apr 20

    Craig Elliott but that's exactly what they've done mate. Approved 117 spots as a special concession to the developers.

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 9:41 pm 18 Apr 20

    Tom Leahey righto mate. Well Stage 2 has 28 retail shops going in there as well. The developer will put in 15 additional spots for that. But she'll be right, everything's fine now... no need to worry. Enjoy your 5 days per week nightmare then bud. You aren't by chance a climate change denialist as well are you?

    Neil Chandler Neil Chandler 8:09 am 19 Apr 20

    I'd like to see evidence that building more car parks would make it "not viable" - it certainly wasnt a problem in the original DA. Perhaps the developer has limited funds after their legal battle over the operator? Maybe United will suffer when customers (who dont all live along the light rail line or in the town centre) find it too much of a headache trying to park and end up just going to Hoyts at Belco where there is ample parking and movie tickets are cheaper? The whole thing is a joke.

    Sharee Schultz Sharee Schultz 8:10 am 19 Apr 20

    Tom Leahey as a Gungahlin resident myself who avoids Gungahlin now due to the pathetic planning & limited parking, where is the ‘plentiful parking’ you are talking about?

    Tom Leahey Tom Leahey 9:10 am 19 Apr 20

    Sharee, under Coles, Woolies and Big W. There’s also 3 levels at First Choice and big open air car parks on Efkarpidis St.

    Sharee Schultz Sharee Schultz 9:26 am 19 Apr 20

    Tom Leahey have you seen how full they get throughout the day? Parks at Big W/Woolies are not going to benefit the cinema & the new retail stores that will go in at Stage 2.

    Tom Leahey Tom Leahey 9:29 am 19 Apr 20

    Sharee, I’ve never had a problem, even on Seniors morning (Tuesday), lunchtimes and the after school rush. Sure, it may not be at the front door of the shop you want to visit, but I’ve always found spaces available.

    Carol Dahlman Perry Carol Dahlman Perry 10:51 am 19 Apr 20

    Harvey Normanby I agree about insufficient parking. I assumed when there was talk of a theatre years ago, they'd have underground parking! Doesn't that make sense? Since our Gungahlin has grown, traffic is a nightmare come 4 or 5pm. More retail shops at the theatre demand parking. You can't expect all ages to park at night in local shopping areas and walk. Some aren't capable. When we go to a theatre, that is just where we want to go. This shouldn't have been approved, besides that drawing of the proposed theatre is not even aesthetically nice looking.

    Carol Dahlman Perry Carol Dahlman Perry 10:55 am 19 Apr 20

    Tom Leahey Aren't we suppose to be a specific customer of Coles, etc when using their car parks? Are we supposed to park under Coles to catch light rail?

    Tom Leahey Tom Leahey 11:01 am 19 Apr 20

    Carol, what’s catching light rail got to do with the Cinema car parking?

    And yes, you use the car-park most suitable for your shopping destination, but if that car-park happens to be full, there are others available. And that was my point. You may not get to use the most convenient car park but most shops/businesses are within a 5 minute walk of wherever you end up parking.

    Carol Dahlman Perry Carol Dahlman Perry 11:01 am 19 Apr 20

    Tom Leahey Tom, even parking at Aldi's has become so bad I've actually gone home without shopping. You can't tell me those are all Aldi customers! Same goes for Coles underground parking. Are all the retail merchants happy about us parking to walk to this proposed theatre? I'm sure we'll have to still go to Hoyts or Dendy where we can be members. I've lived in Gungahlin over 16 years and it used to be so pleasant getting around, now we have trouble navigating, can't turn left or right easily in so many streets/driveways.

    Carol Dahlman Perry Carol Dahlman Perry 11:43 am 19 Apr 20

    Tom Leahey Tom, sorry, I meant do Coles and merchants want us to use their car parks to catch light rail? Likewise do they mind if we park there to go to the cinema? I'm trying to work out this minimum parking situation the theatre guy thinks is fine. It's not really. Why can't he provide underground parking? If it's about cost, maybe he shouldn't be building a theatre. From what I gleaned reading about this gentleman, he can afford to build a really lovely leisure centre 😊 to keep us in our area.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 12:47 pm 19 Apr 20

    Carol Dahlman Perry no you don’t have to be a Coles customer to use that carpark.

    What they don’t want however is commuters parking there all day getting the light rail into town hence why they are making it paid parking with boom gates to stop free loaders.

    And the Carpark outside of Aldi isn’t “theirs” either. That is available for anyone. Besides Aldi is moving anyway so is more carparks that can be used.

    Carol Dahlman Perry Carol Dahlman Perry 12:55 pm 19 Apr 20

    Ashley Wright oh great, Ashley...I know when I say Coles, I mean all the stores upstairs there with Coles, but several years ago Coles did post signs they were adding boom gates but removed those signs! Is it on again?

    Aldi's underground carpark I thought said for Aldi customers.....

    Gee, where'll Aldi's re-locate, do you know? I realise they've been concerned about the inability to expand due to that particular location.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 2:04 pm 19 Apr 20

    Carol Dahlman Perry Aldi is relocating to a new floor that is being built above Kmart.

    And yes the building Coles is in is getting boom gates as too many people park there all day and get the tram to the city even though it is a timed carpark and there is a park and ride for public transport.

    They get away with it as Wilson’s who operate (the carpark not own as many think) cannot get address details to follow up any unpaid penalty notices for overstaying. So people do it day in day out.

    Louis Sotiropoulos Louis Sotiropoulos 4:00 pm 19 Apr 20

    Chris Cross very poor planning and gungahlin go hand in hand. Nothing new with this debacle in waiting

    Tom Leahey Tom Leahey 4:50 pm 19 Apr 20

    Carol, I find there are always spots at the back of the Coles Carpark, it seems nobody wants to walk 50 metres to the escalators. I never go anywhere near the Aldi carpark, but the Coles one is just across the road so not far.

    I don’t disagree that perhaps there should be a bigger underground carpark on the Cinema site, perhaps they’ll do a big one for Stage 3. Regardless of whether the developer has plenty of money or not, the decision to develop the site is commercial.

    The site has been an eyesore for over 8 years, it’s time they did something with it.

    And as for car-parking, they could build a monster car park on the other side of Hibberson St, and that would cater to all those on the Eastern side of the town Centre.

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 5:52 pm 19 Apr 20

    The initial approval for the site 3 years had more parking... 3 levels of underground parking beneath the cinema. Now all of a sudden its 'not viable' to do that. I have absolutely no issues with development on the site- I do want a cinema. But if they stuff this up now in planning stage, we are stuck with crap all parking for decades as Gungahlin grows even bigger. It's very short sighted, just so they can get underway on the site.

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