27 August 2022

Ainslie childcare centre plans still on hold after council suffers big loss in ACAT

| Ian Bushnell
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Ainslie Childcare proposal

Still in doubt: An artist’s impression of the Ainslie Group’s proposed childcare centre. Image: Spacelab.

The Ainslie Group, which operates the Ainslie Football & Social Club, is a step closer to building its proposed child care centre after the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal threw out an appeal against the approval of a related development application for the construction of a verge crossing, subdivision and lease changes.

The North Canberra Community Council opposed the Planning Authority’s approval across more than a dozen areas but ACAT dismissed every one.

The NCCC is also appealing against the approval of the child care centre the verge crossing will serve.

Last year the Ainslie Group unveiled its 10-year master plan for developing surplus or unused land around the Alan Ray Oval as part of a strategy to find other revenue streams to reduce its reliance on gaming machines.

The $4 million, 92-place childcare centre on Angas Street is the first stage of the long-term development plan, which includes terraces, apartments, a new club and grandstand.

READ ALSO Ainslie Group slams Community Council’s appeal against approved childcare proposal

Ainslie Group CEO Simon Patterson said it was hoped the NCCC would withdraw its action after its comprehensive loss in ACAT but a hearing on Monday (22 August) gave it 28 days to file a submission stating why the childcare proposal should not proceed.

Mr Patterson said the decision was welcome but it had come at great cost, not only in legal fees but also the delay it had caused to the project in the current inflationary environment.

He said the Ainslie Group could not issue a tender for the childcare centre with a cloud still hanging over it, but would now be able to at least get on with the verge crossing.

“This puts a handbrake on everything, which is disappointing for our organisation because we’re certainly ready and committed to develop something that’s in demand, and where there is a real genuine demand for childcare facilities,” Mr Patterson said.

Ainslie Football and Social Club masterplan

The Ainslie Football and Social Club masterplan. Image: Spacelab.

He said the Ainslie Group had no doubts that ACAT would back the Planning Authority’s approval of the childcare centre, given the breadth of issues the NCCC canvassed in the first appeal, and that the approval had not imposed any conditions.

“The major contention points around traffic and public land management plans have been dealt with by ACAT,” Mr Patterson said.

READ ALSO Gentleman calls in YWCA Canberra’s Ainslie supported housing project

If it did go to a hearing, there probably would not be a decision before Christmas.

“If they choose to withdraw, then we would still be unlikely to have started construction before the New Year,” he said.

Mr Patterson said the verge crossing would probably be finished before Christmas and “that’s more of a symbolic gesture to the community that we’re committed”.

The NCCC has concerns about safety, traffic and the status of the land as a sports and recreation reserve and the loss of green space.

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Guy Incognito10:29 pm 28 Aug 22

The NCCC does not accurately represent the views and wants of the North Canberra Community. This action is an epic waste of time and resources for all involved.

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