The price may be the loss of some open space but hopes are high that West Belconnen residents will finally have an expanded Kippax Fair Shopping Centre that will be suitable to the community.
Both the Belconnen Community Council and the owners of Kippax Fair have welcomed the ACT Government’s recommended draft Territory Plan Variation for the Kippax Group Centre.
BCC chair Glen Hyde acknowledged DV361 was not perfect and not everyone in the community would be happy, especially at the proposed rezoning of 16,000 square metres of open space to accommodate a bigger centre.
But he said that after five years of continuous consultation and a final push over Christmas when the process appeared to have stalled, about two dozen concerns had been cut to less than a handful.
“We know that in order for the Kippax precinct to have a shopping centre that will be able to comfortably deal with another 30,000 residents over the next few decades we will lose green space,” Mr Hyde said.
“We were always opposed to just a willy-nilly approach to it but some of the compromise aspects of the redesign gave us a great amount of confidence that this time around the community is being listened to. Yes, we’re still going to lose a substantial proportion of the bottom field to the expanded centre [but] that’s got to happen anyway.
”If we can get some control over what’s happening this time around we think that’s a good thing.”
The Kippax Fair owners are looking to expand across the Holt playing fields with a new supermarket, more retail, restaurants and residential.
Mr Hyde said a design that offered more flow for pedestrians, commuters and motorists, underground parking, the relocation of the skate park away from the centre and residential units instead of a blank wall on the north-east of the expansion was a big improvement on previous proposals.
As well as various rezonings, DV361 proposes two new access corridors including a new road and a separate pedestrian path connecting Moyes Crescent to Hardwick Crescent east, to improve the access, circulation and movements throughout the centre.
DV361 retains the existing two-storey height limit in the group centre while introducing three and six-storey height limits in selected locations.
The loss of open space dominated consultation submissions so Mr Hyde acknowledges the community might still be unhappy but he believes more playing fields will come on stream will compensate.
”Nobody wants to see open space lost but the compromises are all-round. The fact [is] that we do have Higgins online, an opportunity to get the Ginninderry precinct playing fields up and running over next couple of years, and hopefully in a decade we’ll have a combined playing field for Molonglo and West Belconnen,” he said.
There are also playing fields in the south-eastern corner of the Kippax Group Centre not being used or irrigated which could be reinstated, as cited in the consultation report for DV361.
Mr Hyde said the council had asked the Kippax Fair owners to launch its pre-DA consultation with the community.
”We don’t want them to put [the development application] to the community until it’s at a point everyone agrees it’s ready to go out,” he said.
Centre owner Philip Christodoulou said the detail of DV361 would now be considered as it awaited information from the government on the release of a number of Territory-owned blocks adjacent to the Centre before preparing a development application.
“We know the community supports this development. Considerable work and public consultation has been invested in the Kippax Group Centre Master Plan since it was released in 2015, and we have worked closely with the local community, the Belconnen Community Council, and other stakeholders to refine the design for the expansion of the Kippax Centre and the invigoration of community assets,” he said.
“The community can rest assured that we are ready to start once all the planning processes are ticked off.
“We are encouraged by the support shown for the project by the Minister, the government more generally and the Planning Authority. We look forward to its further progress as we work to resolve the outstanding issues then move on to preparation of a DA which can then be shared with the community for feedback.”