Coles blames COVID-19 for delay to Dickson development

Ian Bushnell 3 June 2020
Artist's impression of proposed Dickson Village development.

Artist’s impression of the proposed Dickson Village development. Image: Supplied.

The proposed Coles supermarket and mixed-use development at Dickson shops has been delayed, with the supermarket giant blaming the COVID-19 crisis for not starting the controversial project.

ACT Planning and Land Management Minister Mick Gentleman used his call-in powers last July to give the $70 million Dickson Village project the green light, and work was expected to start within six months.

But the 7866-square-metre site on the corner of Antill and Badham streets, on open car park space opposite Woolworths and the Dickson Library, remains untouched.

Coles said in a statement it remained committed to delivering a world-class retail and residential precinct in Dickson that meets the needs of local residents.

Like many construction and engineering projects around Australia, disruptions associated with COVID-19 have led to some delays in commencement of works,” said the statement.

”We will keep the community informed about further timelines and when construction is due to commence on the site.”

The development has a long and chequered history, including community opposition that resulted in Coles’ first proposal being overturned in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) in 2019.

The proposed outdoor shared zone at Dickson Village.

The proposed outdoor shared zone at Dickson Village. Image: Supplied.

The second, approved proposal was generally considered a more people-friendly development that endeavoured to address community concerns, but there were still worries about temporary off-site parking during construction, traffic management and the preservation of Dickson Library.

In July 2019, Mr Gentleman said the decision to call in the project would provide certainty to residents and business owners in the area, more than four years after the original development application was submitted.

Coles plans a two-to-seven-storey mixed-use development with 140 residential units, one supermarket instead of the two originally proposed, other ground-floor retail and commercial tenancies, a podium car park, and two levels of basement car parking. Office space previously planned was dropped.

The building at full height will reach 24 metres, and the units will be a mix of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom dwellings. There will also be a 10-metre buffer between it and Dickson Library.

In 2018, ACAT found the original proposal did not meet requirements of site planning and urban design, and did not provide an efficient, safe and attractive urban environment, with an insufficient streetscape and poor landscaping. It also did not provide sufficient traffic and pedestrian safety, or a safe and attractive shared zone.

ACAT also found the proposal did not respect the urban setting of the heritage-registered Dickson Library, or provide a sufficient buffer zone. Coles went to the ACT Supreme Court but those proceedings were adjourned.

The original development application of 12 December 2014 was for a seven-storey development containing two supermarkets and other ground-floor and first-floor commercial tenancies, 155 residential units, two levels of basement car parking, a podium-level car park and associated works off-site.

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