The ACT Government appears to be hedging its bets when it comes to the release of two blocks in Casey adjacent to the Group Centre, which the Gungahlin Community Council believes should be reserved for community use.
Blocks 12 and 13 Section 132 adjacent to the Casey Group Centre are zoned CZ1, which allows for a mix of uses, including community, residential and commercial. The Indicative Land Release Program says there is a potential yield of 100 residential dwellings and 24,000 square metres of commercial area.
The land was handed back to the government in a deal with the developer of the Casey Group Centre and is included in the government’s current assessment of community and recreational facilities in Gungahlin.
But the council is concerned that it remains unclear whether the land will actually be used for community facilities.
It is also questioning a technical amendment that is being done to allow the 100 dwelling target and commercial area of 24,000 square metres to be realised while “allowing adequate space for community uses to be delivered along with car parking”.
The technical amendment will raise building heights from two storeys to four storeys fronting Kingsland Parade and reduce them from three to two storeys towards Horse Park Drive.
A number of studies have already been done for Casey, including its own Community and Recreation Facilities Needs Assessment and a Retail and Commercial Needs Assessment for the Casey Group Centre, which were completed in 2019.
The directorate says that community feedback had noted the importance of considering the Casey sites within the larger context of Gungahlin as a whole, and the current assessment will consider the Casey studies in its recommendations.
But council president Peter Elford said the previous assessment found that more commercial development was not needed in the area. He is concerned that the community’s needs will not be met.
He fears the consultation process is not set up to find out what the community really needs and that an online survey of individuals will be inadequate.
Mr Elford said it is not just about where community services could be supplied but what the actual demand for them is.
He said the planning directorate should talk to the service providers, sporting groups and faith-based groups to determine exactly what that demand is and how much land is required.
“It needs to be proactively driven by talking to existing and potential service providers and community groups in the region,” he says.
“It’s not clear what’s going on. It seems big picture, but if you scratch at it, it seems like they’re only trying to sort out what they’re going to do with this site and that site.”
An EPSDD spokesperson said the use of these blocks would be informed by the feedback from the community consultation and assessment process before they are released.
Asked if the private sector is likely to deliver and operate possible community facilities, the spokesperson said the 24,000 square metre allocation could be used for various commercial uses.
“The outcomes of the current consultation on community facilities and needs in Gungahlin will be considered prior to final release. This will help inform the most suitable community facility uses for the Casey blocks,” the spokesperson said.
EPSDD contracted SGS Economics and Planning to conduct a desktop audit of existing and proposed facilities in Gungahlin and bordering suburbs, a community engagement program, and a demand and gap analysis to identify the area’s needs and where facilities could be built.