The long-awaited Gungahlin cinema development is set to break ground next month after the appointment of the company to build the $15 million project.
The owner of the site on the corner Hinder and Efkarpidis Streets in the Town Centre next to Gungahlin Village, Gungahlin Lifestyle, has given the job to Construction Control, which has offices in Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.
On-site preparations will start this month, with construction proper to begin in August. The project is due to be completed in February 2022.
Despite limited parking and optimistic traffic projections, the ACT Planning and Land Authority 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.
Not far from the light rail terminus, the mixed-use development will comprise 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, but the planning authority was swayed by arguments that the Code only required one space per 12 seats in the city centre, equal to 136 spaces.
It also acknowledged the proposal’s proximity to light rail 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.
The cinema proposal goes back to 2012 and the planning authority took community expectations into account.
“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 said in the Notice of Decision.
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.
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 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.