6 March 2024

Coombs and Wright village step closer with Suburban Land Agency DA imminent

| Ian Bushnell
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Coombs village plans

An early concept for the Coombs and Wright Village in the Molonglo Valley. Image: ACT Government.

It’s nearly three years since plans were unveiled to give Coombs and Wright a beating heart in the form of an urban village that would include a shaded main street, public plaza and shared space, shops and cafes and a new community centre.

Now a development application from the Suburban Land Agency (SLA) is imminent for the project, which will also include 300 apartments, on the intersection of John Gorton Drive, Fred Daly Avenue in Coombs and Steve Irwin Avenue in Wright.

Three corner blocks have sat vacant adorned with ‘For Sale’ signs but little progress appeared to be happening.

But the SLA’s Development Director in Molonglo, Simon Tennant said the lodging of the DA with the Planning Authority would be a step towards the selection of a developer from the two-stage expression of interest sales process for the land.

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Mr Tennant said the expiration of a previous DA and Estate Development Plan (EDP) meant that the project work had to start from scratch.

“So unlike some other projects that we do, where there’s a smoother pathway, we had to go and completely draw up brand new EDP,” he said.

The SLA also had to consult extensively with the community.

One of the three blocks for sale, on the corner of John Gorton Drive and Fred Daly Avenue.

One of the three blocks for sale, on the corner of John Gorton Drive and Fred Daly Avenue. The community centre will be built opposite Coombs Park. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

At present the intersection is dominated by the multi-storey Koko Molonglo mixed use development, which includes a new Woolworths Metro supermarket and shops, and to a lesser extent the Coombs shops, where a gastropub, cafe, pizza outlet and two grocers are finally bring some life to the area.

Mr Tennant said the village vision, framework and design responded to all of those current uses.

“We’re going to see quite a bit of activation down there in terms of ground floor mixed use; we’re going to see around about 300 apartments, which will be right on that concentrated intersection as well,” he said.

The plans also aimed to revitalise Coombs Park, introducing water play, a stage and a Men’s Shed, as well as proceeding with the new Coombs Community Centre opposite on the corner of Fred Daly Avenue and Beecroft Street.

The multi-storey community centre will overlook the central park and be available to community groups under the management and ownership of the government’s ACT Property Group.

The design from Townsend and Associate Architects is included in the village DA, and initial works are expected to begin in 2025.

The DA includes plans to revitalise Coombs Park, which will have water play, a stage and Men's Shed.

The DA includes plans to revitalise Coombs Park, which will have water play, a stage and a Men’s Shed. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Mr Tennant said there had been a very strong response to the SLA’s land sale process.

“We’ve been in contact with those who have made their way through that first stage and we’ve been alerting them to the fact that our DA is imminent,” he said.

Once the DA was approved, the short list of tenderers would go through the final stage and a developer chosen.

Mr Tennant said the SLA hoped to have the process wrapped up by the last quarter of 2024.

“The successful tenderer will be responsible for what they do on their block. The Suburban Land Agency under the guidance of the Minister will be doing all of the road upgrades and the public realm upgrades as well as the park upgrades. So it’s an integrated approach,” he said.

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Suburban Development Minister Yvette Berry acknowledged the project had taken some time but said it was important to get it right.

“There’s been a wealth of, of community consultation leading up to the release of the development application,” she said. “And the feedback that we’ve had so far has been positive about the vision for that area.

“We’ve worked so hard with the community and that consultation takes a bit of time, but it means we get the best possible outcome and, hopefully, won’t have the kinds of delays that you might have if you don’t consult fully.”

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