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Dickson shops a major disappointment

By Paul Costigan - 18 February 2015 24

dickson shops

The proposal for the new Dickson supermarket site is the latest disappointment for residents in the way the ACT Government delivers on urban development within Canberra’s established suburbs.

In earlier discussions about Dickson, the consensus was that despite the centre having a special ambience, some visionary developments and upgrades were necessary to respond to the growing number of residents moving into the precinct.

Dickson residents and store holders actively participated in the development of a master plan for this shopping precinct. As things progressed, residents argued that the document seemed to be more a wish list and provided very little useful guidance details. It was also noted that the plan was not connected to any legislative processes and therefore may be ignored in future developments applications.

The first major initiative following the dubious master plan episode was the concept of the car park site being developed as a complex containing apartments, a supermarket and other smaller commercial outlets. Local residents initially responded positively to the idea of an alternative supermarket being built next to the present Woolworths. Residents appreciated that this was being guided by the ACT Government’s visionary policy to attract different supermarkets into Canberra, as competition to the dominance of the supermarket corporate duopoly.

However the proposal that was uploaded for comment over Christmas stunned many into silence. This proposal was just so wrong for Dickson. The shock was that if the development application was accepted, the present dominant supermarket corporations will have had their position enhanced rather than challenged. The proposal fails the government’s own supermarket competition policy.

Most astonishing was the lack of real attention to the many climate adaptation and sustainability issues. Disappointingly the Dickson proposal does not deliver 21st Century green infrastructure, landscape, solar, alternative energy, water re-use or climate change mitigation features. This should be no real surprise, as unfortunately the ACTPLA, despite all the available science, still requires a minimum form of greenwash within new developments.

Residents were invited to respond to the development application but were aware that at best they can only tinker around the edges. Given past experiences, the major aspects of this proposal will not be up for negotiations. For the planning authority to allow for major changes would signal that the whole process to date has been flawed. The agencies involved are not about to admit anything such as that. That is not within their nature.

Many people will blame the developers involved in these development applications. This is not quite right as developers do what they are allowed to do. The truth is the Dickson supermarket proposal is a consequence of the developers responding to the inadequacies within ACT Government’s development processes. To make matters more frustrating, residents are witnessing yet another proposal being progressed that seems to not deliver against the authority’s own requirements and various ACT Government policies.

Local residents have the perception of a culture within the ACT Government’s planning agencies that treats residents and their aspirations as hindrances to the needs of developments. This whole series of events has been a huge disappointment to residents and has increased the distrust of the ACT Government when it comes to planning and development.

Despite all of the above, residents wish to be engaged in decisions about their local urban areas. The dilemma for residents is to undertake arduous actions to bring about change or to stay silent and allow all these golden opportunities for improvements to pass by. Given that the ACT Government’s planning and development system is viewed as being hostile to the aspirations of the local residents, the option to remain silent would be the most peaceful choice and be less harmful to resident’s heath and welfare.

The culture within the ACT planning and development agencies desperately needs to change if Canberra is to be pleasing place to live and a 21st Century sustainable settlement.

The fault is very much with the elected ACT politicians and their lack of attention and transparency in dealing with urban issues.  I wonder whether the captain in charge has the right amount of visionary leadership on urban and climate issues.

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24 Responses to
Dickson shops a major disappointment
tooltime 8:36 pm 20 Feb 15

This development = a s**tfight. I’m all for growth & progress, but not like this.

I’d be getting out while I can, and I fear plenty of small businesses here will go to the wall as they won’t be able to sustain the downturn in trade during the construction period. The site will be overrun with construction machinery & equipment, the rock hammers & concrete cutters roaring during business hours. Getting a park now is tough-it will be much worse when the pool closes for the season & they assume that car park as well.

Look at Sydney. There’s paid parking nearly 24/7 in most shopping areas and anyplace worth going. Is this what we really want? It’s what we’ll get though under the guise of “rationing demand during peak periods”.

Finally, there’s already an oversupply in the unit market. What happens to the development if the presales aren’t there? The hipsters hate places like this, not green/edgy/organic/cool/artisan enough, what will we do then?

This won’t be the thing that broke Canberra-that will be the light rail fiasco & Mr Fluffy. But it does tarnish Ms Gallagher’s legacy…

dungfungus 6:02 pm 20 Feb 15

dungfungus said :

watto23 said :

On the bright side adding more residential will ease the pressure on existing residential that everyone complains about. People have probably got to accept that the whole Northbourne corridor is going to be medium to high density housing in the next 20 years. If you don’t like it now, then move while you can.

It amazes me that people complain about something, then when something is done, they don’t like that either.

I’m not pro this kind of slow light rail, but its going to be built and as a result Dickson will turn into a much bigger hub, with the idea that people can live in Dickson and not even need a car. My suggestion is leave now if you aren’t keen on the idea, because no matter what people say its going to happen.

It can “un-happen’ later on when it is discovered that the government will lose less ratepayers money by closing it down than keeping it going.
It has happened in Spain.

Sorry, I forgot to include the link:http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/light-rail/sydney-to-lease-velez-malaga-lrvs.html
Every ratepayer in Canberra should read this and see some rather obvious parallels with the proposed Canberra tram project.
Any chance the Canberra Times could follow this up? (I mean now, not in 5 years time).

dungfungus 5:57 pm 20 Feb 15

watto23 said :

dungfungus said :

watto23 said :

On the bright side adding more residential will ease the pressure on existing residential that everyone complains about. People have probably got to accept that the whole Northbourne corridor is going to be medium to high density housing in the next 20 years. If you don’t like it now, then move while you can.

It amazes me that people complain about something, then when something is done, they don’t like that either.

I’m not pro this kind of slow light rail, but its going to be built and as a result Dickson will turn into a much bigger hub, with the idea that people can live in Dickson and not even need a car. My suggestion is leave now if you aren’t keen on the idea, because no matter what people say its going to happen.

It can “un-happen’ later on when it is discovered that the government will lose less ratepayers money by closing it down than keeping it going.
It has happened in Spain.

Well yes they can stop it at any time of course. Given yesterdays news though that the sale of government owned buildings and ACTTAB to fund the light rail and construction due to start early next year, it seems like a foregone conclusion. The thing is until that transport corridor is fully developed it probably won’t turn a profit. Then again Action doesn’t run at a profit either.
The only real benefit I can see is more housing means less stress on housing costs, if we can get an over supply of housing then costs will come down, landlords will be upset though.

Has anyone twigged to the fact that if the government sells all the office buildings they nominated they will have to lease them back?
If they are planning to re-locate the public servants already in them the buildings will be impossible to sell them to investors.
The same result (raising $400 million) could be raised a lot cheaper by issuing bonds which will cap interest payments.
Paying rent (sale and lease back) is very open-ended – the government could even end up paying rates to themselves under the increasing cost regime as part of normal outgoings.
That would be farcical but that’s how Labor governments do business.
There is an air of desperation creeping in to this damn tram sham.

watto23 4:14 pm 20 Feb 15

dungfungus said :

watto23 said :

On the bright side adding more residential will ease the pressure on existing residential that everyone complains about. People have probably got to accept that the whole Northbourne corridor is going to be medium to high density housing in the next 20 years. If you don’t like it now, then move while you can.

It amazes me that people complain about something, then when something is done, they don’t like that either.

I’m not pro this kind of slow light rail, but its going to be built and as a result Dickson will turn into a much bigger hub, with the idea that people can live in Dickson and not even need a car. My suggestion is leave now if you aren’t keen on the idea, because no matter what people say its going to happen.

It can “un-happen’ later on when it is discovered that the government will lose less ratepayers money by closing it down than keeping it going.
It has happened in Spain.

Well yes they can stop it at any time of course. Given yesterdays news though that the sale of government owned buildings and ACTTAB to fund the light rail and construction due to start early next year, it seems like a foregone conclusion. The thing is until that transport corridor is fully developed it probably won’t turn a profit. Then again Action doesn’t run at a profit either.
The only real benefit I can see is more housing means less stress on housing costs, if we can get an over supply of housing then costs will come down, landlords will be upset though.

dungfungus 1:45 pm 20 Feb 15

watto23 said :

On the bright side adding more residential will ease the pressure on existing residential that everyone complains about. People have probably got to accept that the whole Northbourne corridor is going to be medium to high density housing in the next 20 years. If you don’t like it now, then move while you can.

It amazes me that people complain about something, then when something is done, they don’t like that either.

I’m not pro this kind of slow light rail, but its going to be built and as a result Dickson will turn into a much bigger hub, with the idea that people can live in Dickson and not even need a car. My suggestion is leave now if you aren’t keen on the idea, because no matter what people say its going to happen.

It can “un-happen’ later on when it is discovered that the government will lose less ratepayers money by closing it down than keeping it going.
It has happened in Spain.

watto23 9:24 am 20 Feb 15

On the bright side adding more residential will ease the pressure on existing residential that everyone complains about. People have probably got to accept that the whole Northbourne corridor is going to be medium to high density housing in the next 20 years. If you don’t like it now, then move while you can.

It amazes me that people complain about something, then when something is done, they don’t like that either.

I’m not pro this kind of slow light rail, but its going to be built and as a result Dickson will turn into a much bigger hub, with the idea that people can live in Dickson and not even need a car. My suggestion is leave now if you aren’t keen on the idea, because no matter what people say its going to happen.

oh_ 11:12 pm 19 Feb 15

Coles Manuka is probably another example of a mixed residential and retail development that seems to work well and fit in with the existing older square

oh_ 11:05 pm 19 Feb 15

500 units and a huge tall building spanning the whole carpark seems overbearing, and also cramming too much into too small a space, Id have thought something a couple stories high (eg retail on bottom, residential upstaris, like the corner Cape/Challis St buidling) and breaks between buildings would be more in keeping with the existing laneways and pedestrian malls orientation (I like the pedestrian mall part of Dickson and High Street feel but the right spruce up could help and it does feel sketchy after dark). Also the eat street is disconnected from the shops. Better to put a big monster building like proposed closer to the office buildings and motor registry on Northbourne, or the carpark beside the Shell and behind eat street and Trinity bar. When the new Canberra Centre on Bunda St came it took a bit of getting used to but that area has so much life now. Similarly Braddon is getting a lot more quirky shops and eateries where there used to be caryards but still retaining a bit of light industry grungy mix. Parking is a major consideration as already it is tight. They should also fix up the roads as you seem to always be waiting for cars to turn across each other here there and everywhere (perhaps more one lane streets, left only, in here out there etc). Doesnt Andrew Barr or his partner live in Dickson though? Maybe write or tweet him directly.

Queanbeyanite 10:16 pm 19 Feb 15

Why would you be surprised about redevelopment along Northbourne?

It’s no secret the local council is funding the eventual $1.2 Billion tram cost by flogging off the land either side for high density apartments. Isn’t that why they’re pocketing the increase in value from zoning changes?

Next time I’m there I’ll ask the beggars where they hide the ‘special ambience’. The plane trees do look nice, but I have no idea where the other 450 people are going to sit.

Paul Costigan 2:17 pm 19 Feb 15

Picking up on the use of the word ‘Vibrant’ as used ironically by another person above:

That word should be officially recognised as the biggest warning planners and developers can give residents that the development being proposed is actually a load of rubbish being marketed as something else.

The use of the word “Vibrant’ has become the most alarming word that planners/developers now use to disguise how bad their development proposal will be to the local community!

Paul Costigan 2:14 pm 19 Feb 15

More on the Dickson Shops developments:

The residents have lodged many submissions pointing out the deficiencies of the proposal; and have asked the Heritage Council to revisit their decision to sign off on something that breached a mandatory precinct code in relation to plonking such a monster right up against the library which is protected by heritage.

The pending ACTPLA decision will be regarded a strong signal to how serious the ACT Government is taking listening to voters (Time to Talk etc) and to their honesty in dealing with sustainability issues (climate change etc).

switch 9:38 am 19 Feb 15

chewy14 said :

There will be other underground parking provided, but haven’t you heard? You won’t need to drive to Dickson anymore, you can catch the monorail.

No, no, you’ve got it wrong. It will be a conventional two-rail tram. But like the GDE, they’ll lay one rail first, open it, and then just before the next election they’ll lay the other rail and open it again!

chewy14 9:08 am 19 Feb 15

sepi said :

the plan for dickson is really depressing.

Traffic around dickson is already terrible. Squeezing 500 households onto the current carpark site is going to create gridlock.

Not to mention how ugly it is going to look.

Being able to walk around the small shops at Dickson is one of the good points. but they are well on the way to turning it into a mall.

There will be other underground parking provided, but haven’t you heard? You won’t need to drive to Dickson anymore, you can catch the monorail.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 8:32 am 19 Feb 15

It won’t be crowded, it will be vibrant.

(Ha!)

sepi 10:54 pm 18 Feb 15

the plan for dickson is really depressing.

Traffic around dickson is already terrible. Squeezing 500 households onto the current carpark site is going to create gridlock.

Not to mention how ugly it is going to look.

Being able to walk around the small shops at Dickson is one of the good points. but they are well on the way to turning it into a mall.

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