15 January 2021

Dickson shops development in sight as Coles finds new partner

| Ian Bushnell
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Artist's impression of the Dickson Village development

Coming soon?: An artist’s impression of the Dickson Village development. Photo: File.

The long-delayed Dickson shops development may finally get off the ground by autumn with Coles finding a new partner to deliver the $70 million project.

ACT Planning and Land Management Minister Mick Gentleman used his call-in powers in July 2019 to give the Dickson Village project the green light, and work was expected to start within six months.

But the loss of the development partner and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused the project to languish as others in Dickson near the Northbourne corridor proliferate.

Coles has decided to partner with Canberra developer TP Dynamics and is in the process of finalising contracts for it to deliver the project on the 7866-square-metre site on the corner of Antill and Badham streets, on open car park space opposite Woolworths and the Dickson Library.

TP Dynamics is behind the Wish residential development in Bruce.

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Coles said in a statement that it had reached an agreement for TP Dynamics to deliver a new world-class retail and residential precinct in Dickson in line with development approvals already in place.

”The development will include a new Coles supermarket, offering residents more choice, great value and an enhanced shopping experience,” it said.

”We anticipate construction will be able to commence later this year and we will keep the community informed on further progress.”

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.

Coles will be keen to establish itself in the inner north, which is undergoing a population boom as the Northbourne corridor is developed. The Dickson Woolworths is one of Australia’s busiest and the big supermarket chain recently announced that a smaller Metro store will be established in the area.

Plaza view

A plaza view of the development.

The growing inner north community will also welcome the development, despite its long and chequered history, including Coles’ first proposal being overturned in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) in 2019.

But if work gets underway in April or May, there is concern that little preparatory work has been done to provide the alternative parking for centre customers that will be needed when ground is finally broken.

Hundreds of car spaces are at stake, and there are concerns that without at least 150 interim spaces during the two-year construction period, businesses in the area already struggling due to COVID-19 will take a further hit.

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

Mr Gentleman said at the time 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.

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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.

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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Totally overdue. God, what a dump Dickson shops are. Filthy and wholly inadequate.

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