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Dickson supermarket and the appeal – the next stage

By Paul Costigan - 17 November 2016 17

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The Appeal against the recently approved development application (DA) for the Dickson supermarket complex goes to its next phase very soon (see dates below).

Here’s a quick take on the background to this story so far. Since the appeal was lodged a couple of months ago this whole matter has become much larger than the usual residential appeal.

Evidence of this is the number of high-level lawyers now involved and the range of experts, both local and national, that are being brought together to bolster the different cases.

Not long after the appeal work commenced, parties submitted subpoenas requesting more documents be handed over by the ACT Government. This matter ended up in a three hour session in front of the ACAT President a couple of weeks ago. Those matters were resolved but what was also interesting were the comments about the coming appeal sessions itself.

The President in the course of various decisions on the subpoenas made it clear that the appeal was about staying relevant to the matter at hand. That is, she considered matters to do with how this development proposal came about, for example the dealings between the LDA and developers etc, were most likely not relevant to this appeal.

What she saw as being relevant were the arguments on the reasons behind the decision by the planning directorate to allow this revised development application by Coles/Doma– being the development of the supermarket complex, two supermarkets and an apartment block, on the site of the car park next to Woolworths and the Dickson Library.

At the end of the former session, all parties also agreed that this appeal was now much bigger than anyone had anticipated. It was originally set down to be nine days and to take place within the largest ACAT hearing rooms. Not so it seems.

It has now been forecast that it may require more days and therefore there may have to be an adjournment and for there to be a follow-up session in January. The other matter was the ACAT room itself. It was seen as being too small for the large number of lawyers and their teams required plus all the expert witnesses.

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As a result, this ACAT appeal will now be staged within the Magistrate’s Court–which is over in the ACT Court buildings.

I was present as an interested member of the public during that hearing on the subpoenas, and I have to say, this is definitely becoming something extraordinary. The notion that ACAT processes were meant to be simple and more accessible is definitely being tested through this whole process over the Dickson supermarkets. The room was awash with lawyers, boxes and suitcases of files. The number of lawyers was amazing and this will increase with the actual appeal session.

What makes this appeal something to watch is that this is not simply about the local residents taking on the big guns of Coles/Doma. Charter Hall, the landlords of the Woolworths supermarket, are leading the main appeal application and therefore more resources are being committed to having the decision overturned.

A little reminder here as to what the residents are mostly complaining about. It is not just that there are to be more supermarkets and new buildings, it is more about the size of the thing and that it is a monster.

Have a look at the photo-shopped images (in the header and below) used in the development application – and then compare this to the graphic (further below) that is in circulation to illustrate what it really looks like in the context of the other buildings.

The actual appeal is based on a range of issues that cannot be aired here. You will need to attend the sessions to witness all that.

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dickson-coles-supermarket

I suggest that if such disputes occur in the future over planning decisions, that it would be cheaper and more effective to put everyone concerned in a large room with heaps of wonderful  food and drink–no lawyers– and tell them to stay there till resolutions are agreed to. Much more economical and far less daunting.

Watch this space as this appeal will have a serious effect on the future the Dickson Centre no matter which way the final decisions go.

If you are interested in observing any or all of the sessions, there is a public gallery in the ACT Magistrates Court. The hearing (Charter Hall Retail v ACTPLA) begins 28 November and is scheduled to run for 9 days.

Special mention: I have used photos of documents and graphics from Jane Goffman’s local blog, Dicksonia Magnifica, through which she has kept locals up to date while she and others have been dealing with the mountains of documents for this ACAT appeal.

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Dickson supermarket and the appeal – the next stage
1
reddy84 1:59 pm
17 Nov 16
#

Surprise surprise, Woolies has hired lawyers to protect their ‘most profitable supermarket in the southern hemisphere’. This is Giralang all over again.
It should be noted that when development proposals get taken to ACAT by the NCCC, it costs the tax payer and the developer hundreds of thousands of dollars. Thanks…. This is a problem with a no cost system.
Your Sketchup picture has been created to deliberately exaggerate the size of the proposal. If you created all the scale from the wider Dickson context, you would see it would fit in well.

2
madelini 9:50 am
18 Nov 16
#

I’m sorry Paul, but an appeal led by Woollies and their owners doesn’t seem rational to me. I have commented before about how protests by the Resident’s Group comes across as more of a fear of change than actual dislike of the plans.

Years ago, Dickson on the outer edges of Canberra. Now it is not. The current shopping complex is underutilised, outdated and impractical. Change needs to happen. It is now the main hub for thousands of people in the new developments in the Inner North, and it is woefully inadequate in its current state. It is a big development, but there is a big chunk of Canberra’s population who live around it and it should be able to serve them better than it does currently. Anything to provide better service, more jobs and more variety for consumers should be welcomed, not condemned out of spite.

3
Holden Caulfield 1:04 pm
18 Nov 16
#

madelini said :

I’m sorry Paul, but an appeal led by Woollies and their owners doesn’t seem rational to me. I have commented before about how protests by the Resident’s Group comes across as more of a fear of change than actual dislike of the plans.

Years ago, Dickson on the outer edges of Canberra. Now it is not. The current shopping complex is underutilised, outdated and impractical. Change needs to happen. It is now the main hub for thousands of people in the new developments in the Inner North, and it is woefully inadequate in its current state. It is a big development, but there is a big chunk of Canberra’s population who live around it and it should be able to serve them better than it does currently. Anything to provide better service, more jobs and more variety for consumers should be welcomed, not condemned out of spite.

You had me at, “I’m sorry Paul”

Times change. Commercial property in Civic used to only be the Melbourne and Sydney Buildings too. Now there’s buildings reaching the terrifying heights of 12 floors!!!

It’s right to show concern about planning issues, but I also think madelini’s final words in the quote above are closer to the truth than any of the critics would care to admit publicly.

4
Lerenor 11:04 pm
18 Nov 16
#

Protest of the ACT government’s planning processes is all well and good (as with anything there’s always room to do things better and there should be appropriate scrutiny to allow it), but the opposition to this particular development seems to be a bit blown out of proportion. Considering that another development of almost the same size is currently going up just 100 or so meters down Antill street and there’s been almost nothing from the concerned “Dickson residents” on that, your self-admitted focus on its ‘monstrous’ proportions would seem to boil down to nothing more than ‘I don’t like it’. It might not be the best building ever, but just because it isn’t an opulent 6-(green?) star palazzo that only “Dickson residents” can actually afford doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be built, particularly considering the amenity improving choice and competition amongst supermarkets in the Inner North’s burgeoning commercial centre would provide to a large number of northside residents. Playing into the commercial posturing between Coles and Woolworths is not the story of the little guy taking on the big bad government, and we all end up worse off as a result of it. Sincerely, a Dickson resident who isn’t a “Dickson resident”.

5
sepi 2:10 pm
20 Nov 16
#

This thing is a mess. Looking at the last picture, it goes right up to the footpath, removing all trees and grass – why? This will just make the footpath along Antill st thin and dangerous. It is against planning rules to go so close to the road – that is one good reason to complain.

Dickson does need improvement, but this isn’t it. they are leaving all of dickson exactly as it is,, but shading it out with a tall mall and apartments, and removing parking, trees and grass. It just doesn’t seem like an improvement.
Perhaps no one is complaining about the other development because it isn’t breaking all the codes?

6
Hillbilly 5:21 pm
21 Nov 16
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I’m just one local resident that is totally in favour of this development. We desperately need an extra supermarket or two and this shopping centre given a much overdue overhaul. I’m tired of reading about this appeals stuff and the delays that it causes. Sure it’s not perfect (and there will be disruption with construction) but it’s way, way better than what is there now and is desperately needed.

7
rommeldog56 9:24 am
22 Nov 16
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Hillbilly said :

I’m just one local resident that is totally in favour of this development. Sure it’s not perfect (and there will be disruption with construction) but it’s way, way better than what is there now and is desperately needed.

Its now the Canberra way. I want, I want and I want it now. So, I’ll accept any old proposal. Thats why we have the Tram.

8
random 3:19 pm
22 Nov 16
#

rommeldog56 said :

So, I’ll accept any old proposal. Thats why we have the Tram.

There’s some truth to that, but the proposal on the table is a lot better than what we’ve got now. I have to assume that residents assisting on the appeal prefer the status quo, because they’ve gotten into bed with Charter Hall and what Charter Hall wants is to delay the development as long as possible or get it cancelled entirely. They don’t want a compromise because they don’t want the competition at all.

I am a Dickson resident and I think the cost/benefit comes out in favour.

The Giralang shops debacle is a nice example of how this could all go wrong.

9
planeguy 5:30 pm
22 Nov 16
#

This design is an appalling indictment on modern ‘architecture’, and I have a few minor concerns about the separation from the street, but apart from that there is not much wrong with it from a planning perspective. Dickson is an appropriate location for higher density buildings, particularly in the actual town centre, especially if they reinforce the commercial/restaurant strip.

This location is close to the tram, won’t overshadow any houses (it may cast a shadow on a McDonalds and the Library occaisionally)

10
sepi 9:25 pm
22 Nov 16
#

I hope you are right, I really want this to work out, but it seems like a dud to me. It is a box stuck in the middle of the two outdoor bits of Dickson – the cafe/newsagent courtyard and the restaurant strip.

It brings a new supermarket to Dickson, which people want, but it cuts off the old one from any parking, so where is the benefit? The new one will be the only option, and queues will still be long.

And higher density in Dickson makes sense, close to the tram – but this building is going right to the edge of the foothpath next to Antill, so the walk to the tram will be a dusty windtunnel. There is a nice grass verge there now, with big shady trees – why not leave it there?

It just seems like more cars, more traffic, more people, and much worse roads, footpaths and parking. New is not always better.

11
JC 7:58 pm
24 Nov 16
#

sepi said :

I hope you are right, I really want this to work out, but it seems like a dud to me. It is a box stuck in the middle of the two outdoor bits of Dickson – the cafe/newsagent courtyard and the restaurant strip.

It brings a new supermarket to Dickson, which people want, but it cuts off the old one from any parking, so where is the benefit? The new one will be the only option, and queues will still be long.

And higher density in Dickson makes sense, close to the tram – but this building is going right to the edge of the foothpath next to Antill, so the walk to the tram will be a dusty windtunnel. There is a nice grass verge there now, with big shady trees – why not leave it there?

It just seems like more cars, more traffic, more people, and much worse roads, footpaths and parking. New is not always better.

re the parking issue, if you take a look at the development application, the underground park in the new building will serve all 3 supermarkets. It showed an escalator coming up to an external exit. Straight ahead was Woolworths and the existing ‘wonderful’ 1960’s Dickson wind tunnel shopping centre, turn right you go towards Coles and left towards Aldi and the library.

12
wildturkeycanoe 8:03 am
25 Nov 16
#

JC said :

re the parking issue, if you take a look at the development application, the underground park in the new building will serve all 3 supermarkets. It showed an escalator coming up to an external exit. Straight ahead was Woolworths and the existing ‘wonderful’ 1960’s Dickson wind tunnel shopping centre, turn right you go towards Coles and left towards Aldi and the library.

It took me some digging to find a plan view of the proposed supermarket and I am astounded how hard it is to find any details on the new Coles multi-storey apart from the dramatic 3D pics on media stories. Where are the details in the government master plans?
I can see a real problem for Woolworths who are going to have their customers cross a very busy road in order to get to their store. Why would you have the public vehicle entrance to the new complex in the same location as the main pedestrian crossing to the adjacent shops? This is reminiscent of the Woden Westfield design, where the entry to the mall is slow, stop-start traffic needing to give way to all the customers going to and from the outdoor car park. This is very poor planning.
I wondered why there was so much opposition to the new proposal but after looking at some of the designs, I can understand why. There are so many aspects of the new designs that make no sense at all. That and a lack of any proper plans or images that show how it will affect the area around the new structure. Sure the master plan has had a lot of research done on traffic and pedestrian movement, which is all good work. But it is all undone with the introduction of this monolith that doesn’t take any of the master plan’s recommendations into consideration. Traffic flow and pedestrian movement is hampered by the new designs, instead of enhancing it. No wonder local residents and shop owners are opposed.

13
bringontheevidence 8:41 am
25 Nov 16
#

I think Charter Hall are the only ones that see the elephant in the room.

Once the new shops are developed Charter Hall will be put under a huge amount of pressure by their main tenant (Woolworths) to redevelop the existing Dickson shops to compete. They’re about to go from a comfy arrangement where they are reaping big rent dollars from an ageing set of buildings to one where they’ll have to stump up upwards of $50 million just to keep an income stream.

My prediction is that the existing Dickson supermarket will begin redevelopment within a couple of years of the new Doma development opening for business.

14
JC 11:19 am
25 Nov 16
#

bringontheevidence said :

I think Charter Hall are the only ones that see the elephant in the room.

Once the new shops are developed Charter Hall will be put under a huge amount of pressure by their main tenant (Woolworths) to redevelop the existing Dickson shops to compete. They’re about to go from a comfy arrangement where they are reaping big rent dollars from an ageing set of buildings to one where they’ll have to stump up upwards of $50 million just to keep an income stream.

My prediction is that the existing Dickson supermarket will begin redevelopment within a couple of years of the new Doma development opening for business.

Think you are spot on and unlike what others above are saying the appeal is being lodged by them and not by Wollies.

15
JC 11:22 am
25 Nov 16
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

JC said :

re the parking issue, if you take a look at the development application, the underground park in the new building will serve all 3 supermarkets. It showed an escalator coming up to an external exit. Straight ahead was Woolworths and the existing ‘wonderful’ 1960’s Dickson wind tunnel shopping centre, turn right you go towards Coles and left towards Aldi and the library.

It took me some digging to find a plan view of the proposed supermarket and I am astounded how hard it is to find any details on the new Coles multi-storey apart from the dramatic 3D pics on media stories. Where are the details in the government master plans?
I can see a real problem for Woolworths who are going to have their customers cross a very busy road in order to get to their store. Why would you have the public vehicle entrance to the new complex in the same location as the main pedestrian crossing to the adjacent shops? This is reminiscent of the Woden Westfield design, where the entry to the mall is slow, stop-start traffic needing to give way to all the customers going to and from the outdoor car park. This is very poor planning.
I wondered why there was so much opposition to the new proposal but after looking at some of the designs, I can understand why. There are so many aspects of the new designs that make no sense at all. That and a lack of any proper plans or images that show how it will affect the area around the new structure. Sure the master plan has had a lot of research done on traffic and pedestrian movement, which is all good work. But it is all undone with the introduction of this monolith that doesn’t take any of the master plan’s recommendations into consideration. Traffic flow and pedestrian movement is hampered by the new designs, instead of enhancing it. No wonder local residents and shop owners are opposed.

There are no details in the government master plan because that is not what master plans are for.

The details of the development were on the Act planning website when the development was open for comment.

Tend to agree the carpark entries are less than ideal that’s for sure. But as for Wollies customers needing to cross a road should point out that is not too different to today anyway. People need to cross the carpark and the access road to the carpark. So status quo on that front really.

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