The group battling the proposed development on sections of the Gold Creek Country Club in Nicholls has won more time to comment on the plans after eight development applications were lodged at once.
The club was bought from the ACT Government for $3 million in 2005. Gungahlin Golf Investments (GGI) has proposed a $330 million, 694-dwelling, build-to-rent development over 10 years on what it describes as 7.5 hectares of underused land on Curran Drive, Nicholls.
The eight DAs from GGI each represent a stage of the 10-year development and reflect the master plan developed for the project.
They all seek lease variations for extra Gross Floor Area, adding up to a 10-fold increase from 8000 square metres currently permitted to 82,210 sqm.
Commercial accommodation for short and long-term rental in the form of townhouses and apartments from two to four storeys in height, with two to four bedrooms, as well as shops, communal amenities and a new access road from the existing roundabout on Curran Drive are proposed.
GGI says the new housing will help meet the shortage of rental accommodation in Canberra, although it is not being done through the government’s build-to-rent scheme.
It says the proceeds will be ploughed back into the golf course, saying the income is needed to ensure the country club’s viability.
But the Community of Nicholls Residents Group (CNRG) contests this, saying GGI is using the golf course as a land bank.
CNRG said in a statement that it had requested a lengthy extension of time to the “ridiculously short” notification period set by the ACT Planning and Land Authority, with the period for community representations now closing on 12 January.
It said there is apparently also a ninth DA for a subdivision of the Crown Lease, not yet notified, upon which the other DAs are dependent.
“The notification of eight, probably nine, inter-related staged, complex DAs for a suburb-changing and defining development this close to Christmas is very challenging for the community,” CNRG said.
A GGI spokesperson said the proposal had been carefully developed as a masterplan for the area and the ACT Planning and Land Authority preferred to consider and assess the proposal as a whole.
The spokesperson could not say what the timeline was for the overall development and when each stage would be built.
“Exact timeframes and final sequencing dependent upon market conditions and feasibility, as well as workforce and materials availability for development,” the spokesperson said.
There are no major changes to GGI’s plans from consultation, during which there was feedback about the scale of the development and potential loss of green space.
“We considered this feedback and are comfortable that retaining 25 per cent open space on the development is appropriate,” the spokesperson said.
“We have also retained the initially proposed building heights as we are comfortable they are appropriate when considering the slope of the site and surrounding streetscape.
“We have undertaken significant work to create a unique and high-quality development to foster an integrated development with the golf course and surrounds.”
But CNRG said the project would require major infrastructure works for which there was no prior approval.
CNRG argues that the land’s current PRZ2 zoning does not allow commercial accommodation and that a Territory Plan Variation is required before any stage of the development proposal can proceed, “at which point, CNRG would then also raise its large number of other specific concerns about such a huge suburb-defining development, including, but not confined to, scale, density, height, being not in keeping with the surrounding environment, and traffic and wildlife corridor issues”.
The DAs’ traffic report from TTW estimates the entire development will generate 4529 vehicles a day, 421 in the morning and 448 in the evening peaks.
It identifies the intersection of Curran Drive and Barton Highway as the only one of concern, saying it is already in need of an upgrade and this will be further compounded by the anticipated growth, especially with future estates currently under construction in the Yass Valley, which are expected to increase traffic on the Barton Highway before the country club development is completed.
TTW recommends the government coordinate the required upgrades at Barton Highway and Curran Drive with the proposed development to minimise disruption to the road network.
It says basement and garage parking of 1395 spaces is proposed for the overall development, more than required. Eight visitor spaces have been allocated for stages H1 and H2. A further 96 on-street parking spaces are provided around the development.
All eight of the DAs can be found on the Planning website.