11 April 2023

Fears 10-storey towers will change the face of Queanbeyan

| Travis Radford
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artist render of proposed building in Queanbeyan

The heritage frontage of the proposed development will retain two heritage-listed buildings already located on-site. Photo: Village Building Co.

The proposed housing, retail and entertainment precinct has been criticised by a local business owner for threatening the regional city’s identity.

Canberra developer Village Building Co lodged the application to build two 10-storey towers with the NSW Government in late January.

The proposed towers contain 178 residential units, a ground-level commercial and public space, and two levels of underground parking.

Village acquired the more than 5,000 square metre block designated for the estimated $86 million development in late 2021 for $8 million.

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Helen Ferguson’s community arts centre, The Queanbeyan Hive, is located on Crawford Street opposite the proposed development.

Ms Ferguson said the development threatened Queanbeyan’s distinctive country feel and heritage appeal.

“International travellers don’t necessarily want to go to big cities,” she said.

“They want to break out into the regional areas and see something that’s authentically regional.

“And are we saying that we’re just a suburb of Canberra? Or are we saying we have our own identity?”

Village Building Company ACT Region General Manager Jamie Cregan said the opposite was true.

“The development will be a catalyst for the regeneration of the Queanbeyan CBD,” he said.

“[It will] attract residents and visitors from both the local area and the ACT.”

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But Ms Ferguson said the development didn’t need to be so large to accomplish those aims.

“I’m not against big buildings or people moving into the area and I know the city’s got to develop,” she said.

“This is just way too big and dominating and hasn’t really been thought out.”

The developer has applied to exceed the 30-metre height limit imposed on buildings within the block of land.

However, Mr Cregan said the residential towers would be below the height of council’s adjacent civic and cultural precinct.

Once completed, the next-door precinct’s tallest tower would also exceed the maximum height limit at almost 33 metres high.

The same NSW Government planning panel deciding the fate of Village’s development approved council’s request to exceed the height limit in November 2020.

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Ms Ferguson said this was at odds with Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council’s (QPRC) 2025 tourism plan’s vision, which listed honouring heritage as a core ambition.

She also referenced council’s 2019 Queanbeyan CBD master plan, which stated the area of the proposed development would have “predominantly 4-8 storey [buildings]”.

Mr Cregan said Village’s development proposal is consistent with the plan and highlighted a key goal of it was to increase workers and residents in Queanbeyan’s CBD.

“This development also provides much-needed housing diversity and choice for the people of Queanbeyan and the region,” he said.

“The development is in close proximity to a much greater range of amenities than are available in other town centres.”

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The developer has applied to demolish several non-heritage buildings, while two heritage buildings on-site will be included in the heritage frontage.

“This frontage will create a focus on Queanbeyan’s heritage through raised community gardens and the reuse of materials from the demolition of the non-heritage buildings,” Mr Cregan said.

“There will be a reinterpretation of the well into a drinking fountain for community use and a lemon grove referencing the former lemonade factory.

“The ground floor of the proposed buildings through the brick and material selection … will complement the existing heritage buildings.”

But Ms Ferguson said the single-storey heritage buildings would be overshadowed by Village’s 10-storey residential towers.

Ms Ferguson also questioned whether noise pollution and increased traffic from council’s adjacent development had been considered.

Mr Cregan said providing almost 300 parking spaces would mitigate any pressure on existing parking.

“The development provides 95 more car parking spaces than required by planning legislation,” he said.

He said pedestrians would also be served by a central laneway designated as an “eat street”.

Public submissions for Village’s development proposal have closed.

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Capital Retro10:28 pm 08 Apr 23

If they allow EV parking/charging in the basement they won’t get insurance so it is unlikely they will even get started.

And everyone thought inflammable cladding (which hasn’t been addressed yet) was a problem on high rise buildings.

@Capital Retro
“If they allow EV parking/charging in the basement they won’t get insurance so it is unlikely they will even get started.”
Do you ever consider fact checking the truth of your own statements before you post them? Which insurance company/ies won’t provide building insurance to complexes which allow EV parking/charging? Maybe if you do a bit of searching you can find an insurance company underwritten by the fossil fuel industry.
Your falsehoods might appeal to the anti-EV brigade but that doesn’t make them true.

devils_advocate10:26 am 09 Apr 23

I’ve just been through an EV special threat risk assessment for a class B (some people will know what that means).

Couple of observations:
– new basements are basically being fire rated and ventilated on the assumption that someone will park an EV under there (whether it’s being charged there or not)

-if an EV explodes there’s not a lot they can do, the new threat risk assessments are really just for the safety of the firefighters (which is fair enough)

-the bigger EV risk is with previously built class Bs. It’s financially unfeasible (probably technically unfeasible) to retrofit them. They only require such retrofit if they apply to have charging infrastructure. If an EV explodes under such a building the insurance company might refuse the claim.

Will be interesting to see if bodies corporate start banning EVs from parking within a certain distance of the structures.

I commend you for a very well presented analysis … a bit different from others, who simply choose to make up the facts to suit their narrative.

devils_advocate, I would not want to live in an apartment building with EVs parked underneath. Imagine if one exploded and started a chain reaction.

devils_advocate12:37 pm 10 Apr 23

@Maya123 I mean fair enough. New class B’s don’t get a choice in the matter the new threat risk assessment is required regardless of whether you actually install charging infrastructure, because someone might park there. The new requirements are a condition of BA and you can’t avoid it by committing to ban EVs in the body corporate rules.

The real question will be with existing B class structures (which are not required to be retrofitted) if there is a fire in the basement from an EV and the building is a total loss, will the claim be honoured? Can’t necessarily assume the EV owner will have insurance.

HiddenDragon7:50 pm 08 Apr 23

That part of Queanbeyan has a charm and character which grows over many years. It has a classic country town NSW feel which distinguishes it from the blandness of the could-be-anywhere-in-suburbia look of much of the newer bits of the town (and of the larger town across the border) so it’s good that the presence of a few heritage-listed buildings on the site means that the new apartment buildings won’t be as imposing as they otherwise might.

There are some nice old buildings in Canberra, but blocking this over heritage is silly this will allow alot of people to live walking distance to amenities , reducing the need to drive . This would give queanbeyan business a much need boost . Heritage is great untill you have to live in it . Heritage building are usually poorly designed engery inefficient. Just ask anyone stuck in a old flat or heritage house . Unless you have $$$ to Reno the old house . These people need to wake up to the real world

I think the character of the old buildings in Queanbeyan are better than the ones in Canberra, and the layout design is more amorphic than some of the sterile Canberran suburbs….you have a stright “high Street’ with oodles of potential on either side. The potential for Queanbeyan is enormous with some very large plots of land available that are just featureless, but interspersed with alleyways and shortcuts that can create real interest…….if only there was something of interest on the other side to make people want to walk that way.
I don’t think anybody here is arguing over being forced to live in a heritage facility, it’s crying out for sympathic aesthetic design to complement a town that needs growth and investment but should also respect the facades and features and protect that character for the first 2 stories from the ground. Incorporate those into a design. Whether this means careful management of the developer and insisting on a little bit more to be spent on retention, preservation or refurbishment, so be it. If they want 10 stories and increased profit above the 6-8 storey limit, let them spend a little more on the ground. Australia has enough garbage going up in the big cities, so lets make this one a good one and something to be proud of.

Nick Stevens5:30 pm 07 Apr 23

Looks good, and about time. Hopefully becomes a reality.

Increased density in the centre of Queanbeyan will only improve the business case for light rail connections into Canberra, but will also bring in more food businesses which we know people like.

I am not sure international travelers are coming to see Queanbeyan’s existing architecture. The benefit to the whole town must be considered over one neighbor. Keen to see “Struggle town” grow.

Jenny Morgan12:31 pm 07 Apr 23

This is positive progress for our community, Queanbeyan will re-emerge like a phoenix from the stigma that surrounds it. Opening doors to a younger generation of buyers who are out priced over the border, making Queanbeyan once again a leader in our region.

Hopefully we can attract some great new food venues and excitement into our town centre. This is exactly what this town needs!

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