There are fears that the developing Molonglo Valley is now a two-tier district, with Denman Prospect leaving Coombs and Wright languishing in its wake.
The claim comes as Coombs residents continue to fear for the future of its still unopened shopping centre and the prospect of a Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food outlet in Wright has many worried about the area’s direction.
Alison Hutchison, who led a petition to the ACT Government about delays with the Coombs shops, says it appears Denman Prospect, being developed by the Snow family’s Capital Airport Group, is surging ahead and providing the kinds of services that both Coombs and Wright residences have been long waiting for.
Last month an IGA supermarket opened at the Denman Prospect shops, which, as the only one in the Molonglo Valley, is being well supported by local residents.
Weekly NewsletterEvery Thursday afternoon, we package up the most-read and trending RiotACT stories of the past seven days and deliver straight to your inbox..
Ms Hutchison said the general feeling in the community was that Denman Prospect has been actively managed by the Snow family, compared with the sense of drift in Coombs and Wright.
“They keep control of the people who do the developments and they would never let a KFC operate in the middle of a suburb,” she said.
“It’s a two-tier stem in the Molonglo Valley with Denman Prospect getting all the well-managed and up-market stuff and Coombs and Wright getting whatever the Government or developers can chuck at us and it’s not managed. We’re missing out on active project management in this area.”
Ironically, the proposal for a KFC on the proposed Koko mixed-use site on the corner of John Gorton Drive and Steve Irwin Avenue had been sold to the community last year as providing a service to residents, although at the time the name of the restaurant was not mentioned.
“In a funny way it’s something they’re doing to meet the unmet demand in the community for a place where people can go to and eat but it’s backfired because the lessee KFC is not to everyone’s satisfaction.
The DA is for a 292 square metre restaurant, drive-through and car parking of 19 spaces on the western portion of the site fronting Steve Irwin Avenue. The parking requirement is 23 spaces but 19 is considered adequate because of 87 excess spaces in the proposed Koko development.
The traffic report says there will be up to 100 vehicles in the peak hour period but queuing is not expected.
A point of contention is the 17 types of illuminated signs proposed, including an 8m high pylon with a bucket on top.
Community reaction has been mixed with many social media comments saying its location across the road from a children’s playground, on a pedestrian path and nearby residences and public housing is inappropriate.
Others are generally opposed to a fast food takeaway in the area, saying it is better suited to a bigger centre, while some are concerned about the smell.
“Garbage, increased traffic, smell. I don’t want my suburb to end up like Woden. We are not an industrial park. It feels as though the suburb is becoming trashy,” said one.
“I bet Denman Prospect wouldn’t even think to put this in their suburb!” said another.
While some are concerned about where the suburb is headed: “I think this will only serve to cheapen the look of the suburb further and put off other businesses from locating there. What the hell is happening to this area?”
Meanwhile, the developer of the Coombs shops, Renato Cervo, has until the end of April to deliver a building with occupancy certificates, but at present it seems there is only one tenant, an Indian grocer that is due to open this month.
F45 Training was due to open a gym in the New Year but Ms Hutchison said the deal fell through.
Finding a supermarket tenant has been a barrier with only a 1000 square metre site available, and now the Koko development, which includes a 1500 square metre supermarket site, may forever kill that hope, Ms Hutchison said.
The growing number of residents are driving to an increasingly crowded Cooleman Court in Weston or to Denman Prospect for their shopping.
The KFC proposal may provide another rallying point for residents, some of whom have been living in the area for eight years, in their demands for appropriate services in the expanding Molonglo Valley.