Fears Molonglo a two-tier district as Coombs and Wright left behind

Ian Bushnell 4 February 2019 18

An artist’s impression of the KFC restaurant proposed for Wright, that has residents concerned about the suburb’s direction.

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.

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?”

The Coombs shops may be a white elephant.

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.

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18 Responses to Fears Molonglo a two-tier district as Coombs and Wright left behind
canberrian canberrian 12:30 am 05 Feb 19

Another failure of the Labour government. On top of the aggressive land tax and rate increases, slow tram and Northbourne traffic, dodgy apartment construction approvals, ruining Coombs and Wright is another disaster of Mr. Barr.

These suburbs were sold as premium blocks with higher land prices but now there is a KFC and McDonalds. For crying out loud, there is Maccas just in Weston 2 mins apart as per google maps! At least make it a Hungry Jacks or even better a high-end fast food like Madmex, Broadburers a nice Salad bar if you cant make it Kingston Foreshore like.

The Capital group seems interested to make money from Denman. But i hope they and the Govt understand Molonglo is one small neighborhood and they can’t just make a small component of it shine. Would Mr. Barr and team look at Molongolo in 10 years and be proud of their work ? Are Canberrians well off in the last 5 years?

    Heavs Heavs 4:24 pm 05 Feb 19

    This is “Dickson Parklands” level of derp.

    It’s a commercial development.

    Maelinar Maelinar 12:51 pm 06 Feb 19

    Are you saying that the rich and the privileged should be made to drive further to get to KFC ?

    canberrian canberrian 2:59 pm 09 Feb 19

    Mate, there is a KFC right in Woden and McDonalds even closer in Weston. You could also order this junk from Deliveroo. Why are you so passionate about having one in every corner? They do not promote the aesthetics, health or boost morale for the people living nearby but have the opposite, negative effect.

chewy14 chewy14 5:37 pm 04 Feb 19

Why cant the government force developers to build exactly the type of building I prefer and only allow businesses that I want in the area to open up?

The fact that it’s their land is irrelevant.

Of course I’m also still going to consistently complain about every development proposal that is put forward and then complain again when services aren’t provided on time….

Maelinar Maelinar 4:49 pm 04 Feb 19

Actually, this looks quite like the Molongolo Valley staging plan which can be found here – https://www.planning.act.gov.au/topics/current_projects/studies/molonglo_valley_stage_2_planning_project

You can quite clearly see (purple) the malls that will be built with IGA style zones (turquoise) in Denman Prospect and the 3 yet unnamed stage 3 zones to complement them.

The Developers naturally can’t force the wholesale hemp and grains company to setup their free kombucha and essential ancient grains shop there, however a scan of the ‘drive through’ requirement would narrow it down to a list of only 4 possible contenders.

I’d say count your lucky stars they didn’t decide to setup in the future mall because the existence of a KFC in the location will breathe a little life into the zone if only short-lived until KFC relocates into bigger accommodation.

    Maelinar Maelinar 4:50 pm 04 Feb 19

    Oh I forgot to mention that this plan has been published since at least 2012.

    chewy14 chewy14 5:39 pm 04 Feb 19

    Shhhhh, you expect me to read a planning report before buying a house and moving in?


    Maelinar Maelinar 1:08 pm 05 Feb 19

    I’m sure I’ve seen another one with ‘stage 4’ filling in the urban open space all the way up to the water tank at the top of the hill, and all along Drake Brockman including the grape vines at the end of that road, wiping out Pegasus and the other horse place along the way.

    This appears to have subsequently been changed to Non Urban Hills, Ridges and Buffer – I commented critically on it a few years ago on this site so am going to take a little bit of credit for the change of heart.

    chewy14 chewy14 10:22 pm 05 Feb 19

    The western areas you’re talking about are still in the Western Edge study areas in the latest planning strategy, so probably not off the books yet.

JohnH JohnH 3:28 pm 04 Feb 19

It does not help with the shop situation, but residents of Coombs and Wright are feeling a bit more positive about the prospects for the suburbs after the comprehensive rejection of a DA to build a 7 storey apartment block with 123 apartments on a block previously slated for 44 units.

    canberrian canberrian 12:35 am 05 Feb 19

    That’s good news. But I see lots of construction on Streeton drive and not sure what they are.

Spiral Spiral 1:05 pm 04 Feb 19

I’m still betting that Mr Cervo wants to get a couple of tenants into the Coombs shops then go to the government in a few years time, claim it wasn’t his fault that the centre failed and get it rezoned. Mr Gentleman has assured us it won’t be rezoned for housing, but I wonder if it will be rezoned for mixed use with shops at the bottom and 6 or 7 stories of units above.

The question that the government and the media should be asking Mr Cervo (perhaps they have and I just haven’t seen it) is why the shops there are so expensive.

Last time I checked, the rate he was asking per m2 per annum was 50% more than what was being asked for shops beneath the towers built across the road from the Tuggeranong Bunnings.

Brindie Brindie 11:13 am 04 Feb 19

Spot on. Wright and Coombs are being neglected by the ACT planning authorities. At community meetings, the planning people talk about ‘learnings’ from the failed Coombs shops and they still get it wrong! Developers can get away with anything; higher buildings than foreshadowed; more units and less parking. I wish we had held off and bought in Denman Prospect instead of Wright. I’ll remember this when the ACT elections finally roll around; I hope others will do the same.

bikhet bikhet 9:46 am 04 Feb 19

Yup. Compare commercial/office development in the airport area to that in the rest of Canberra. It may not be to everone’s taste, but there’s an overall plan that been stuck to and that provides services that people want. The rest of Canberra not so much.

Disclaimer. To the best of my knowledge I don’t know any member of the Snow family and have no dealing with any of their business entities.

    JC JC 6:21 am 05 Feb 19

    Re the commercial space at the airport, you mean the space that they built using a loophole in the federal airport sales act which was out in place to prevent state/local governments from opposing expansion of the airport, but which has been used here and elsewhere to build what ever the owner wants? All the expense of proper town planning, which in the end has cost the local rates payer through lost income in other areas? That commercial space?

    But yes Denman prospect is a good all be it expensive development. Private developers sure build things better than the government. (Says he who lives in an older private estate).

    chewy14 chewy14 10:24 pm 05 Feb 19

    Yeah, you do have to laugh about calling the airport commercial areas an example of “good” planning. These are the same areas that created massive transport bottlenecks that required massive unplanned and unscheduled upgrades yes?

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