20 February 2024

Federal Golf Club lodges DAs for $100 million retirement village development

| Ian Bushnell
Join the conversation
render of proposed development

An artist’s impression of the proposed Mbark retirement village to be built on a section of the Federal Golf Club course in Red Hill. Images: MBark.

Federal Golf Club has submitted a development application for its long-expected and controversial retirement village on six hectares at the southern end of the Red Hill course.

The $103 million Mbark proposal will comprise 125 dwellings, including 77 single-storey houses and 48 apartments across six three-storey buildings, and a health and wellbeing centre for residents.

The three-bedroom houses will be 145 square metres with garages ranging from 28 to 43 sqm.

The generous apartments range in size from 161 sqm to 177 sqm.

The two-storey health and wellbeing centre building will host a lounge, events space, kitchen, toilets, games room, meeting room, cinema across both levels, consulting rooms, open plan office, and a swimming pool, yoga room, gym and hot tub on level 1.

Parking and a cellar are provided in the basement.

READ ALSO Up to 1500 homes planned for Causeway, including new public housing

The project will also require a new access road from Kitchener Street in Garran.

The club says it will maintain 18 holes on the course during the development.

Two other DAs have been lodged – one to subdivide the block and de-concessionalise the village site, and the other for reconfiguring the course, which will be done concurrently.

The club has long argued that the development will secure its water supply and long-term financial future.

But opponents say the proposal is environmentally irresponsible and unnecessary.

An overview of the development, access road and landscaping. Image: Oculus.

The DA says the retirement village will not impact neighbouring homes with large setbacks greater than the required minimum of 50 metres to prevent noise or overshadowing and also allow wildlife and amenity buffers.

A total of 358 trees will need to be removed, including 109 of a regulated size requiring approval from the Tree Protection Unit. Five are hollow-bearing trees, and three are potential remnants. But the club says it will undertake a tree replacement program as required, and a large stand of trees, including some that are hollow bearing, is to be retained as part of a secondary park outside of the health and wellbeing centre.

A view of the health and wellbeing centre and adjacent homes.

A central park with trees, plantings and walking paths will run through the middle of the retirement village, serviced by a loop road.

The development will also provide 163 parking spaces, including 32 for employees/visitors.

The proposed two-lane access road connected to Kitchener Street will travel through Block 76, Section 10 Garran, and a new entry point will be created off the proposed access road, and the existing Scout Hall entry off Kitchener Street will be removed.

A traffic island will also be built on Kitchener Street opposite the bus stop to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians.

The traffic report provided by GHD says that with 50 movements expected during peak hour times, Kitchener Street has ample capacity to absorb this additional traffic now and into the future.

The community consultation report says that the main issues raised were light pollution, being able to see the village from neighbouring properties, dust and noise from the earthworks and village development works, building setbacks, traffic, the course re-configuration, defined walking tracks and continued public access.

The club says trees will screen the road, the public will still have access to the course and the apartments have been sited at a low point to minimise visual impact.

render of the new development

A view of the central park and houses backing onto it.

The action group formed to oppose the proposal, Friends of Federal Fairways (FOFF), said the whole premise of the development was flawed and its team of planning experts would scrutinise the DAs.

“It fails to meet the object of the Planning Act 2023, which clearly emphasises the protection and conservation of biodiversity, habitat, ecological processes and natural systems as integral to ACT’s biodiversity values and its landscape setting,” spokesperson Jane Seaborn said.

“Cutting down hundreds of trees which are habitat for native wildlife and butchering green open space and a perfectly good golf course to make way for multi-storey unit blocks is completely at odds with responsible environmental stewardship, as well as ignoring the views of the local community and many members of the golf club who are opposed to the development.

“The new Act explicitly provides for public participation in development assessment and we are encouraging citizens to make submissions outlining why they oppose housing on Red Hill.”

The group’s main concern is habitat loss for the endangered gang gang cockatoo and it argues the club’s justification for the development doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

READ ALSO Extra light rail stop on Commonwealth Avenue in mix as Barr defends keeping route options open

Plan Variation 384, which paved the way for the development proposal, also rezoned more than 10 hectares of land of high ecological value in the north-west portion of the site to NUZ3 hills ridges and buffer zone to facilitate its incorporation into the Red Hill Nature Reserve.

It’s one of the reasons the club’s plans eventually attracted backing from community groups, apart from the Garran Residents Association.

The club has said construction will be staged and the timing of each stage will depend on the prevailing market conditions.

Construction is expected to take four years, including the preliminary site works and a three-year build for the village itself.

Comment on the DAs is open until 8 March.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Mike McGettrick4:23 pm 21 Feb 24

For a numbers of years the club did not increase annual fees and then claimed the club would not survive financially without the development. Is there something more to this proposed development which we are not being told about? With over $6 million in annual gross income if the club cannot survive I believe they need new management – not a development which would wreck this pristine golf course, recognised as one of the best inland golf courses in Australia.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.