The proposed Coles supermarket and mixed-use development at Dickson shops is set to go ahead with Planning and Land Management Minister Mick Gentleman using his call-in powers to give the controversial project the green light.
Work is expected to start on the $70 million project in the next six months and take about two years to complete. It is sited on 7866 square metres of open car park opposite Woolworths and the Dickson Library, on the corner of Antill and Badham Streets.
It was Coles’ second attempt at the development, with the first proposal overturned in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal last year after objections from the community.
The decision heads off another potentially protracted battle over the development which had been opposed by supermarket rival Woolworths and its landlord Charter Hall.
It was generally considered that the redrafted proposal was a more people-friendly development that endeavoured to address community concerns, but there were still worries about temporary off-site parking during construction, traffic management and the preservation of the Dickson Library, which the Minister says have been taken into consideration.
Mr Gentleman said that with the area’s population growing the decision to call in the project would provide certainty to residents and business owners in the area, more than four years after the original development application was submitted.
“Public feedback has informed the new development’s design, which will create better public spaces in the centre,” Mr Gentleman said.
Coles proposed a two to seven-storey mixed-use development with 140 residential units, the one supermarket instead of two, and other ground floor retail and commercial tenancies, podium car park, and two levels of basement car parking. Office space previously planned was dropped.
Mr Gentleman said the development fitted with the Government’s planning strategy by providing more housing choices close to the light rail and the city.
He said more than 655 permanent car parks would be created at the centre, 183 for residents and 472 commercial, as well as improved footpaths and landscaping.
“Hundreds of jobs will be created during construction along with 164 retail jobs once the development is complete demonstrating my commitment to supporting local jobs,” he said.
The ACAT found in 2018 that the original proposal did not meet requirements of site planning and urban design, and did not provide an efficient, safe and attractive urban environment, with an insufficient streetscape and poor landscaping. Nor did it provide sufficient traffic and pedestrian safety or a safe and attractive shared zone.
It also found that the proposal did not respect the urban setting of the heritage-registered Dickson Library and provide a sufficient buffer zone. Coles went to the Supreme Court but those proceedings were adjourned.
The building at its full height will reach 24 metres, and the units will be a mix of studio, one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom dwellings.
The second proposal provides a much better public realm than the first and is a noticeably kinder design, with more attractive street fronts, curved corners, greater landscaping, better street lighting and improved access for pedestrians and cyclists.
There is also a minimum 10-metre buffer between the building and the Library.
The original development application of 12 December 2014 was for a seven-storey development containing two supermarkets and other ground floor and first floor commercial tenancies, 155 residential units, two levels of basement car parking, a podium level carpark and associated works off-site.
This was revised to 140 units, with changes to floor plans and building elevations.