22 July 2021

Geocon changes tack with smaller, commercial proposal for Kingston site

| Ian Bushnell
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An artist’s impression of the new Geocon proposal. Images: Purdon Planning

A controversial Kingston multi-unit proposal that drew the ire of Chief Minister Andrew Barr has been scaled back and switched to a commercial development in the face of community opposition.

Geocon has gone back to the drawing board after its original proposal for a six to eight-storey residential complex at 84-86 Giles Street near the Kingston Post Office received a hostile reception from residents who said it was out of step with the character of the area.

They said the proposal for 106 residential units and four ground-floor non-retail commercial units was too big, would pose parking problems and a reliance on a rear laneway for access would create traffic issues.

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In an unusual intervention, Mr Barr said in an email to the Kingston Barton Residents Group last year that the proposal went too far.

Now Geocon is proposing a four-storey building, with ground floor commercial and three floors of offices, and two levels of basement car parking accessed via Giles Street. Service areas at the rear will be accessed via the laneway.

Purdon Planning, which is handling the pre-DA community consultation, says the new proposal responds to community feedback, will reduce the possibility of overshadowing and lessen the impact on the rear laneway while allowing a throughway for pedestrians.

Original proposal

The original eight-storey proposal.

It will also add a non-retail component to the Kingston Group Centre, Purdon says.

“This development will provide office and commercial services to the inner south community and provide more diverse employment opportunities for the Kingston Group Centre, ” it says.

The Inner South Canberra Community Council and the KBRG have welcomed the changes but remain concerned at the four-storeys, which is double the Precinct Code height limit, although there is leeway for higher buildings if it is “compatible with the desired character, and appropriate to the scale and function of the use, and minimises detrimental impacts, including overshadowing”.

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ISCCC chair Gary Kent said there were still concerns about overshadowing on Jardine Street, but the change of access to Giles Street instead of the existing rear laneway and car park were an improvement.

He said a feeling remained that the original proposal was merely an ambit claim.

“We’re looking at it very carefully,” he said

Purdon says the new height reflects the Master Plan.

It says the design will contribute positively to the surrounding streetscape, provide a sympathetic architectural form and deliver a truly modern building.

Kingston Geocon site map

An aerial view of the Kingston site.

A number of sustainability initiatives are planned, including large trees and permeable grounds.

Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis said there was a need for more commercial space in the inner south.

“Geocon is pleased to take the next steps in developing our Giles Street block into much-needed commercial spaces for businesses operating in Canberra’s inner south,” he said.

“The premium office market in Canberra is booming and Geocon’s Giles Street development will deliver much needed commercial space to the market.”

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Purdon will host a virtual consultation session with members of the project team on 27 July at 6:30 pm.

The project team – Purdon, Turco & Associates, and DSB Landscape Architects – will also be contacting various community groups ahead of a development application being lodged.

To learn more, visit the project website.

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Finagen_erection10:33 pm 22 Jul 21

But they can build twenty plus storeys in Belconnen. Maybe there’s no ministers living near by?

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