Geocon postpones Kingston DA until after election

Ian Bushnell 2 October 2020 8
Kingston DA

An artist’s impression of the proposal. Geocon says it will help revitalise the area. Image: Purdon Planning.

Geocon has put a development application for its contentious Kingston apartment project on ice until after the election as the main parties throw their weight behind local residents campaigning to block the proposal.

The Canberra development giant wants to build a six to eight-storey mixed-use development at 84-86 Giles Street on Blocks 13 and 22 Section 22, next to the old post office, but local residents say the proposal is out of step with the character of the area and raises serious traffic and parking concerns.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr weighed into the issue first in July, saying it goes too far and is not the right fit for the suburb, and now it has become a political hot potato for all the major parties.

They have told the Kingston Barton Residents Group (KBRG) that the proposal is not acceptable in its current form.

READ MORE: Raising the bar: Chief Minister sends developers a message

The master plan allows four storeys but a change to the precinct code imposed a two-storey height limit, although it also allows for higher development provided there are no significant impacts on neighbouring dwellings.

Geocon has said Kingston already has high-rise apartments and the proposal will help revitalise the Kingston shops and allow people to live in the suburb.

It declined on Thursday (1 October) to comment on the parties’ positions, other than to say it would wait until the election is decided before moving ahead with a development application.

KBRG welcomed election commitments from Labor, the Greens and the Liberals calling on Geocon to reconsider its proposal.

President of the KBRG Rebecca Scouller said the parties, community and local businesses had sent a clear message to Geocon and Purdon Planning that they needed to go back to the drawing board.

Ms Scouller hoped that they would follow through on their commitments after the election.

”After the debacle of the Greater Western Sydney/Grocon unsolicited bid in 2016, Andrew Barr made an election promise to engage a community panel to help inform a Master Plan for the Manuka Oval precinct. Neither the community panel nor Master Plan ever eventuated,” she said.

Mr Barr wrote to KBRG on 25 September that he was disappointed that Geocon had dismissed the residents’ concerns, noting that strong community feedback had resulted in developments being rejected by the independent planning authority.

”Notwithstanding this, let me be clear that if ACT Labor is re-elected in October we will not support any Territory Plan Variations applications associated with, or lodged in conjunction with, the development as it is currently proposed,” he said.

”Furthermore, we expect all development proponents to comply with the Territory Plan and associated codes. If this does not occur, we would consider the available options to oppose the development.”

The ACT Greens told KBRG that any formal proposal must be consistent with the Kingston Master Plan, particularly in relation to building heights.

”The proposal as it stands, at twice the height identified in the master plan, is likely to have significant impacts on the local community in relation to privacy, shading and density. To our mind this would be out of step with the character of the precinct,” Greens Kurrajong candidate Rebecca Vassarotti said.

The Canberra Liberals said the proposal was not in keeping within the character of Kingston, and the planning rules including height restrictions should be maintained.

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8 Responses to Geocon postpones Kingston DA until after election
Acton Acton 1:41 pm 05 Oct 20

Once Barr is reelected GeoCon will resume construction of multistory apartments without hindrance from residents or government.

Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins 1:49 pm 04 Oct 20

2 storey height limit, Masterplan for the area makes provision for a building up to 4 Storeys and Geocon want 8... I understand 4 storeys for the site but if 8 is allowed why even have a masterplan in the first place?

    Nicholas Elizabeth Swain Nicholas Elizabeth Swain 6:40 pm 07 Oct 20

    Unfortunately Master Plans have no legal status. However Precinct Codes do. The 4 storey limit was removed from the draft Precinct Code after community feedback but the wording allowing the possibility of more than 2 storeys was poorly drafted and set no limit. It only requires it to be in character.

    Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins 6:45 pm 07 Oct 20

    Nicholas Elizabeth Swain I have always found it odd that Masterplans have no statutory weight in the ACT. The Planning and Development Act actually has very little consideration of strategic planning. If there are requirements to be in keeping with local character, what local character means should be defined or at least have clear criteria.

David Newman David Newman 11:56 am 04 Oct 20

Good. Their eight storey edifice has no place in an area of only two storeys

    Ian Don Ian Don 7:12 pm 07 Oct 20

    only two story blocks hey? I must imagine

    - Kingston Tower (15 story)

    - Astra apartments

    - Knightsbridge apartments

    - Salt

    - and other 4,5,6 level apartment blocks in the area.

    David Newman David Newman 9:16 pm 07 Oct 20

    Ian Don, Kingston Towers & Knightsbridge are anomalies, and I believe built before the current master plan as both are over 25 years old. Astra is new and has its issues. The 4-6 storey apartment blocks are in areas zoned for that height. The Geocon proposal is in an area zoned for two storeys

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