Geocon’s eight-storey proposal for Kingston disappointing, says residents group

Ian Bushnell 3 June 2020 37
Giles Street in Kingston

An illustration of the proposed complex on Giles Street in Kingston. Images: Purdon Planning.

A Geocon proposal for an eight-storey mixed-use development in Kingston is out of step with the character of the area and raises serious traffic and parking concerns, according to the local residents group.

The development giant wants to build the complex at 84-86 Giles Street on Blocks 13 and 22 Section 22, next to the old post office, totalling about 2000 square metres.

It has engaged Turco & Associates, DSB Landscape Architects and Purdon Planning as the consultants for the redevelopment and to conduct pre-DA consultation.

Geocon plans 106 residential units and four ground-floor non-retail commercial units, with basement parking and rooftop gardens and amenities.

It is also seeking to activate the rear car park and laneway on Block 33 Section 22 by creating a pedestrian connection through the site, from Giles Street to Eyre Street.

”The design seeks to contribute positively to the Kingston Group Centre through high-quality design and activated ground floor with complementary materials and articulation moving up the building,” according to the project plans on the Purdon website.

“A select choice in building materials will help to emulate the surrounding suburban character. Façade materials include brick, glass and concrete.”

Purdon says the proposal has twice been presented to the National Capital Design Review Panel (NCDRP) and the façade materials and built form have been developed and guided by the NCDRP’s feedback.

The Kingston and Barton Residents Association says Geocon originally proposed a hotel for the site and was expected to present its plans at a public community meeting but withdrew.

Site map

A site map showing the project’s location in Kingston.

KBRA spokesperson Rebecca Scouller said the apartment plans were not surprising but the group was disappointed, noting the Kingston Master Plan identifies building heights for this site as being no more than four storeys.

”It is starting to look like a developer strategy to make ambit claims, then appear to ‘listen to the community’ and compromise’ but still build above the heights identified in Master Plans and other planning documents,” she said.

But Purdon says the proposal is within Territory Plan rules, and while not aligning completely with the Master Plan, is consistent with the Kingston Precinct Code and the 2011 master plan objectives.

Ms Scouller said an eight-storey building was not in character with the Kingston Group Centre and may also have impacts on the amenity of existing apartments and businesses, including overshadowing and loss of sunshine.

Purdon says shadows will mainly be cast over the rear car park and laneway and across Jardine Street and commercial buildings, and no residential dwellings will be adversely impacted.

A change to the Precinct Code states that ”the four-storey building envelope over blocks 13 and 22 section 22 has been removed in response to concerns raised by adjoining neighbours, and due to identified likely impacts from substantial overshadowing onto the amenity of adjoining dwellings. The blocks will be subject to the existing requirements of the Commercial Zones Development Code, which permits two-storey development with criteria for considering higher development provided there are no significant impacts on neighbouring dwellings.”

It appears Geocon is now using a measure designed to prevent higher buildings and overshadowing to justify the proposal’s height.

Ms Scouller said parking and traffic flow would be problematic.

”One can only assume the proposed entrance will be the lane-way behind the Jardine Street shops,” she said.

”It is hard to understand how this lane-way can accommodate an entryway for over 150 residential and commercial car parks plus traffic movements and deliveries/waste management while also supporting existing businesses.”

A traffic report will be available when the DA is lodged in July but Purdon says the proposal seeks to promote active travel modes and reduce car use by residents.

Ms Scouller said Geocon had form when it came to these sorts of issues, particularly when it developed the Abode Hotel on Kennedy Street in 2018 and negotiated approval to provide 23 fewer car parks than legally required, pushing vehicles on to streets and impacting local businesses.

”If this were to happen a second time then this would significantly impact the Kingston Group Centre,” she said.

Purdon says a letterbox drop to nearby residents and businesses will take place today (2 June).

The project team will also be speaking with community councils and peak bodies over the coming weeks and plans to present the development via video conference through a live session.

Purdon Planning will host a live consultation session with the project team on 11 June at 6:00 pm. A link and instructions for the session will be posted on its website by 9 June.


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37 Responses to Geocon’s eight-storey proposal for Kingston disappointing, says residents group
Lynn Jamieson Lynn Jamieson 9:24 am 04 Jun 20

The ‘ consultation’ post drop was the size of a small postcard

The printing and detail was unreadable

We don’t know how close this will come to our boundary with privacy and overshadowing

Lynn Jamieson Lynn Jamieson 9:22 am 04 Jun 20

We need a shadow diagram

We live in an apartment that shares a fence with this proposal

We could be completely overshadowed

Also turning the lane way into a highway for 140 apartments and mixed use will cause considerable noise and pollution

Reduces parking for the shopping centre

ny4231 ny4231 8:36 pm 03 Jun 20

I would be concerned if I lived in the apartments next door as the plans for the new apartments show two levels of basement car park. Hopefully there won’t be any movement or structural damage when they start excavating.

Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 1:47 pm 03 Jun 20

Enough!!!

Mikey Moore Mikey Moore 10:37 am 03 Jun 20

100 meters away the Carrington and Kingston Tower both rise to 15 stories..almost twice the height of this proposal. 8 stories is hardly unprecedented.

    Andrew Taylor Andrew Taylor 5:43 pm 01 Jul 20

    Mikey Moore unprecedented is not the issue... learning from mistakes is a better mindset... The Carrington, Kingston Tower and Sky Tower are examples of what happens when vandals are let loose in urban planning. I live in the shadow of one...

grim123 grim123 10:09 am 03 Jun 20

Are the people complaining about high rise buildings the same people that complain about loss of green spaces? I see a few names in the comments that certainly are.

Pick one. Canberra is small. You want things like trams but not the high density population that go with it. You want green spaces but not the high rise, high density accommodation that saves on the footprint required to accommodate the population needed to sustain all these other things you want. Seriously, these people need to pick a position.

Or do they just like to whine?

    JC JC 6:17 pm 03 Jun 20

    Bit of all the above I reckon. And of all places to complain about a new apartment building is Kingston. That (and town centres) are the very places where high density housing should be, and in this case it isn’t that high, there are others around just as high, it’s not totally ugly, that of course is subjective, but oh it is Gecon, so must be some sort of kickback to Andrew Barr or someone else. Never mind Geocon like anyone else, including individuals like us have every right to buy land or a building if it is for sale. And then we have every right to either propose a building that meets the zoning, or make a planning application to change that zoning.

chrisJ chrisJ 9:55 am 03 Jun 20

It is clear that good planning needs vigilance and enforcement on top of having good master plans and precinct codes. Master Plans are made to give some coherence to an area. The plan sets a limit of four storeys, and there are shadow controls in the precinct code. These codes are to set limits – they are controls, not licences – and if there are two height limits covering some area, then it’s the lower that must be enforced, in all logic.

Brisal Brisal 9:01 am 03 Jun 20

“A select choice in building materials will help to emulate the surrounding suburban character. Façade materials include brick, glass and concrete.”
What a ridiculous statement. It should be:
“We want to put up a building. Façade materials include brick, glass and concrete, just like every building we have ever put up.”

Debbie Crane Debbie Crane 7:36 am 03 Jun 20

The beauty of Canberra was the lack of high rise buildings and it's beautiful rural settings. But. .. greed ruins everything good and I don't think I was ever asked if I welcomed the change. ..

    Lynn Stape Lynn Stape 8:43 am 03 Jun 20

    As a tenant of a high rise and a person who has rented for many years in the burbs and prefers high rise, let me assist you with your dilemma... if you wish to live in a rural setting then do not choose the Capital of Australia as anyone could have told you it had to grow up sooner or later.. if you want rural then go rural and don't expect the Capital to remain in the 1950's it can not happen...

    Debbie Crane Debbie Crane 8:48 am 03 Jun 20

    Lynn Stape we moved here 35 years ago and the policy was no front fences no high rise buildings. That was before self government which we weren't asked if we wanted either. If I had if known this change would happen now in my older age I would never have bought a house here. Thankfully my children were able to have horses and the benefits of living in a Rural bush city. The best of both worlds as it was. I don't have a dilemma.

    Lynn Stape Lynn Stape 8:53 am 03 Jun 20

    Debbie Crane I moved here 30 years ago and knew it would expand, go upwards as we do only have a small area to build in. We can only expand outward so far. I guess we have a different perspective on life. I am however happy your children were able to have horses but if anyone moves to a city and expects horses in 2020 it would be foolish at best... any city that is, especially a capital city of a country. .. stay safe, stay happy have a nice day.. :-)

    Debbie Crane Debbie Crane 8:55 am 03 Jun 20

    Lynn Stape you too. I did love living in Sydney and I did love the buildings. Perhaps I worded that badly. You have a great day too xxx 💖

    Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 4:48 pm 05 Jun 20

    If you'd like to live in a rural setting then perhaps consider moving away from the city.

    Debbie Crane Debbie Crane 11:18 pm 05 Jun 20

    Elroy Jones too old for that now.

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:37 am 03 Jun 20

Eight storeys. I wonder if the shadow from the building will reach as far as Green Square late in the day in winter, when people will still be using the square? Be interesting to see a shadow diagram. Shadowing is not taken seriously enough.

    Mikey Moore Mikey Moore 9:25 am 03 Jun 20

    Julie Macklin Green square is the to south West of this development. No chance of shadowing, especially in the afternoon and evening when the sun is in the west.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:32 am 03 Jun 20

    Mikey Moore On Google maps it appears that some of Green Square is south of the development. However, looking again, it is more likely that some of the units on Howitt St will suffer more; badly in fact. A shadow diagram would make this clearer. Might be hard to get though. I tried to get one for the double storey extension built up close to my back fence and that was rejected by planning. Being on my north-west, it turned out it does shade a small section of my solar passive house in the afternoon in winter. Fortunately only a small section and late afternoon, so could be far worse, but the only heating my house came with is the sun, so this lack of taking solar access seriously is not trivial. Especially if more people think before they build and start to build low energy houses.

    Mikey Moore Mikey Moore 10:35 am 03 Jun 20

    Julie Macklin I don't think this development is open for public consultation yet. When a DA is submitted a shadow diagram should be accessible through planning.act.gov.au

fitzy3032 fitzy3032 10:53 pm 02 Jun 20

Not on my watch. Those apartments/townhouses just behind will get so dark and cold in the afternoon. Plus like everyone else has said, there’s nothing else remotely close to that height in the area. Even the apartments on the Foreshore at at most six storeys.

    Mikey Moore Mikey Moore 12:59 pm 03 Jun 20

    The Carrington and Kingston towers on Jardine Street (100 meters away) are both 15 stories.

Robert McMahon Robert McMahon 9:18 pm 02 Jun 20

It’ll dominate the skyline in that area. Oh dear.

Deborah Gale Deborah Gale 8:23 pm 02 Jun 20

Geocon buildings that are inappropriate and unsympathetic to the area? How unusual. Let’s not be surprised when this is approved by the ACT Government.

Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 7:56 pm 02 Jun 20

Shouldn’t be any than three stories and to remain sympathetic to the area, something sadly Geocon hasn’t ever been able to do.

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 6:02 pm 02 Jun 20

Another ugly building with no soul.. with no clue on traffic flow.

Bethany Williams Bethany Williams 5:47 pm 02 Jun 20

Geocon, yet again ignoring regulations and the wishes of the community. Eight stories is too high. This is not the right development for this site.

Corey Karl Corey Karl 5:25 pm 02 Jun 20

Same old same old !!

Robert Knight Robert Knight 5:20 pm 02 Jun 20

Eight stories...

All of the immediate neighbours are 2 stories, and across the road they're 3. Our planning rules are broken if this is the kind of giant leap our development can take in isolation.

Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 5:00 pm 02 Jun 20

Woah - Geocon? In Canberra?

Jp Romano Jp Romano 4:47 pm 02 Jun 20

Seems nice. Fits the character of the area.

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