14 April 2023

Government-owned community centre for Coombs on way with design contract

| Ian Bushnell
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sign on block of land

The Coombs Village site where the proposed community centre will be built. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

A stand-alone, Government-owned community centre for the Molonglo Valley suburb of Coombs is a step closer with Townsend and Associate Architects signed to design the facility.

Promised as part of the proposed Wright and Coombs Village, the multi-storey community centre on a 600-square-metre site on the corner of Fred Daly Avenue and Beecroft Street will overlook the central park and be available to community groups under the management and ownership of the Government’s ACT Property Group.

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A Suburban Land Agency spokesperson said the design phase was due to be completed and included consultation with both the community and the ACT Property Group.

The design was also being informed by a review of existing community centres across the ACT and discussions with their operators.

Once finalised, the design would be included in the development application (DA), which when approved would be integrated with the wider Coombs and Wright Village Project.

This project would also involve modifications to Fred Daley Avenue and Beecroft Street as well as improvements to Coombs Park.

The spokesperson said these works were expected to begin in 2025.

The building itself would comprise about 1000 sqm of floor space.

According to the tender, the design would: reflect community desires for a flexible indoor recreation space that could be used for a range of community activities such as dance, yoga and gatherings; accommodate small and large meetings; and provide occasional child care.

The Molonglo Valley Community Forum’s Monique Brouwer said it was exciting that the project was progressing.

“We desperately need a community centre that is built fit-for-purpose,” she said.

Coombs has had a chequered history when it comes to community facilities, with shops standing empty for years and the privately owned community space in the Molonglo Health Hub left unused because hire fees were too high.

That prompted the Government to take over the lease for five years and hire YWCA Canberra to manage the space.

But Ms Brouwer said cost issues remained and the floor was unsuitable for dance and other activities such as martial arts.

“It’s great to see a community centre being built but we also need to see management money attached to that centre, to actually activate the space and hold programs there,” she said.

Ms Brouwer said the correct flooring was essential so all activities could be catered to.

“We’ve got Bollywood dancers who would love to have a space,” she said.

Above all, the centre needs to be adaptable and flexible to host multiple users at the same time and adjust to community needs.

Ms Brouwer said it should have retractable walls and function facilities including a kitchen that caterers could use for large community events.

“We have a lot of large cultural groups who want to meet in the Molonglo Valley, and we want to give them a space to be able to have those bigger cultural events that they enjoy,” she said.

Ms Brouwer said the location near the shops, health hub and the park was ideal.

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The village is planned to include a shaded main street, a public plaza and shared space, shops and cafes.

The $97,500 contract expects a developed design by 30 June and DA drawings and specifications by 31 August.

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