3 June 2021

Hunt on for Kippax developer as Government opens EOI process

| Ian Bushnell
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Kippax Fair

Kippax Fair owners remain committed to expanding the centre. Photo: File.

An expanded Kippax Group Centre would make it one of the largest in Canberra and the only one to be anchored by all three major supermarket operators.

According to documents from the ACT Government’s expression of interest (EOI) process to find a developer, the two hectares of land adjacent to Kippax Fair could accommodate a gross floor area of 5000 square metres for commercial and retail use, as well as some residential, including a requirement for 12 affordable housing dwellings.

The land currently includes part of the Holt District Playing Fields, a skateboarding half pipe; two government-owned buildings, including the former Kippax Health Building and a toilet block/change room.

The Government rejected a direct sale to the Kippax Fair owners, the Christodoulou family, who had developed and operated the centre for 40 years and were committed to its expansion.

Instead it has opted for a two-stage EOI process to first gauge interest and then consider offers for the land and/or concept development plans, including how these will integrate into the existing Kippax Group Centre.

Last year’s approval of Draft Variation 361 paved the way for the expansion across the playing fields but the community had become increasingly frustrated at the Government’s slow progress on making the land available for development.

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Some residents also remained opposed to the loss of open space.

West Belconnen’s population is growing and the current centre is already under pressure as the Ginninderry suburbs come on line.

A retail study included in the EOI says the main trade area population is projected to reach more than 45,500 residents by mid-2031.

“There is considered sound scope for additional retail floorspace to be added to Kippax Group Centre over the next decade, with the preferred anchor tenant for inclusion being a third supermarket, preferably a full-line Coles supermarket,” it says.

Kippax site map

The Kippax land to be developed. Image: ACT Government.

Its analysis shows that an expansion of 5000 square metres is supportable in 2024, with the supermarket supported by a mini-major such as a Chemist Warehouse discount pharmacy, as well as a dedicated fresh food precinct and additional retail services.

“If the expansion were to proceed, the Kippax Group Centre would accommodate over 15,000 square metres of retail floor space making it one of the largest Group Centres in Canberra and the only one to be anchored by all three major supermarket operators,” the analysis says.

The developer of the Kippax Group Centre expansion will face flood mitigation works, more investigations to gauge the level of contaminated land and be responsible for the removal of playing field irrigation.

A flood study shows that overland flow paths within the Kippax Group Centre study area do not have sufficient capacity to cope with a one-in-100 year flood event, and that minor flooding occurs along Hardwick Crescent during storms.

Flooding would be mitigated by the inclusion of water sensitive urban design elements including on-site detention storage and in effect, reducing off-site flows to pre-development level, it says.

A desktop site investigation found there was currently insufficient information to assess whether the site is suitable for the proposed development from a contamination perspective.

A more detailed investigation which includes soil and groundwater sampling is recommended to further investigate the contamination risk, it says.

The EOI closes on 25 July.

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