10 December 2020

Keggins to revive 24-storey development on edge of Woden Town Square

| Ian Bushnell
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Woden 24-storey development

A view of the proposed development next to Lovett Tower. Images: Facebook.

Canberra developer Keggins plans to proceed with a multi-storey mixed-use development up to 24 storeys high on the edge of the Woden Town Square after purchasing Borrowdale House on 30 October.

The former Woden post office site came with a 10-year-old approved development application for a three-tower structure and podium which Keggins is now seeking to amend, but the bulk of the proposal is unchanged.

Keggins’ $75 million proposal for the 2229 square metre site is for 222 apartments, ground floor commercial tenancies, and car parking on two basement levels, ground and podium levels 1 to 4.

The apartments will cover levels 6 to 24 in three tower buildings of 14, 20 and 24 storeys in height. The project has been released to market under the name ‘W2’, and Keggins says it will better activate the Town Square.

But the Woden Valley Community Council has long opposed this development, which it says has slipped through the cracks after the DA lay dormant through various changes of ownership and until the removal of hazardous material was completed in 2019 as a condition of the original approval.


The building will add to a changing Woden landscape.

In 2010 the Council had appealed unsuccessfully to then Planning Minister Andrew Barr to call in the DA and reject it.

The Council says the planning authority gave the DA the go-ahead in March this year, without consulting the community.

The bid to amend the DA, which the Council says only makes marginal changes, will allow it to again comment on the proposal.

Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick said the Council was worried about building height, wind effects and potential overshadowing of the Square, although the DA says the development retains more than three hours of solar access for the Town Square between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm on the winter solstice.

READ ALSO Plans for 415 apartments across two towers in Lyneham

”W2 imposes a large overwhelming building over the Woden Town Square which is currently being used more and more as a place to relax and meet friends,” she said.

”W2 will overshadow the square in the afternoons, it is likely to exacerbate the wind funnelling past Lovett Tower and impact the future of any entertainment precinct in the area by limiting music.”

She said the proposal damaged the opportunity to encourage active fronts and rebuild the ‘soul’ in the core of Woden to attract people to it again and again.

Buildings can be 28 storeys around the Town Square but the 26-storey Lovett Tower is currently the only high-rise.

Ms Carrick ran as an Independent in the last ACT election and believes there is support in the community for lower building heights to protect the integrity of the Square.


A render of the view from the top.

But Keggins general manager Brett Smith said the shadow and wind analysis remained unchanged from the approved assessment and showed little impact on the amenity of the Town Square, with only minor shadowing late in the afternoon.

“Keggins is excited to contribute positively to the ailing disused Woden Town Square by creating opportunities for active uses, passive surveillance and hundreds of residents seeking to utilise the empty space,” he said.

“The project will contribute significantly to the local economy through creation of hundreds of jobs, stimulating business activity in the region and providing much needed housing immediately adjacent to work, recreation and public transport.

”It is quite simply good urban planning to densify city centres with existing infrastructure to support such proposals.”

Mr Smith said Keggins had been been overwhelmed with hundreds of enquiries and already had secured dozens of sales from people eager to live in the centre of Woden.

“Canberrans have for too long lived with empty buildings devoid of life around the Woden Town Centre,” he said.

The changes proposed by Keggins will increase the number of apartments from 208 to 222, and result in more parking spaces and landscaping.

There will be 120 one-bedroom, 96 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom units, as well as a total of 23 accessible units.

A total of 295 car parking spaces will be provided, including 21 adaptable and three accessible, and 23 for motorcycles.

There will be 190 storage lockers, as well as 210 spaces for bicycles.

Keggins developed the Sapphire, the final waterfront development in Kingston.

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As a local business owner and on behalf of our team and all it supports, we welcome diversity and densification for our struggling Town Centre. Over recent years, we have seen the growth and economic benefit afforded to Gunghalin and Belconnen through investment in those more progressive Town Centres. The vocal minority have for too long suppressed growth in Woden through scaremongering and personal NIMBY agendas. Woden needs a massive and urgent boost in investment to draw back employment and business before it flat lines. Whilst living in high-density accommodation may not be for everyone, the wide-ranging economic benefit it brings, absolutely is. Thanks to all involved (private and public) for supporting such ventures and the collective we look forward to a much more productive, active and viable Woden Town Centre in the very near future.

Julian Henry mentioned reopening the Shanty. The Contented Soul might also reappear ..
I believe the old Soul site is empty. Is this correct ?

The square is devoid of life. This is badly needed along with more densification. This does not affect anyone who lives their privilege life in the suburbs surrounding and never use the square. We have 6500 tafe students coming, those wanting to downsize and those after more affordable housing options and reduce the use of cars by walking to work, restaurants, shopping and the future light rail. Highly welcomed and will activate the town square and all the small businesses surrounding who these detractors never support. Can’t wait for the refurbishment and reoccupying of Lovett Tower as well.

What nonsense. Everyone wants a 1000m2 block in the outer suburbs with plenty of trees and lawn they don’t have time to maintain. And then drive to where they want to go on 10 lane freeways and park at the front door of where they want to go for free. Just like the good old days.

How anyone could think any differently is beyond me. And it would help if we bring back the trading laws that everything shuts at 1230 on saturdays and remains closed on sundays including major supermarkets. That will help enliven the local takeaway and overpriced shop rite.

sammyincanberra10:43 pm 09 Dec 20

I work in the area… and the Woden square is dead and sad! Activation is needed and this is what people from Woden need… not another empty ex government office!

Capital Retro9:33 am 10 Dec 20

Dead and sad to some people – peaceful and quiet to others.

Peaceful and quiet most definitely has a place, but not in a City Centre that should be full of life and support businesses striving to service the broader community. Canberra has one of the worst densification percentages of the developed world. We are already spoiled for space and our greed for green means we are an unsustainable population. Time to grow up Canberra.

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