The throwing out of the bids for the mixed-use Koko Molonglo development and the associated Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food store and drive-through in Wright may be bittersweet for residents still waiting for shopping facilities in the growing area.
The Planning Directorate has rejected development applications from Pelle Projects and PK Nominees for the eight-storey Koko project and the KFC store on the corner of John Gorton Drive and Steve Irwin Avenue, citing a range of planning rule breaches and a lack of information.
Plans for the proposed eight-storey Koko Molonglo development in Wright include 158 residential units, a 100-room hotel, rooftop garden and lap pool, a 1500 square metre supermarket, five retail shops and basement parking.
A child care centre catering for 90 children, medical centre with seven practitioners and fast food restaurant is also planned.
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The Koko website says confirmed tenants are Woolworths Metro, KFC and BWS liquor.
The KFC proposal cooked up the most controversy in the community with heated opinions over the product itself and the location close to a playground and the Charles Weston School in Coombs.
But ultimately the proposal was refused due to traffic concerns, a lack of pedestrian access, a non-compliant 8m sign and the absence of a Noise Management Plan.
Koko also fell foul of traffic concerns, insufficient pedestrian and cycling access, design requirements, poor frontages and inadequate landscaping.
“The application fails to demonstrate how the proposed development creates an efficient urban environment and how it makes a positive contribution to the neighbourhood and landscape character of the area. The proposal also fails to present a high-quality interface, clear connections to a wider open space and pedestrian networks, contributing to a low-quality public realm,” the Notice of Decision says.
Community activist Ryan Hemsley, who runs the Save Molonglo website, says that while many will welcome the refusal of the KFC application, Koko did promise to bring some commercial activity to Coombs and Wright, where the completed Coombs shops continue to sit virtually empty.
“Its refusal means residents will be forced to wait even longer for an operational supermarket within walking distance of their homes,” he said.
The lack of shops in Molonglo, where Denman Prospect’s IGA supermarket has been forced to close ahead of a handover to a new operator, is also placing pressure on Cooleman Court in Weston.
But he backed the Planning Directorate’s resolve not to approve developments that do not comply with the rules.
“Everyone needs to adhere to the planning rules no matter how big or small, that development may be,” he said.
“This is another setback towards having facilities on our doorstop and I hope whatever issues the Planning Directorate raised in the Notice of Decision can be dealt with swiftly and that when the new DA is lodged for Koko it is compliant.”
He said it appeared the tough stance taken on the Belconnen KFC proposal had been repeated in Wright.
Mr Hemsley said that despite a clear message from the Planning Directorate that proposals in Molonglo that flout the planning rules would be rejected, developers continued to submit flawed applications.
“There are site-specific planning controls that are being ignored by developers, and I think that applies not just to KFC at Koko but the apartment and commercial development as well,” he said.
Koko is the latest in a string of development proposals in the Molonglo Valley that the Planning Directorate has knocked back.