A rearguard action has been mounted to avert the development of the Holt district playing fields proposed in the Kippax Group Centre Master Plan as the public consultation period comes to a close.
A separate proposal from the owners of the Kippax Fair shopping centre also plans to expand on to the ovals but West Belconnen community activist and former independent candidate for Ginninderra, Vanessa Jones, says with smart design it was possible to preserve the area’s green space and provide the shops and services that the growing suburb requires.
Ms Jones said that while the community panel, that engaged during the consultation, indicated support for the Master Plan’s proposal to allow the centre to expand on to parts of the ovals if recreational facilities were moved to the nearby Higgins Ovals, she had not found anybody who supported the plan or agreed with the loss of green space.
“I went to the 2015 meeting of the Belconnen Community Council and they presented both the Government plans and the Kippax Fair plans and it seemed to me the Government subtly and quietly wanted that building on the oval, and the community panel has come back and affirmed that,” she said.
“All the people I meet want our ovals improved for sport and leisure usage.”
Ms Jones said the community had a choice. “Do we do just a big splat development over the oval and concrete a certain percentage of the oval, with apartments on top, or do we do some clever design on the car parks? That’s the choice,” she said.
Ms Jones said that while apartments were an attractive proposition because they were profitable, she would prefer professional offices and medical services on top of any new shops.
She said the community welcomed a bigger centre and would like as many shops and services in West Belconnen as possible but not at the expense of its green space.
A recommendation for part of the surface car park to the west of Woolworths be rezoned to open space to allow for a small ‘people’s park’ was tokenistic, she said.
“It’s very worrying when they offer a pretty little playground and take a huge amount of the ovals for development,” she said.
Her recent Canberra Ideas Facebook page on the issue generated many comments and she has written to local MLAs asking where they stood on the issue.
However, with West Belconnen being safe Labor territory, she believes it tends to be taken for granted.
Ms Jones said other areas such as Yarralumla were much more successful in fighting to keep its green spaces, but that the issue was one for the entire Canberra community.
Comment on changes to the Kippax Group Centre Draft Master Plan close on 16 March.
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