The loss of a great swathe of green space to feed the expansion of the Kippax Fair shopping centre has left a shadow over the Kippax Group Centre Master Plan released today.
After four years of community consultation, the final Master Plan paves the way for an upgrade of the centre that includes mixed use and residential development up to six storeys, better parking, green infrastructure such as trees and a pocket park, improved public spaces and bicycle and pedestrian connections, but allowing the Kippax Fair owners to expand across 16,000 square metres of the Holt playing fields has left the community with a bitter taste in its mouth.
Belconnen Community Council chair Glen Hyde said that with 30,000 people moving into West Belconnen and Ginninderry over the next few decades, a bigger facility that met everyone’s needs was welcome but not if green space was removed and not replaced elsewhere.
Kippax Fair had conducted its own community consultation on its proposal which it said found support for the expansion plan, and a subsequent Government engagement with a community panel found likewise but Mr Hyde said the Government finding relied on one online poll and some minor suggestions that did not reflect the entirety of input from the panel.
“We’re asking the Government to look at replacing it in Macgregor or Ginninderry as the centre expands,” he said. “If they do that and find space that can be brought online quickly they will probably find people are more receptive to the redevelopment.”
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But at present all the Government is suggesting is the upgrading of Higgins Oval which will still leave the area with a deficit of green space.
“Once you lose it you never get it back,” Mr Hyde said.
The council had suggested alternatives to Kippax Fair including going up instead of spreading out, underground parking or expanding west on to car parks but the owners had said those options were too expensive, particularly underground car parks.
He said the Government was talking to sporting clubs about alternative arrangements but ‘what about the hundreds of residents who walk their dogs through there, who take their children across to kick a footy around or have a run and play?’
“There’s a range of participative activities that will have to be located away from that area,” Mr Hyde said.
Community activist Vanessa Jones said smart architecture could deliver the bigger and better facility the community wanted without having to concrete over precious green space.
But the government seemed more intent on selling off public land and boosting rates revenue.
“I think it’s about good architecture and preserving the green space and getting our best creative thinkers to design excellent business resources using the precious land we have,” she said.
“The challenge in all of Canberra now is preserving what we love about Canberra, that’s the green space and the bush aspect, and then getting what we can, especially in the neglected areas like West Belconnen, getting the best facilities and private businesses that the growing population needs.
“We need green space and it will never come back again.”
Mr Hyde said the Master Plan and the supporting draft variation to the Territory Plan (DV361) allowed the Kippax Fair owners to proceed with a development application that would give the community more opportunities to argue its case.
The playing fields will have to be rezoned to allow development.
To view the master plan go here.