Loss of office buildings overshadows release of Gungahlin plan

Lachlan Roberts 2 October 2019 17

Gungahlin Community Council president Peter Elford said he was concerned about how much land was zoned for residential buildings compared to office blocks. Photo: George Tsotsos.

The loss of proposed office buildings to more residential highrises in the Gungahlin town centre has cast a shadow over the ACT Government’s updated plan for Gungahlin, with residents concerned about the lack of jobs in the growing suburb.

The 2010 Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Report allocated 200,000 square metres to office buildings; the latest plan has cut office space to 100,000 square metres after only 13,500 square metres of commercial office floor space in the suburb of Gungahlin had been taken up by 2016.

The plan recommended a “more informed” target of 100,000 square metres for commercial office floor space over the long term, taking into account the opportunities that light rail will present and the amount of undeveloped land available in the town centre.

“The 100,000 square metre target equates to approximately one square metre of commercial office space per resident in the Gungahlin district,” the plan said.

Gungahlin Community Council president Peter Elford said he was concerned about how much land was zoned for residential buildings compared to office blocks.

“They are looking to allow residential buildings at a much greater scale than had originally been designed and the amount of land zoned and reserved for office blocks has significantly decreased since the 2010 report,” Mr Elford told Region Media.

“Their rationale is that they haven’t seen a demand. If they are not seeing the demand, perhaps we need to do something to generate the demand. Also, once that land is lost, it is lost for the next generation.”

Mr Elford said other major town centres have big government agencies driving their job growth, with Tuggeranong home to the Department of Social Services, while Department of Home Affairs was in Belconnen.

“Apart from the ACT Government’s own building which employs around 500 staff, we don’t have much in Gungahlin,” he said. “I don’t think this is how Canberra was envisaged.

“In a perfect outcome, we would have the employment base of Canberra distributed around the town centres in a sensible way but Gungahlin has not had any substantial investment for office infrastructure.”

Yerrabi MLA and Minister for Employment, Disability and Government Procurement Suzanne Orr, representing Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman, said the plan balances the opportunities for different types of development over coming years.

Ms Orr said the new plan will revitalise Gungahlin. Photo: File.

Ms Orr said there will also be more business and employment opportunities in Gungahlin with more office buildings planned for the town centre while preserving the town centre’s village feel.

“The Gungahlin town centre has grown and evolved since the last planning study in 2010, attracting new residents, business and investment,” Ms Orr said. “Light rail is also changing the centre’s dynamics.

“We know the Gungahlin community wants to see more employment opportunities within the town centre, that’s why two large blocks of land in the centre will be reserved for large-scale office buildings. They are close to the light rail corridor to make it easy for office workers to commute.

“There are already some positive signs of renewed interest in the centre with Defence Housing Australia recently announcing it would bring its headquarters and 290 employees to the centre in 2022. We look forward to seeing more interest in our town centre.”

Buildings of up to 10 storeys will also now be permitted along the light rail corridor, stepping down to six and three storeys on the town centre fringe while a minimum building height of four storeys will be permitted along Flemington Road and three storeys along the northern side of The Valley Avenue.

Mr Elford said the height restrictions seemed “sensible” and is consistent with feedback from the community but said the “horse had already bolted” in the west Gungahlin precinct, with large scale high rises already approved in the area.

To view the Gungahlin plan and to have your say, click here.

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17 Responses to Loss of office buildings overshadows release of Gungahlin plan
Darron Marks Darron Marks 10:27 am 03 Oct 19

We are beginning to use up all of our CBD space. The ACT Government have now released plans to expand the CBD out to the existing apartments on Flemmington road.

But we now know that the ACT Government has included plans to reduce the business use zoning to include "mixed use" (code for residential with a few shops at the ground floor)

The Government seems to think that is what the population of Gungahlin want. More residential apartments in the CBD but I don't think that is the case at all.

We will only have one opportunity to decide the makeup of the Gungahlin CBD. And we want to make sure it is in the interests of the people of Gungahlin.

We have requested the justification for the reduction of business zoning. Because it has already been used to justify Geocon modifying the zoning for a previous "business park" for mixed use residential (The infinity towers high rise precinct) Due to an apparent lack of interest from business.

The Bunnings development literally across the road had no such issues in attracting retail business to the site ?

So the question remains what is the justification in halving the business zoning from 200,000 sq metres to 100,000. Due to this new "apparently lack of interest" did they have a BBQ and no one showed up ?

Michael Quirk Michael Quirk 9:13 am 03 Oct 19

Jobs are not just along the light rail route. Employment in Gungahlin would increase the occupancy of carriages to Gungahlin in the morning and from the district in the afternoon.

michael quirk michael quirk 8:56 am 03 Oct 19

The reduction in office space is short-sighted. The centre needs to be able to respond to major office opportunities if and when they arise. Such employment would assist businesses, increase the efficiency of light rail and reduce road congestion. The Federal and ACT Governments need to do more to attract employment to the centre. Maintain the office space at 200,000m2 and review the limit in 10 years time. To sell the land for residential before then would demonstrate strategic planning is dead in the ACT

Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 6:09 am 03 Oct 19

This government wants everybody to get on the road and travel into Civic, where the commercial profits and kickbacks are highest.

Wing Nut Wing Nut 11:18 pm 02 Oct 19

If only have to look at the rent per sq/m to see it’s not viable.

Tim Cole Tim Cole 8:45 pm 02 Oct 19

We need major employment, to reduce the number of commuters who have to work in the other districts.

Roderick Saunders Roderick Saunders 8:43 pm 02 Oct 19

How much future growth is predicted for office-based work in Canberra? I don't expect the number of APS employees in Canberra to substantially increase anytime soon, if ever, and more people in white collar roles will be working from home.

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 6:58 pm 02 Oct 19

the roads are all ready to small for the traffic we get and you want more people in the town center?

Annil Singh Annil Singh 6:40 pm 02 Oct 19

more apartments apparently, never enough... if in doubt go ask Geocon for their opinion, CBR times does it alot

Michael Babb Michael Babb 6:35 pm 02 Oct 19

"High Rise". Bit of a stretch calling almost anything in Canberra that

David Brown David Brown 5:33 pm 02 Oct 19

Homes before high rise

Christopher Mawbey Christopher Mawbey 4:36 pm 02 Oct 19

Why can't it be a mix of both. Offices I the bottom resi up top

Robert Hawes Robert Hawes 4:25 pm 02 Oct 19

Should have more jobs in Gungahlin. Then the LRV could have a full load of passengers going both ways at peak times.

Brad Mann Brad Mann 4:09 pm 02 Oct 19

We don’t need more residential high-rises The ACT government has to realise Canberra is not Sydney or Melbourne and it’s never going to be. Just not in the ACT but Right around the country There Has to be new laws on major investors just look at Woden and parts of bell Connon it looks like something out of Russia

Shan Weereratne Shan Weereratne 3:15 pm 02 Oct 19

The ACT govt always takes the lazy and shortsighted approach in dealing with such issues. Barr should observe the Gungahlin dormitory workers on mass migration every morning and evening, clogging major roads thus reflecting such a negative outlook of this planning debacle. Most of the apartments in the Infinity towers look empty and unoccupied at night and they keep approving more. Looks like the $billion Tram unsurprisingly has not made much of an impact to the betterment of our lives.

Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 3:07 pm 02 Oct 19

Isn’t that what the Tram is for, to get people to their city office jobs?

    Vander Leal Vander Leal 3:14 pm 02 Oct 19

    clearly, that's the plan...

    which throws the canberra plan in the bin, but surely there are a lot of influential and lobbyists riding the Gravy Tram, erm, Train.

    See... you already call it "city"... despite the plan of Canberra of not having a CBD, but multiple town centres, keeping people from be commuting all to a single place and the very fact Canberra didn't know what traffic jam was until the pushes to make Civic the "city centre"... (aka, 10yrs ago, when ATO moved there, and all the Constitution Av buildings renovations, etc).

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