The long-running Giralang shops saga appears to have finally come to an end with Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman ‘calling in’ the current development proposal for a new local centre in the Belconnen suburb.
In March, developer Dimitri Nikias proposed a four-storey plus loft, mixed-use development that includes a supermarket, other ground floor retail and 50 apartments.
The $19 million proposal sought to allow residential development and community uses including a childcare centre, community activity centre, community theatre, cultural facility, educational establishment, place of worship and religious associated use.
It also sought to almost double the present permissible floor space from 5,790 square metres to 11,000 square metres.
Mr Gentleman said he had used his call-in powers and approved the development, with conditions, because it was in the public benefit and such a centre was long overdue for the people of Giralang and surrounding suburbs.
“I trust that the use of my ability to ‘call-in’ this new development application will at last signal the end to a long and frustrating journey for the people of Giralang,” he said.
The Minister said that the initial decision to establish a new local centre was made on 17 August 2011 by the then Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development Simon Corbell. Since then, the people of Giralang had been denied that facility as a result of a series of prolonged legal challenges that eventually went to the High Court.
He said new parking spaces would be provided on Menkar Close, and the existing car park for Giralang Primary School would be improved to provide a new drop-off arrangement and new parking spaces.
Conditions imposed include requirements for additional accessible parking spaces; improved pedestrian links; additional bicycle parking; protection of existing trees; and verge management and temporary traffic management.
Mr Gentleman said the contemporary mixed-use nature of the facility would benefit the community by combining retail, commercial and living opportunities.
“This new dynamic for Giralang will mean greater variety and choice in housing as well as a local centre that will be better integrated as a place, combining living opportunities with retail and commercial spaces,” he said.
“Off-site works, such as parking, landscaping and greater pedestrian connectivity, will provide additional public benefit to the community – particularly for the adjoining school by providing improvements to the current parking and set down arrangements.
“In granting the approval I have noted and acknowledged concerns raised by members of the community and imposed conditions on the development as part of my decision. I have also noted significant support from members of the Giralang community for this development.”
The proponent undertook community consultation during late 2017 and early 2018 prior to lodging the development application with the planning and land authority on 7 March 2018.
Under Section 159 of the Planning and Development Act 2007, the Minister for Planning and Land Management may consider a development application if he or she considers it will respond to a major policy issue, have a substantial effect on achieving objectives of the Territory Plan and provide a substantial public benefit.
The approval decision cannot be reviewed by a third party in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.