Gungahlin’s Cinema project may not be as far away as first thought, with the ACT Government passing a motion in the Assembly to expedite construction of the cinema.
Responding to a Region Media report which revealed developers Krnc Group had an indefinite timeline on the commencement of construction, Michael Pettersson MLA successfully moved a motion with a number of suggestions for his government.
He asked the ACT Government to reaffirm its commitment to the project, to meet with developers to determine their capacity to deliver the cinema and to consider setting an end date for completion of works.
“The ACT Government knew back in 2012 that a cinema would be a good thing for Gungahlin. They weren’t wrong then and they’re not wrong today, a cinema would be a really, really good thing,” Mr Pettersson said.
“Frustratingly, the Gungahlin community has watched the block of land released to become a cinema sit there as a pile of dirt for nearly a decade.
“I’m calling on the government to do whatever it can to ensure that this cinema is delivered as soon as possible.”
As part of the motion, he also called for a revision of the guidelines for granting extensions on development applications and to encourage retail, entertainment and hospitality providers to commence operations in Gungahlin.
While acknowledging the usefulness of being able to extend development applications in certain cases, Mr Pettersson argued that the community was “consistently let down by developers” who act with the knowledge that the ACT Government will “always grant them an extension”.
He spoke of the importance of the project to the development of a late-night economy in Gungahlin and issued a cautionary warning that the area was at risk of becoming a “commuter district”.
Member for Yerrabi James Milligan placed the blame on the government’s original failing to enforce development requirements on the successful bidder and endorsing two different cinema operators which led to a time-consuming legal battle.
He agreed with Mr Pettersson’s suggestion of a meeting with the developer, but believed discussions should be restricted to exploring how the government can assist them in the process. Mr Milligan especially disagreed with the part of the motion which suggested a review of development extension guidelines.
“This motion could affect all developments and should be referred to a proper committee enquiry rather than using an off-the-cuff process to push the debate at this level,” he said.
MLAs Andrew Braddock, Leanne Castley and Jo Clay all subsequently presented on the topic. Mr Braddock and Ms Castley aired their frustrations with the wait for Gungahlin, while Ms Clay supported the importance of a review on planning guidelines, detailing the toll certain planning failures could have on individuals within the community.