14 August 2019

POD's second attempt at Coombs unit development thrown out

| Ian Bushnell
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A render of the original POD development in Coombs. Little changed in the revised plans.

POD Projects Group’s revised proposal for a 107-unit development on a Coombs block zoned for only 40 units has met the same fate as its ill-starred original development application.

In a strong message to developers, the Planning Directorate has thrown out its reconsideration bid, saying the changes did not go far enough, and the fundamental issues of building height and bulk, dwelling density and resident amenity had not been dealt with.

The original plans for the site on the corner of Arthur Blakely Way and Colbung Street included seven storeys and 123 units, and prompted 101 objections from people concerned at the developer cramming so many units on the site, the small size of the units, the lack of green space, and the overshadowing on neighbouring homes.

In its revised proposal, POD removed one level from Buildings 2 and 3 so that the maximum building height was six storeys and less than 21.5 metres, although a central penthouse meant it stayed seven storeys. It also removed the eastern and western top corner units, bringing buildings 1 and 2 to five storeys to stop overshadowing of adjoining properties. It also increased the area for deep-rooted trees and communal open space, as well as the front setback.

But the Notice of Decision says the building heights are still too high, there are too many units, access to sunlight remains insufficient, open space has not been increased and there is still not enough room for deep-rooted trees.

The original two-bedroom units were considered to be too small so POD renamed them as one-bedroom plus study but the planning authority said this was unacceptable and all these were undersized.

“Ad hoc consideration of a large increase in dwelling yield resulting in inappropriate bulk and scale within an existing area that has already been developed in accordance with the EDP [Estate Development Plan] undermines the planning system and sets an undesirable precedent,” the Notice of Decision says.

“As with the current proposal this also results in a development that is significantly inconsistent with surrounding developments and existing streetscape.”

The original two-bedroom units were considered to be too small so POD revised them as one-bedroom and study but the planning authority said this was unacceptable.

The rejection comes as the development application for Koko Molonglo and its KFC store and drive-through met the same fate.

The POD proposal was one of a string of projects requesting a lease variation to cater for an increased number of dwellings, including the Zapari development, also in Coombs, which attracted a record 400 representations, and the Luxe apartments in Wright, both of which were rejected.

A revised Luxe proposal was also submitted but it appears to have been withdrawn and is no longer on the 3 Property Group website.

Molonglo advocate Ryan Hemsley said the planning authority had sent a strong message that development that dramatically increased the number of units permitted on each site just won’t be approved.

“If it had have been [approved] you would have given developers the freedom to treat the Territory Plan as an optional set of guidelines rather than a document with enforceable planning rules,” he said.

“The ball is now in POD’s court. They’re fully aware that their proposal is not accepted by the community or by the independent planning authority.

“I hope they take this refusal on board and come back with a proposal that is consistent with the expectations for the site and that would probably mean a two or three-storey development of no more than 40 units.”

Mr Hemsley said all developers should heed what the planning authority was saying.

“Developers should take a step back and say ‘maybe we should read what the rules say before we spend a ton of money getting these DAs submitted’ because obviously the Planning Directorate is not going to let them slide through anymore,” he said.


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