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Voter action needed following Dickson shops debacle

By Paul Costigan - 13 May 2015 32

dickson-shops3

There have been recent reports that the controversial Dickson supermarket proposal continues to be debated behind closed doors within the government planning bureaucracy.

Residents have devoted hours (days!) attempting to convince this government that residents are not opposed to changes within the shopping centre. It is just that this particular proposal is so wrong for Dickson. People are annoyed by the way this government is not transparently dealing with the concerns being raised. The most obvious issues are:

  • As a signature building for the precinct, residents were looking for something aesthetically pleasing; however the current proposal delivers a monster bland box.
  • This building will not address fundamental environmental issues (yes that includes climate change).
  • The building will dominate the precinct and result in the closure of many small businesses – as the Canberra Centre did to the former Civic businesses.

Over and above these concerns, there are other matters that continue to upset residents.

I was reminded today of the early conversations residents had on the subject of whether Dickson should have a second supermarket. There was support for such a concept and discussions on what sorts of delicatessens and/or supermarkets would be appropriate and  provide competition to the present Big Box retailer.

What has upset people is that if the present inappropriate proposal goes ahead there will be even more Big Box retailers and many small shops will close. The government has been playing with the truth and is using spin to usher in this unsuitable multiple Big Box supermarket proposal. As the government delivered in Civic with the expanded Canberra Centre, there will be many ‘for lease’ signs around the Dickson shops.

Another annoyance is the manner in which development decisions continue to be made. Residents were involved in numerous consultations about the whole Dickson commercial precinct in the hope of seeing positive changes. Rather than something visionary, we now have a  ‘master plan’ that is more of a wish list and is not tied to any planning legislation. Developers can ignore the master plan.

As a result of dubious consultation processes, the supermarket proposal that came forward bears no relation to the aspirations of the residents. It would be easy to blame the developer (and why not) but the reality is that they do what they do because this government’s planning regime allows them to do so.

This government’s consultations on urban matters are regarded as games of smoke and mirrors that result in questionable justifications for the sale of the land. The deal for the Dickson supermarket has been done, the money is in the bank and the residents can only tinker with some of the finer details. Residents fully suspect that the final proposal will be way outside the residents’ requests and aspirations. Sadly it has always been thus in recent decades in Canberra.

Finally residents believe they elect local politicians to deliver good government (such optimism). But it seems that when it comes to planning and development decisions the politicians hide behind the scurrilous excuse that they have to leave such decisions to their professional planning bureaucrats.

So the issues are:

  • Despite having a policy of increasing supermarket competition, this government failed to deliver alternatives to the Big Box retailers.
  • The government planning processes are not resident friendly and are not transparent.
  • The politicians continue to hide behind the discredited notion of the independence of their planning authority instead of listening to residents.

The forthcoming decisions on the Dickson shops will be an indicator of the commitment of local politicians to the voters, the residents. It has been suggested that if the current Dickson supermarket proposal goes ahead, that residents should use the next ACT election to send a message to the Chief Minister who is also the Minister for Urban Development.

Of course, we will have to wait and see what happens in Dickson (and elsewhere in Canberra such as Yarralumla).  So watch this space!

What’s Your opinion?


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32 Responses to
Voter action needed following Dickson shops debacle
rubaiyat 7:46 pm 15 May 15

Realm said :

John Moulis said :

Realm said :

sepi said :

Dickson is old, extremely tired, and run down. It needs a major refurbishment.

Yeah, just look how well the “refurbishment” at Manuka shops went. That Manuka Plaza monstrosity must surely go down as the most disastrous property development in Canberra’s history.

You’ve got to be joking, surely. Or at least greatly exaggerating. It was by no means a perfect development but to call it the most disastrous property development in Canberra’s history is extremely over the top. And it’s short comings were completely unrelated to what is proposed for Dickson. The Manuka development tossed Starbucks, Dymocks, Sanity (All chain stores) into what was essentially a cafe/boutique shopping precinct in one of the richest parts of Canberra. It didn’t fit the mould. The Dickson development is adding two supermarkets to compete with one of the most successful Woolworths in the country, and minimalistic apartments in a low-socio economic area. They’re not even comparable.

Going on what we have seen so far of the Dickson Proposal there IS a lot in common.

It is also simply bloody awful.

rubaiyat 7:37 pm 15 May 15

Realm said :

John Moulis said :

Realm said :

sepi said :

Dickson is old, extremely tired, and run down. It needs a major refurbishment.

Yeah, just look how well the “refurbishment” at Manuka shops went. That Manuka Plaza monstrosity must surely go down as the most disastrous property development in Canberra’s history.

You’ve got to be joking, surely. Or at least greatly exaggerating. It was by no means a perfect development but to call it the most disastrous property development in Canberra’s history is extremely over the top. And it’s short comings were completely unrelated to what is proposed for Dickson. The Manuka development tossed Starbucks, Dymocks, Sanity (All chain stores) into what was essentially a cafe/boutique shopping precinct in one of the richest parts of Canberra. It didn’t fit the mould. The Dickson development is adding two supermarkets to compete with one of the most successful Woolworths in the country, and minimalistic apartments in a low-socio economic area. They’re not even comparable.

No, it just was bloody awful.

No further explanation needed.

The residential part facing Captain Cook Crescent was I think the prototype for the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

Realm 4:18 pm 15 May 15

John Moulis said :

Realm said :

sepi said :

Dickson is old, extremely tired, and run down. It needs a major refurbishment.

Yeah, just look how well the “refurbishment” at Manuka shops went. That Manuka Plaza monstrosity must surely go down as the most disastrous property development in Canberra’s history.

You’ve got to be joking, surely. Or at least greatly exaggerating. It was by no means a perfect development but to call it the most disastrous property development in Canberra’s history is extremely over the top. And it’s short comings were completely unrelated to what is proposed for Dickson. The Manuka development tossed Starbucks, Dymocks, Sanity (All chain stores) into what was essentially a cafe/boutique shopping precinct in one of the richest parts of Canberra. It didn’t fit the mould. The Dickson development is adding two supermarkets to compete with one of the most successful Woolworths in the country, and minimalistic apartments in a low-socio economic area. They’re not even comparable.

John Moulis 3:05 pm 15 May 15

Realm said :

sepi said :

Dickson is old, extremely tired, and run down. It needs a major refurbishment.

Yeah, just look how well the “refurbishment” at Manuka shops went. That Manuka Plaza monstrosity must surely go down as the most disastrous property development in Canberra’s history.

Mark of Sydney 3:01 pm 15 May 15

arescarti42 said :

I’m sick of the claim that local residents are somehow universally opposed to the proposal.

I live in the area and can’t wait for Aldi and Coles to come to Dickson.

There inner north is already extremely well served by small grocery stores, which is fantastic, however they are not a replacement for the greater range and lower prices of a full line supermarket.

You need to remember that there are local residents and local residents. When the OP refers to local residents he means people like himself, owners of mainly detached dwellings who bought into the area decades ago and want to keep it for themselves — such as the former Greens MLA who, according to the Canberra Times, is opposed to an apartment development on a former school site in Downer.

Then there’s the rest of us, apartment dwellers in the main, who appreciate being able to live in such a convenient area but want better amenities, even full-line supermarkets and food markets that the increased population can support. Oddly enough, I suspect our carbon footprint is on average substantially lower the other group who bang on about sustainability.

The thing is, local resident groups in Canberra invariably fail to represent the new generation who live in apartments.

arescarti42 2:01 pm 15 May 15

I’m sick of the claim that local residents are somehow universally opposed to the proposal.

I live in the area and can’t wait for Aldi and Coles to come to Dickson.

There inner north is already extremely well served by small grocery stores, which is fantastic, however they are not a replacement for the greater range and lower prices of a full line supermarket.

Realm 11:38 am 15 May 15

sepi said :

Plenty of people shop at IGA. I would rather pay double than enter Dickson woolworths. there are plenty of supermarkets around – civic, gungahlin, and IGAs at Hackett and Ainslie. I don’t even see why Dickson really needs another supermarket.

the good parts of Dickson are the pool, the library, the restaurants, the little strips of shops and cafes you can walk along outside (fruit shop/health food/clothes/key cutter/bakeries/newsagent/banks etc).

Those will all be made worse under this new plan, all for the sake of getting another supermarket – I really don’t see the point of doing anything.

If this were indeed the case, the Dickson Woolworths wouldn’t even come close to being one of the busiest in the country, as people would instead just shop at the plethora of local IGAs in Hackett, Watson, Ainslie (Which is a fantastic IGA and may be an exception), O’Connor, Lyneham, etc. But it’s not, and people chose to shop at Woolworths because it is cheaper, and the range is better. This will only be improved by the addition of some competition.

Dickson is old, extremely tired, and run down. It needs a major refurbishment. And whilst I agree with you on environmental issues with the building proposal, asking for an innovative and architecturally advanced design is a bit rich for what is essentially a shopping centre in a lower-socio economic section of Canberra

chewy14 11:14 am 15 May 15

Felix the Cat said :

So you want more supermarkets at Dickson but you don’t want a “big box” one such as Coles or Aldi. So you want an IGA type one which due to their smaller size have less buying power then the “big box” ones and therefore have higher retail prices so no one will shop there.

It’s more about not wanting the high density development that comes along with such proposals i think.

The local residents already have their little piece of inner city living and they don’t want anyone else partaking. Those people should live out in Gungahlin or South Tuggeranong and leave the leafy inner north/south alone for current residents.

Masquara 7:40 pm 14 May 15

Any squeeze on parking in Dickson and everyone will shop at Ainslie.

rubaiyat 5:24 pm 14 May 15

I’m fascinated that Woolworths actually has an Architectural department.

No sign in any of their developments of them doing anything “Architectural”.

I mentioned the same to the head of the Commonwealth Bank’s Architectural Office at a party once when we were introduced. Didn’t go down well.

It was spontaneous though. I had thought about it for years, that we seem to be past the days of public corporations actually caring enough about their buildings to make an effort.

sepi 2:23 pm 14 May 15

Plenty of people shop at IGA. I would rather pay double than enter Dickson woolworths. there are plenty of supermarkets around – civic, gungahlin, and IGAs at Hackett and Ainslie. I don’t even see why Dickson really needs another supermarket.

the good parts of Dickson are the pool, the library, the restaurants, the little strips of shops and cafes you can walk along outside (fruit shop/health food/clothes/key cutter/bakeries/newsagent/banks etc).

Those will all be made worse under this new plan, all for the sake of getting another supermarket – I really don’t see the point of doing anything.

Felix the Cat 1:57 pm 14 May 15

So you want more supermarkets at Dickson but you don’t want a “big box” one such as Coles or Aldi. So you want an IGA type one which due to their smaller size have less buying power then the “big box” ones and therefore have higher retail prices so no one will shop there.

Paul Costigan 10:27 am 14 May 15

Dear Bolbi and others

There has been a petition organised by others in the Dickson Residents Group. In fact due to some obscure rule within the local assembly, the first petition was not able to be tabled, so everyone had to go out and stand around the shops to re-do the petition. I must stress, people are happy enough to see changes and new shops – but not that monster. The aesthetics are just one major cause for disappointment. Surely for such an important site the Chief Minister (who lives locally) could insist on a signature piece of architecture. Maybe he has no design sense.

The frustrating thing is that while people have submitted clear and well researched objections to this monster big box, no-one knows what is happening ( are deals are being stitched up) behind closed doors within the planning agencies – so we are expecting to be let down again! Which is why I hinted that the next elections may have to be used to directly target the politician responsible for this, and many other (Yarralumla) debacles.

Bolbi 10:39 pm 13 May 15

I’m interested, what level of support are you gaining for your position? Are you getting petitions with thousands of signatures? Are people objecting to the idea of having competition for the larger retailers? How many people are complaining about the aesthetics of the proposal?

sepi 9:56 pm 13 May 15

I am so depressed that they are happily ruining dickson.

what can be done????

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