5 June 2019

Residents Association drops action against Curtin shops development

| Ian Bushnell
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Curtin shops

A render of the proposed development at Curtin shops.

The Curtin Residents Association has cleared the way for the multi-storey mixed-use development at the Curtin shops to go ahead by withdrawing its application to have the project’s approval set aside.

The Association went to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal in January to challenge the planning authority’s 2018 conditional approval of the five-storey building at 41 Curtin Place.

With a fenced off derelict building, businesses hurting and the developers JGSProperty, acting for the Haridemos family, mounting a strong campaign against the delay, the Association was becoming increasingly isolated.

In a letter to members on Monday (3 June), Association president Chris Johnson said it had listened to the community in making this decision and was particularly aware of the impact of ongoing delays on local business owners.

“Our foremost priority is to support the Curtin community, including the small business owners. Noting that the developers have already stated that they are ready to start work immediately, we encourage them to do so and to deliver a high-quality building as soon as possible in the interests of the community,” Mr Johnson said.

He said the CRA had initially lodged the action in the hope of negotiating to ensure that the development would provide adequate open communal space and public amenities, maintain sunlight and not reduce pedestrian safety.

“Our objective of trying to get a better solution was not met and, rather than unnecessarily create further delay, the Association has withdrawn the application,” he said.

JGSProperty’s Director Project and Development Management Zelko Mandic said last month that the project was positioned to begin work within weeks of satisfying all approval conditions such as waste disposal and parking matters.

The Curtin community could see a new shopping centre within 12 to 18 months of the project commencing, he said.

The Haridemos family ended leases at the shops in anticipation of the original six-storey proposal being approved, fencing off the building and removing asbestos.

But after a vigorous campaign led by the Association, ACTPLA knocked back the proposal, a master plan was developed with community consultation and the family eventually resubmitted a scaled back proposal for reconsideration. A storey was taken off, setbacks increased and the number of units reduced from 50 to 36.

Its conditional approval sparked the next round of conflict but the community and businesses were tired of the delay.

Mr Mandic laid the blame for the impact on businesses at the feet of the Association but Mr Johnson always maintained it was the Haridemos family who pushed out businesses well before there was any hope of work starting.

He said in a statement: “The leaseholder of 41 Curtin Place welcomes this development and looks forward to delivering a project that is in the interest of Curtin residents, the Curtin business community and the broader Woden and Canberra community as soon as possible – this is a sensible and long overdue decision by the CRA Executive”.

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