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‘Shock and outrage’ at six-storey Curtin shops plan; rally 11am today

By Charlotte Harper - 21 January 2017 20

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The Curtin Residents Association (CRA) is hoping hundreds of people will attend a rally at Curtin shops at 11am today to express their concerns about a development application for a proposed six-storey commercial and residential building overlooking the shopping centre square.

The building that could be demolished as early as this October is currently home to tenants including BeyondQ Bookstore and its cafe, The Hungry Buddha restaurant and Curtin Milk Bar and Pizza.

The CRA is opposed to the Curtin Place development, with one organiser describing today’s rally as “the next in what seems a series of ground swell community reactions to contentious planning/development proposals afflicting Canberra of late”.

The existing rectangular building on the site was originally constructed by the late Nickolas Tsoulias, and is still owned by the family through his daughter Sophia Haridemos. The Haridemos family argue the existing building is at the end of its useful life and want to replace it with a contemporary shopping and residential development featuring some 50 apartments.

“The residential floors would be sufficiently set bak to ensure that the public square continues to be a sunny community space without additional wind impact,” they argue on the Curtin Place website.

The family has appointed a design team led by Cox Architecture to create a $13.6 million mixed use development consistent with the Curtin Group Centre Master Plan released by the ACT Government in late 2015. It would feature three basement levels, a ground floor retail level and five residential floors.

The design for the upper residential floors proposes to include a setback from the public square to prevent shadowing or wind impact and to ensure year-round solar access to the square. The setback would include a large open garden on the first floor of the residential units that would be available for use by unit occupiers.

Should the Curtin Place development proposal for a six-storey mixed use building at Curtin shops be approved in its current form?

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The secretary of the CRA, Chris Johnson, said volunteers from the organisation had spoken to shoppers from the suburb as well as further afield, including Woden, Molonglo, Weston and the Inner South.

“The level of shock and outrage in their feedback has been overwhelming”, Mr Johnson said.

“Most don’t oppose development of the shopping centre but they do object to the size of the building and its potential impacts on shadowing, wind, parking and traffic.

“There is no justification for throwing out the building height rules for group centres, or ignoring the Draft Master Plan for Curtin.”

The draft plan limits building heights immediately around the shopping centre square to two storeys. The southern end of the site at 44 Curtin Place would be subject to a four-storey limit.

Mr Johnson said the rally would kick off at 11am with local musician Dan Fernandes singing a protest song written especially for the occasion. There were several speeches planned, with speakers to include local member and Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur; Jenny Stewart and Fiona Carrick from the Woden Valley Community Council; and Robin Stanton, Chris Johnson and Marita Baier-Gorman, Curtin residents.

Ms Le Couteur reiterated the Greens’ calls for the 2015 draft Curtin Master Plan to be finalised before any new developments were approved.

“The whole point of developing master plans in consultation with the community is to ensure that the voices of residents, businesses and Canberrans who work and live in the area are heard in future decisions,” she said.

“The draft Master Plan does not belong in the bottom drawer of someone’s desk.

“The ACT Government should finalise the Master Plan as soon as possible and consequently update the precinct codes in the Territory Plan which governs building heights in the area.”

Mr Johnson said attendees at today’s daily would be able to sign the CRA’s petition and find out how to lodge an objection to the development with the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate.

“All shops and businesses in Curtin know about the rally and we will be aiming for minimal disruption to businesses and shoppers,” he said.

Overflow parking will be available at Holy Trinity Church on Strangways Street and at St James and Good Shepherd churches on Gillies Street.

Seating will be available for those who need it.

Mr Johnson is available to respond to enquiries about the rally on 0401 498 684.

The cut-off date to lodge responses to the development application is January 31. Responses can be submitted to the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate at:
http://www.planning.act.gov.au/development_applications/pubnote/development_applications_ordered_by_district

under the heading Woden Valley – Curtin (Block 7 Section 62).

Pictured above is a silhouette diagram of the proposed building as viewed from the east.

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20 Responses to
‘Shock and outrage’ at six-storey Curtin shops plan; rally 11am today
SomethingSomethingRu 12:24 am 26 Jan 17

bringontheevidence said :

rommeldog56 said :

bringontheevidence said :

Yes, because apartments have really got in the way of vibrancy and nightlife at Kingston Foreshore and in Braddon….

Of course. How obvious. Like, Curtin shops is just so similar to to Kingston Foreshore and Braddon……..

The simple point is that apartments and density are likely to increase the number of cafes, bars and restaurants in an area, not lead to them being excluded.

Personally I think 6 levels is entirely appropriate for a location like Curtin. Remember this is a local centre that’s only 300m or so from the (likely) route of the light rail.

I’d really like to agree with you on this but those are both locations where any sane person could point out to anyone complaining about noise, that they knew they were moving into a lively area when they purchased/signed a lease. One hopes that would be WHY they chose to live where they did.

In the case of Curtin shops, restaurants and other venues are merely things we’d hope might evolve following redevelopment. It’d probably take several years for anything fantastic to take shape – years in which the right of the new residents to complete and utter silence after dark would solidify.

I am a little involved in the entertainment scene around Canberra, and just about all the places I can think of where you’re actually allowed to make a bit of noise DON’T have units hanging right over them. Even in otherwise pleasant New Acton I have heard of complaints about live music – ridiculous, yet strangely typical.

Yes to more units in that central part of Curtin, particularly if the light rail does eventually stop down there at the Carruthers St bridge, but a big NO to having them directly above the shops.

dungfungus 5:51 pm 25 Jan 17

bringontheevidence said :

rommeldog56 said :

bringontheevidence said :

Yes, because apartments have really got in the way of vibrancy and nightlife at Kingston Foreshore and in Braddon….

Of course. How obvious. Like, Curtin shops is just so similar to to Kingston Foreshore and Braddon……..

The simple point is that apartments and density are likely to increase the number of cafes, bars and restaurants in an area, not lead to them being excluded.

Personally I think 6 levels is entirely appropriate for a location like Curtin. Remember this is a local centre that’s only 300m or so from the (likely) route of the light rail.

My understanding was that the planned light rail (as distinct from trams) between Canberra City and Woden wouldn’t be stopping anywhere along Adelaide Avenue.

The busses don’t now and there is little scope for high density housing close to the route. The high density will be around Woden Town Centre, not Curtin shops.

bringontheevidence 1:24 pm 25 Jan 17

rommeldog56 said :

bringontheevidence said :

Yes, because apartments have really got in the way of vibrancy and nightlife at Kingston Foreshore and in Braddon….

Of course. How obvious. Like, Curtin shops is just so similar to to Kingston Foreshore and Braddon……..

The simple point is that apartments and density are likely to increase the number of cafes, bars and restaurants in an area, not lead to them being excluded.

Personally I think 6 levels is entirely appropriate for a location like Curtin. Remember this is a local centre that’s only 300m or so from the (likely) route of the light rail.

crackerpants 12:24 pm 25 Jan 17

dungfungus said :

rommeldog56 said :

bringontheevidence said :

Yes, because apartments have really got in the way of vibrancy and nightlife at Kingston Foreshore and in Braddon….

Of course. How obvious. Like, Curtin shops is just so similar to to Kingston Foreshore and Braddon……..

You won’t find pulled pork or smashed avos on the menus at Curtin – you can even get a cup of tea there.

Curtin has something for everyone – there’s even Red Brick Cafe for the hipsters (they have milk crates, do great milkshakes for the kids as an after school treat, and don’t abuse avocados as far as I can tell).

I appreciate that the owners wish to renew the existing building, but there’s renewal, and then there’s “what on earth are they thinking??”

Every day I walk past the derelict Alexander and Albermarle sites in Woden. I have lost track of all the rumour and counter-rumour related to the sites, so I won’t attempt to recount any of it here, but as the plantlife and the pondlife and Father Time make their marks, is there anyone at Government level actually looking at development across Canberra, rather than in isolation respective to each individual development proposal? And perhaps what Canberra and its denizens might need or indeed like, rather than the developers?

dungfungus 10:11 am 25 Jan 17

rommeldog56 said :

bringontheevidence said :

Yes, because apartments have really got in the way of vibrancy and nightlife at Kingston Foreshore and in Braddon….

Of course. How obvious. Like, Curtin shops is just so similar to to Kingston Foreshore and Braddon……..

You won’t find pulled pork or smashed avos on the menus at Curtin – you can even get a cup of tea there.

rommeldog56 10:04 am 25 Jan 17

bringontheevidence said :

Yes, because apartments have really got in the way of vibrancy and nightlife at Kingston Foreshore and in Braddon….

Of course. How obvious. Like, Curtin shops is just so similar to to Kingston Foreshore and Braddon……..

bringontheevidence 8:47 am 25 Jan 17

Yes, because apartments have really got in the way of vibrancy and nightlife at Kingston Foreshore and in Braddon….

NW 8:36 am 24 Jan 17

dungfungus said :

rommeldog56 said :

Media report this afternoon said that the organisers claim that about 800 attended.

The New York Times would call that “an alternative estimate”.

FYI the rally seems to have at least 700 people at 11ish on Saturday.

NW 8:11 am 24 Jan 17

As a new resident to Canberra (5 years) and having seen the difference in a planned city vs Sydney vs Internationally. Building high density housing in these small community squares is a terrible idea. Apartments have existing since the roman era, Canberra was planned in opposition to the estate and tenement housing (which failed). There is a wealth of international and Australian research on the long term negative health effects of high density apartments and these kinds of all in one exercises. Woden is already slowly dying as a result of these kinds of decisions losing facilities left and right. Yes Curtin needs more retail development, yes it needs rejuvenation but Canberra doesn’t need to lower its standards, ignore ancient and modern evidence on high density house practice or throw the wonderful planned Canberra baby out with the bath water to do it.

dungfungus 7:48 am 24 Jan 17

rommeldog56 said :

Media report this afternoon said that the organisers claim that about 800 attended.

The New York Times would call that “an alternative estimate”.

SomethingSomethingRu 12:30 am 24 Jan 17

Chris Mordd Richards said :

I support overall some form of expanded development at Curtin, it could be better than what is currently there, but I also acknowledge the valid concerns of local residents regarding the maximum height and the shade/wind issues that might bring in.

Personally I think I would be happier to see it capped to five (5) stories max instead of six (6), as a halfway compromise between respecting it not being too tall and also allowing reasonable growth for this centre overall.

I went along to the gathering on Saturday, and one particular comment really opened my eyes. Until then my main concern had been the rental-only aspect, and how that might turn out … no-one else seems all that bothered about it, so fair enough I guess.

This guy spoke with some sorely-needed vision – yes, the “square” is unusual for local shops, and rightly cherished, but the place is dead as a doornail after dark. He felt Curtin Shops should be aspiring to a little more vibrancy in that respect – sure, there’s Beyond Q and Hungry Buddha, but they’re a) underground in the first place and b) bulldozer-fodder if this gets up. How great would a local version of Tilleys, Edgars or even A Bite To Eat, be in the square?

As our man said – you can kiss goodbye to that if there are units and brand new residents sitting right smack on top of it all ( … ermahgerd … some brand new NIMBYs … in those units that the other NIMBYs protested against … oh the irony!!). Although, I’m starting to agree … NIMBY is a really fun, enjoyable word to say … no wonder people fling it around like penny lollies!!

This proposal will guide development in that square for a generation or more. We cannot blame the existing owners for proposing a lazy route to more wealth for themselves but, as local business people of some repute, they should be given a greater challenge.

They grandly talk of bringing the centre into the 21st century – to me that now means NO units. Build for business or leisure instead on those upper floors – let Curtin have more units, but at a distance from the shops where locals enjoying themselves at new venues and in new ways will not impinge on the rights of residents (existing and yet to be welcomed).

Commercial interests (occasionally somewhat narrow) got Curtin Shops this far … and not a bad effort at all, just ask anyone who was there on Saturday to enjoy the place. Throw in some vision and it could be something for the owners, residents and visitors to REALLY be proud of.

chrisJ 6:20 pm 23 Jan 17

not 100 – where do d you get that nonsense figure? – Eight hundred (800) were there.

rommeldog56 3:56 pm 23 Jan 17

Media report this afternoon said that the organisers claim that about 800 attended.

devils_advocate 9:19 am 23 Jan 17

In a suburb of more than 5,000, allegedly 100 turned up to express their “outrage” and another 1000 supposedly signed a petition. Despite the organisers having letterboxed the entire suburb.
The problem with objecting to everything is that soon enough, no-body takes anything you say seriously.

Chris Mordd Richards 7:37 am 23 Jan 17

Hmm, this isn’t an easy one for me. I am well aware of the concerns of the ACT Greens and Caroline Le Couter regarding this, have been a party member since July 2016, and this is also one of my local shops I visit regularly as well.

I support overall some form of expanded development at Curtin, it could be better than what is currently there, but I also acknowledge the valid concerns of local residents regarding the maximum height and the shade/wind issues that might bring in.

Personally I think I would be happier to see it capped to five (5) stories max instead of six (6), as a halfway compromise between respecting it not being too tall and also allowing reasonable growth for this centre overall.

I have not seen the plans yet myself but acknowledge the developers comments regarding the offset of the upper levels to address the shade/wind issues, and am prepared to reserve judgement on this overall until I can view the actual detailed plans itself.

I argue against NIBYY’ism as you saw recently in John H’s other threads, and am careful to not be a NIMBY on this as it is in my backyard. There is a need to find a suitable balance here and make sure the development respects the current aesthetic of Curtin, but at the same time we should not just stand in the way of change purely for the sake of opposition either, there is room for growth there, it is needed, and it will be good if done respectfully I think.

Will be looking forward to seeing the plans themselves and that the ACT Government engages in proper community consultation on this unlike other recent development proposals in the ACT which have had insufficient community consultation done on.

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