The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal appears to have drawn a line in the sand for the ACT Planning and Land Authority and developers in overturning the approval of Coles’ Dickson shops development proposal.
In a damning indictment of ACTPLA’s processes, the Tribunal found there were multiple breaches of the planning rules in the approved proposal, sending Coles back to the drawing board.
Local resident Josip Sladic; retail giant Charter Hall, the Woolworths landlord at Dickson; and community members had appealed against the approval of the development of a new shopping centre and residential apartments on 7866 square metres of open car park opposite Woolworths and the Dickson Library, on the corner of Antill and Badham Streets.
Downer Community Association and North Canberra Community Council were also joined to the action.
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Opponents of the Coles development had argued that it was inconsistent with the Territory Plan and the Planning Act.
The Tribunal found that the proposal did not meet requirements of site planning and urban design, and did not provide an efficient, safe and attractive urban environment, with an insufficient streetscape and poor landscaping.
Nor did it provide sufficient traffic and pedestrian safety or a safe and attractive shared zone.
It also found that the proposal did not respect the urban setting of the heritage-registered Library and provide a sufficient buffer zone.
The Tribunal took the ACT Heritage Council to task for its advice to ACTPLA, saying there was insufficient and inaccurate information for representatives of the Heritage Unit to conclude that there could be “no objections” to the proposed development.
It found the Council misread drawings, failed to address the specific requirement of the Conservation Management Plan that there be “a buffer area around the Dickson Library where no new buildings may be developed”; and that its conclusion that the development application “was not complex or of major consequence in relation to the Act” was wrong.
The Tribunal said that even if the development proposal were found to meet the requirements of the codes, the significant issues with traffic and pedestrian interaction, encroachment into the Library and inadequate landscaping would mean it would refuse to approve the development.
The Tribunal described the development application, and the evidence surrounding it, as a moving feast, putting ACTPLA firmly in the frame.
“What the proposed development consists of has been committed to writing. However, even with that level of detail, there remains uncertainty, not least because it is open to a developer to depart from approved plans in some respects with the approval of the Authority,” it said.
Coles has not said whether it will appeal the decision.
The original development application of 12 December 2014 was for a seven-storey development containing two supermarkets and other ground floor and first floor commercial tenancies, 155 residential units, two levels of basement car parking, a podium level carpark and associated works off-site.
This was revised to 140 units, with changes to floor plans and building elevations.
ACTPLA eventually approved the amended proposal on 29 June 2016.
The full decision can be found here.