Village Building Company has lodged its new development application for the former AFP site in Weston, promising a residential precinct that blends in with the existing neighbourhood, retains trees and offers ample green space.
The DA is Village’s second attempt at developing the site it bought in 2017 for more than $30 million, with the first thrown out by the planning authority and then later at the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal for proposing a ‘monoculture’ of small blocks with a lack of access to sunshine, and the removal of dozens of established trees.
The company took on board the criticism, found a new architect and project manager, and came up with a precinct that may have more dwellings overall but is configured to allow more open space and trees to be retained and planted.
The $140 million project, designed by Stewart Architecture, proposes 337 dwellings across 26 buildings, including a mix of three-storey apartments and two-storey townhouses with basement and undercroft parking spread over the site and set amid parks, pathways and treed driveways.
The plans show three-storey apartment buildings fronting Streeton Drive, but there are also more apartments further in, including a boutique offering at the rear near Heysen Street and 121 townhouses across the site.
The DA proposes the construction of 11 three-storey apartment buildings, including five walk-up apartment buildings, providing 216 dwellings and 15 two-storey townhouse buildings.
Village Building CEO Vince Whiteside said the company had worked hard to address the concerns raised previously by the government and local community, including a greater mix of dwelling and building typologies and better solar access for living areas and private open space.
“The introduction of apartments, whilst increasing the yield from 260 to 337 dwellings, results in a smaller footprint with the building coverage in the revised plan covering less than a third of the available area. This allows for a greater amount of usable green space,” he said.
Mr Whiteside said the development embraced the natural slopes and shapes of the site, allowing the retainment of many established trees.
The proposal would also include planting more than 400 new trees and feature six landscaped pocket parks and enhanced streetscapes through additional planting.
“It truly is in a magnificent position, centrally located in a beautiful established suburb with nearby schools, retail and parklands,” Mr Whiteside said.
“Our development seeks to blend into and reflect the character of the surrounding suburb.”
Sustainability will also be a feature of the development, incorporating solar panels into dwelling designs, electric vehicle charging stations and reusing stormwater to irrigate the landscapes and parklands.
There will also be better site access, including two new driveway crossovers to Heysen Street, the removal of one driveway crossing on Unwin Street and more visitor parking.
Vehicle access will be from Heysen Street and Unwin Street with an additional secondary driveway on the east of the block on Heysen Street.
Driveway access to individual dwellings will be from an internal road network, with no garages facing the street.
A total of 58 parking spaces for visitors are proposed throughout the site in addition to 39 on-street spaces, 31 of which are existing spaces located on Unwin Street.
The development will generate more traffic, but the government plans to install traffic lights at the intersection of Heysen Street and Streeton Drive to manage the situation.
Village plans to develop the site in five stages, the sequencing of which is still being worked out.
Development manager David Carey said the company hoped to release the first stage to market about October.
He said Village had been focused on addressing community concerns and ensuring a sound development but would now start raising the project’s profile.
“In the next week or two, we’ll start to feature some site hoarding and billboards for people to register their interest,” Mr Carey said.
Village has said the project would be pitched mainly at downsizers and live-in owners, including young families, with most of the dwellings having two to three bedrooms.
Weston Creek Community Council chair Bill Gemmell said the council generally welcomed the DA and positive progress with what is currently an eyesore on the entrance to Weston Creek.
“This will provide the ‘missing middle’ housing option for people wanting to live in Weston Creek,” Mr Gemmell said.
He said there were concerns about the impacts of such a large development on the local neighbourhoods and the council will be calling on the ACT Government to ensure that should the development be approved, all construction activity is conducted under a well-considered site management plan.
“I have already raised this concern with Village and do not want to be hearing from residents about dangerous or anti-social construction practices,” he said.
“The ACT Government must ensure the local infrastructure is up to the task. For example, the already busy intersection where Heysen Street joins Streeton Drive needs urgent attention.”
The DA is open to comments until 20 May.