A bitterly disappointed Village Building Company has gone straight to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal in a bid to get its $140 million Weston development moving again after the shock knockback of the project.
It has challenged the ACT Planning and Land Authority’s decision in ACAT and the matter is listed for a directions hearing on Friday (3 April).
The planning authority rejected the company’s estate development plan for the old Australian Federal Police site last month in a Notice of Decision that panned the project for its ‘monoculture’ of small blocks, uniformity and lack of access to sunshine.
The EDP included a mix of 261 freestanding and two, three and four bedroom townhouses, and three linear parks instead of one central park.
The decision shocked not only Village but the Weston Creek Community Council, which was heavily involved in the rounds of community consultation the company conducted.
Village took the feedback on board, dropping an apartment block, reconfiguring open space and redesigning the road network.
Along the way, the company was also heavily engaged with ACTPLA to achieve a good outcome for the project.
So when the decision came down, the company was set back on its heels.
CEO Travis Doherty said the company had been really disappointed and surprised to have the project refused, believing it had dealt with any issues that had been raised.
”We’ve worked really diligently with the community and responded to feedback, and with government agencies,” he said. “We are where we are, and we’ll continue to do the right thing.
“We’ve got a project there that the market is just screaming out for, architecturally designed townhouses, and that’s what we’re going to be delivering, and we just want to get on with it.”
Weston Creek Community Council chair Tom Anderson said the council was ”absolutely surprised” at the project’s rejection.
“We understood there had been a lot of discussion between the company and ACTPLA and thought it was an agreed outcome,” he said.
”It took a long time before they were even in a position to lodge the estate development plan,” Mr Anderson said.
“I know they did say that they would be the guinea pigs because this was the first estate plan under the new rules, so there was lot of learning within government and industry.”
The council has applied to be a party to the proceedings so it can ”have input and be at the table”.
Village plans to develop the site in three stages, the first being nine residential blocks fronting Unwin Street.
Stage 2 will cover the western part of the estate, including the access point with Unwin Street, while Stage 3 will entail the rest of the site, including the proposed access with Heysen Street.
Village paid more than $30 million for the site in a competitive tender in 2017.