Residents have labelled the government's use of call-in powers to push through the construction of a community hub in Flynn heavy handed and an abuse of powers.
Work on the second stage of a community facility on the old site of the former Flynn Primary School was called in by Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Simon Corbell on Friday.
The decision gives a green light to the project, which is designed to house local community groups and organisations, and ends a saga running since the school closed in 2006.
The building is expected to initially house Marymead and the Belconnen Community Service.
But Flynn spokesman Roger Nicoll, who works with the Flynn Neighbourhood Watch, the Flynn Primary P&C Association and the John Flynn Community Group, has criticised the minister's use of the powers.
Mr Nicoll said call-in powers were designed to be used for very significant developments and major policy issues.
"We're seeing call-in powers being used where the government doesn't want to address concerns that the community has raised," Mr Nicoll said.
Mr Corbell rejected that claim, saying the powers were used on the grounds of substantial public interest.
Mr Nicoll is supportive of the development, but wants to ensure the site's community courtyards, artwork completed by Flynn students, and the community resource centre are all protected.
"We are shocked but not surprised at this coming right a couple of days before Christmas," Mr Nicoll said.
Mr Corbell said conditions had been attached to the decision to deal with each of those concerns.
He said the artworks would be kept where possible, or would otherwise be documented and removed, to help make the centre disability accessible.
"There'll be a substantial public benefit from seeing this project go ahead in a timely manner," Mr Corbell said.
"The re-use of the former Flynn Primary School is very important for the local community, because it deals with issues such as preventing the building becoming derelict."