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Tower above all

Canberra’s tallest residential building could be built in Belconnen town centre, months after a slightly shorter tower in Woden was put on the backburner.

 Taller than a football field and reaching 112 metres at its peak, the proposal by developer Geocon to build a 35-storey tower at Belconnen is still in the planning and design stage and will soon reach the community consultation phase.

The development consists of two towers, the second a shorter height at 80 metres.

 The towers on the corner of Eastern Valley Way and Aikman Drive will include 235 residential units and 168 hotel apartments, as well as retail, restaurant, commercial and bar facilities.

Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis, who has met with the Belconnen Community Council’s executive committee about the proposal, said he would also talk to the wider community about the design at a council meeting later this month, with plans to submit a development application following shortly after.

Although previous developments such as the 28-storey Woden 9 proposal were met with public backlash, Mr Georgalis said he was prepared to receive all types of feedback: “We weren’t out there trying to just get a positive response,” he said.


“We want to make sure we are getting everyone’s feedback and actually addressing it.”

Locals are invited to attend the meeting on February 19 to discuss the proposal, which Belconnen Community Council representative Robyn Coghlan described as “rather large”.

“I don’t think there’s anything like it anywhere [in Canberra],” she said.

“People need to be aware that it’s happening. Some people might say it’s fantastic, but it’s important that they know.”

Ms Coghlan, who emphasised that the council had no formed opinion on the proposal, said there were a number of issues that people usually associated with tall developments.

These issues include overshadowing, wind effects, increased traffic and the “likely population profile of residents which are associated with a range of accommodation types”.

The Woden 9 proposal was withdrawn “to be revised” late last year, with ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell stating that the plans were “not of a scale that was suitable or sympathetic for the town centre”.

The Land Development Agency is still working on the plans, but the ACT chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects holds serious concerns about the success of such urban intensification efforts.

The chair of the institute’s planning committee, Alan Morschel, said ‘‘nimby’’ attitudes were rife in the capital, but understanding about suburban sprawl was not.

“Neighbours, proponents and government have been involved in recurring confrontations over numerous lower-scale and medium-density residential redevelopment proposals for many years,” Mr Morschel  said.

“This trench warfare has no degree of certainty of outcome and definitely has a cost that is ultimately borne by the dwelling purchaser.

‘‘Housing affordability and long-term sustainable development are the victims of this process.”