Curtin says no to high rise development
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Curtin says no to high rise development

ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur will present a petition of about 1000 signatures to the Legislative Assembly after hundreds of protested gathered on Saturday to reject the proposal for a six-storey mixed-use building in Curtin Square.

Ms Le Couteur said the development was not compatible with the rules of the Curtin Group Centre Draft Master Plan.

Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur adresses protesters at Curtin Square.

Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur adresses protesters at Curtin Square. Credit:James Hall

The master plan states any building must be compatible with the desired character of the square, have appropriate scale and function of use, and minimise overshadowing and excessive scale - all of which Ms Le Couteur said was breached in the proposed development.

The redevelopment proposal put forward outlines the economic benefits for the community but Ms Le Couteur said it would only favour the developers.

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Greens MLA Caroline le Couteur addresses protesters at Curtin 
Square.

Greens MLA Caroline le Couteur addresses protesters at Curtin Square. Credit:James Hall

"The economic viability will be for the owners of this place only," she said. "It's not for the shopping centre as a whole and particularly not for the current tenants and arguably not even for the other tenants.

"If the square is overshadowed all the time then the other shops are going to suffer."

According to the development application, the $13.6 million development would replace the 50-year-old block of shops which is home to five retail tenants and residents are concerned the proposed building is too big for the square.

The new site will include three basement levels, a ground floor retail level and five residential levels with 50 units.

Residents from Curtin and surrounding suburbs were worried the development would dramatically alter the square's charm.

The passion of the protest was punctuated by nearly a dozen residents who took to the microphone to express their displeasure.

While the Curtin master plan has not yet been finalised, the 2015 draft master plan limits building heights to two storeys around the square.

The southern end of 44 Curtin Place is set back from the square and subject to a four-storey height limit under the plan.

Curtin Residents Association secretary Chris Johnson said Saturday's turnout was evidence the high rise building proposal should be replaced by a plan to improve the square's existing qualities.

"It's clear that there is a groundswell of opinion from right around Canberra which says that the people's voice should be heard, the community should be heard," Mr Johnson said.

"The idea that we have a master plan that says two-storeys around shopping centres is supported by the community and it shouldn't be pushed aside."

The residential units will be retained by owners, the Haridemos family, for rental accommodation.

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The Haridemos family have owned the site since it was developed in 1964 and Nick Haridemos said the proposed changes would modernise the centre and "bring it into this century".

"The existing building on the site is at the end of its useful life and the owners wish to replace the current building with a new, vibrant mixed-use development," the development application said.

James is a reporter for The Canberra Times and Chronicle

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