Draft Variation to the Territory Plan No.344: Woden Town Centre given the go ahead by planning committee
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Draft Variation to the Territory Plan No.344: Woden Town Centre given the go ahead by planning committee

When Carol Raut moved into Bellerive, a retirement village in Woden in 2013, she chose the location because of how the sun warmed the building in the mornings.

But Ms Raut said a proposal by developers Geocon for a high-rise mixed-use precinct development opposite the village would overshadow it. The development would be a marker building for Woden.

The Woden Town Centre.

The Woden Town Centre.Credit:Graham Tidy

In a new report on Woden, the Assembly's Standing Committee on Planning and Urban Renewal proposes restricting the height of marker buildings. Marker buildings are those that visually signify a town centre.

Ms Raut said residents were mainly concerned about the overshadowing and the scale of the development.

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Carol Raut moved into Bellerive, a retirement village in Woden in 2013 she chose the location because of how the sun warmed the building in the mornings.

Carol Raut moved into Bellerive, a retirement village in Woden in 2013 she chose the location because of how the sun warmed the building in the mornings. Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

"It won't enable us to access the sun from our solar panels because they won't be able to function correctly if there's no sun," she said.

"The morning sun in the apartment is really important in the winter climate."

The development, WOVA, would have four buildings, the highest being a 24-storey tower, built on the one-hectare site of the Woden Tradies Club, which closes its doors in January.

The committee's report on the Woden Territory Plan Variation recommended the overall changes proceed but raised a number of concerns.

Carol Raut resident of Bellerive and Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick are concerned about overshadowing.

Carol Raut resident of Bellerive and Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick are concerned about overshadowing. Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

The draft variation proposes to amend the Territory Plan by rezoning a number of areas, including parts of the open space area south of the Callam Offices, to permit community facilities and changing of a shared path along Athllon Drive and Swinger Hill from residential to urban open space.

It also proposed to amend the Phillip Precinct Code and Map, which included building heights up to 28 storeys for the centre, as well as selected sites where marker buildings will be permitted and solar access provision for buildings around Woden Town Square.

But the committee still had concerns and made 31 recommendations, which included:

  • limitations and conditions in relation to the proposed heights of buildings, including marker buildings;
  • controls on solar access and overshadowing, particularly in relation to Woden Town Square;
  • limitations on the use of proposed community facilities land;
  • the provision of more green space; and
  • the establishment of a Community Hub.

It also recommended more consultation between the ACT government and developers in the Woden Town Centre about making empty buildings safe.

Ms Raut said residents were not opposed to development but wanted to cap the heights of buildings to limit overshadowing.

The committee also found plans to change Arabanoo Park to community facilities zoned land were highly controversial because of the diminishing green space in Woden.

Plans to rezone parts of a Woden park should be scrapped or scaled back to prevent social housing being built on the site, it said.

The government copped flak for proposing public housing on community facilities zoned land in the south of Canberra earlier in the year.

The committee recommended if the rezoning did go ahead, the site only be used for a child care centre, community centre, community theatre, cultural facility, indoor recreation, outdoor recreation, or park.

The ACT Greens welcomed the report and said the committee had backed community calls for improvements to the area.

Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick also welcomed the report.

"We want to thank the standing committee for its recommendation to develop a long term plan for community and recreation facilities in the Woden Town Centre and look forward to working with the government, the developers and the community to achieve a great outcome for the residents of Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo," Ms Carrick said.

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The council appreciated that "a precedent has now been set for building heights and overshadowing of public amenity in each town centre".

- with Katie Burgess

Han Nguyen reports on property for The Canberra Times. She joined the Times in 2017 after working as a breaking news reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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