Keep farmers market option open for Woden Town Centre, developers tell inquiry
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Keep farmers market option open for Woden Town Centre, developers tell inquiry

The owners of two dilapidated public service buildings in Woden have urged an inquiry to keep open the option of a weekend farmers market in the town centre.

A Legislative Assembly inquiry into a new draft master plan for Woden Town Centre on Tuesday heard from a raft of witnesses concerned about how best to reinvigorate the ailing town centre.

The vacant Alexander and Albermarle buildings look worse for wear in Woden.

The vacant Alexander and Albermarle buildings look worse for wear in Woden.Credit:Jay Cronan

While the Woden Valley Community Council remains concerned about continued closure of community facilities and a lack of amenities, a number of developers were worried about inconsistencies between the draft plan and the current one.

Local developer, Doma Group, owns two blocks the firm hopes to redevelop, on which stand the Alexander and Albermarle buildings, abandoned former public service offices that have been described as 'eyesores'.

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Jure Domazet, director of the Doma Group, has urged an inquiry to keep open the option of a farmers market in Woden.

Jure Domazet, director of the Doma Group, has urged an inquiry to keep open the option of a farmers market in Woden.Credit:Graham Tidy

The two blocks, 50 and 52 section 8 Phillip, run along Furzer Street; while a third government-owned block, block 77 section 8 Phillip, known as North Walk, runs parallel to Furzer Street behind the blocks.

Knight Frank's Aaron Oshyer, speaking for the company, told the inquiry the current plan had allowed for a "produce market" to be run on the government-owned block, but the draft variation to the plan did not include that use.

He said the use of the land, and allowing a similar use on the Doma Group-owned blocks, was needed in the new precinct code to keep the option open to allow potential weekend markets as it could help enliven the area.

Doma Group managing director Jure Domazet told The Canberra Times that while the company had not yet decided what it would do with its blocks, allowing a farmers market on the North Walk would help make the whole area more attractive.

"We saw a farmers market on North walk as a potential weekend activation that would sit well in the town centre," he said.

"It would have abundant parking on weekends and provide a pedestrian spine through the [inactive] town square leading into the Westfield."

Mr Domazet said the company believed the idea had merit, and while there were no plans to create a farmer's market, they didn't want it to be shut down by not being included in the plan.

Mr Oshyer also argued the wording in the draft plan around setbacks read that all buildings needed to be "consistent" with the plan, and it should instead read "compatible", to allow broader consideration for developments on merit.

Woden Community Council president Fiona Carrick also reiterated the council's concerns about the loss of public, low cost amenities in the town centre, from sports facilities to arts and higher education centres.

Ms Carrick said the council was also worried about new proposed 28 storey height limits next to the town square, which could lead to the square being overshadowed.

She said she had heard Chief Minister Andrew Barr say he would not allow such high buildings immediately next to Garema Place in the city, but would allow them further away to prevent such problems.

"If that makes sense for Garema Place, why doesn't it make sense for our town centre?," she said.

The inquiry continues.

Daniel Burdon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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