Long wait for Giralang shops almost over after minister approves plan
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Long wait for Giralang shops almost over after minister approves plan

The 13-year wait for a shopping centre in Giralang is almost over after Planning Minister Mick Gentleman fast-tracked and approved a four-storey, mixed-use development using special powers.

Giralang Properties has been granted approval for a development that includes a 1000 square-metre supermarket and other shops or community spaces on the ground floor, along with 50 residential units on the top three floors.

A 3D artist's impression of the Giralang shops redevelopment, which includes a supermarket and 50 residential apartments.

A 3D artist's impression of the Giralang shops redevelopment, which includes a supermarket and 50 residential apartments.

The old Giralang shops closed in 2005, with the site subject to four failed redevelopment bids since then. One proposal was approved in 2011, but later halted by High Court challenges from three surrounding supermarkets, and eventually scrapped.

Giralang Properties director Dimitri Nikias said construction was now likely to start in October, with the goal of having the supermarket open by the fourth quarter of 2019.

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It is not yet known which company will operate the supermarket.

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Mr Nikias said he hoped the residential units would be ready about a month after the supermarket opened.

"This is going to become the heart of the community," said Mr Nikias, who also runs construction company Nikias Diamond.

"It will help people provide space for community gatherings, create new job opportunities and become a place where people want to spend time.

"... Finally, the Giralang community will regain the active and vibrant community and retail precinct that it has long missed and sorely deserves."

Mr Gentleman said he had used his discretionary powers as planning minister to "call in" and approve the development application, with conditions, because he wanted to put an end to a long and frustrating saga for the people of Giralang.

He said the development would bring a new dynamic to the suburb and create a greater variety of shopping and housing options for residents.

“I have used my call-in powers in this instance because I consider the proposal will provide a substantial public benefit, particularly to the community of Giralang and surrounding suburbs with delivery of a long overdue local centre," Mr Gentleman said.

Conditions imposed upon the project include requirements for additional accessible parking spaces, improved pedestrian links, additional bicycle parking, protection of existing trees, verge management and temporary traffic management.

The development plans incorporate a number of off-site works, including the reconfiguration of the nearby Giralang Primary School car park, the creation of new parking spaces on Menkar Close and a new footpath.

Giralang Residents Action Group members Bill Burmester and Ross and Olga Calvert, at the site of the old Giralang shops in April.

Giralang Residents Action Group members Bill Burmester and Ross and Olga Calvert, at the site of the old Giralang shops in April.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Giralang Residents Action Group chairman Bill Burmester said he was relieved that an end to the 13-year wait for local shops was almost in sight.

"It's still rather bewildering that it's taken nearly 15 years to get a set of shops in one suburb, but we supported the application made by the developer and we're thrilled that we finally got there," Mr Burmester said.

"Hopefully there'll be no more litigation and the project can go ahead, because the community certainly wants it.

"The fact that the minister has called it in should hopefully send a strong message."

The Planning and Development Act 2007 says that when a minister uses their call-in powers to consider and approve a development application, the decision cannot be reviewed by a third party in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Blake Foden is a reporter at the Sunday Canberra Times. He has worked as a journalist in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

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