Geocon's expansion plan for $400m WOVA development knocked back

Geocon's bid to scale up its WOVA complex has been rejected amid renewed community opposition to the $400 million project.

An artist's impression of Geocon's Wova development in Woden, which was approved in September. The developer now wants to tweak the height of one of the complex's four buildings.  Photo: Supplied

An artist's impression of Geocon's Wova development in Woden, which was approved in September. The developer now wants to tweak the height of one of the complex's four buildings. Photo: Supplied

The local community council has welcomed the decision to reject the proposal, which it feared could have blocked sunlight to a neighbouring retirement village.

Geocon last year won approval for 24, 16, 13 and 12-storey buildings on the site, after an original proposal was scaled back after a resident backlash over its height and scale.

The authority granted the approval on September 28 on the condition a proposed 16-storey building fronting Melrose Drive was dropped back to 12 levels.

But on December 6, Geocon sought permission to raise that building back to 16 storeys, hoping to use a planning clause which allows the height of one of the site's towers to be raised an additional four levels.

The approved WOVA plan already included one 16-storey block, meaning Geocon were attempting to use the four-floor clause a second time.

The authority last week knocked backed the application, ruling Geocon had not provided it with information that could justify overruling its original decision to allow the building height increase.

Brett Phillips, the executive group manager at the government's environment, planning and sustainable development directorate, said Geocon's application had not "adequately addressed" concerns about the height and scale of a 16-storey tower at that location, which originally forced it to be scaled back.

Objections raised in public submissions also informed the authority's decision, Mr Phillips said.

The authority received 58 submissions during a feedback period, which was limited to the 109 residents and groups who responded to consultation on the first application.

Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick, pictured above, is pleased with the decision to reject Geocon's new plan for its WOVA complex.  Photo: Jamila Toderas

Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick, pictured above, is pleased with the decision to reject Geocon's new plan for its WOVA complex. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Concerns about overshadowing, the building's proposed height and design, it's potential to block sunlight to neighbouring properties and the consultation process were among 32 separate issues raised in the submissions.

The ACT Greens had publicly opposed the proposal amid concerns it would leave the area "feeling dark, cold and unsafe".

Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick was pleased the authority had blocked the proposed 16-storey tower, which she said would have blocked out morning sunlight to the adjacent Bellerive Retirement Village.

Ms Carrick said residents remained concerned about the size and scale of the wider WOVA development, which will squeeze 800 units, 1160 carparking spaces and 2650 square metres of retail space on to the one hectare site.

"It is very, very high-density and we would prefer something that was on a more human scale," Ms Carrick said.

Geocon - which declined to comment on Monday - has an option to appeal the authority's decision to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal within 28 days of the February 6 ruling.