The Canberra Raiders' proposed $80 million redevelopment project in Braddon is one step closer to reality after the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal blocked a challenge to the removal of concessional status of the land's lease on Monday.
A year after the Braddon Club was closed, the North Canberra Community Council had sought to stop the club's redevelopment plan for the site, set to include a mixed residential-commercial project consisting of 160 units, shops, restaurants and offices.
The ACT Planning and Land Authority and the Raiders challenged the community council's legal standing to appeal the lease change decision in September and October last year, and sought orders to have the appeal dismissed.
The council was found to have appropriate standing in January and in a decision handed down on Monday, the tribunal found there were no reasons to refuse the deconcessionalisation of the land's Crown lease.
Representatives of the council had argued against the redevelopment of the 8200 square metre site, which it said should be retained for community recreational uses needed by residents of the area.
ACAT general president Linda Crebbin and senior member Donald McMichael recognised there could be further matters to be considered when the application to vary the lease purpose clause was made, and again at the time of assessment for a redevelopment proposal.
"The tribunal considers that the process set out in the legislation for deconcessionalisation of a Crown lease may not be working as well as was intended," the decision said.
It said applications for deconcessionalisation could be refused in the public interest from time to time but the relevant regulations existed to "ensure that concessional leases do not have their status removed without careful consideration at ministerial level".
"[In] this case we are satisfied that the deconcessionalisation of this lease will not, in itself, disadvantage the community especially as the Braddon Club has been closed for about one year."
The tribunal also found there was no substance to the suggestion of any breach of the ACT Public Service Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics in the handling of the case.
North Canberra Community Council chair Mike Hettinger said he was disappointed by the decision but a committee would review the situation in coming days before determining any further steps.
Canberra District Rugby League Football Club chief executive Simon Hawkins said the process needed to run its course and the consideration of a development application for the former club building on the southern corner of the block was likely to proceed now that ACAT had issued its decision.
In a statement responding to the decision, Planning Minister Mick Gentleman said it was important all development applications were dealt with through an independent process.
"I am pleased to see that the decision in the case of the Braddon Club site was deemed appropriate and upheld by ACAT today," he said.
"As with all processes and procedures, ACTPLA will take on board any commentary from the tribunal to continue to improve its processes and procedures."
Poker machines were moved from the unprofitable Braddon Club, at the junction of Donaldson, Cooyong and Torrens streets, to the club's Gungahlin venue in June last year.
The Raiders' said the club had not been profitable since it was taken over in 2005.