Planning Minister Mick Gentleman ignored the advice of the City Renewal Authority when he used call-in powers to approve the Dickson Coles development proposal.
But the authority remained confident it contributed to improved design outcomes in the city renewal precinct and acknowledged planning authority decisions were based on a range of information.
The City Renewal Authority did not support the development in its current form, finding the proposed "built form and scale of the apartment component to be inconsistent with the intended scale and grain of the Dickson group centre and adjacent suburban neighbourhood".
The authority said the plans for a "monotonous" facade along Antill Street should be reconsidered to prevent "poor visual outcomes for this prominent location".
"Use of a more nuanced palette of high quality materials and finishes which respond to Dickson's vibrant, multicultural character is encouraged, as well as greater three-dimensional articulation of the building form," the authority's advice said.
The authority also recommended the configuration of the apartments in the development be reviewed to improve residential amenity.
"This may result in a reduction in the total number of apartments," the authority said in its advice.
The authority said shadow diagrams appeared to show the development did not meet solar access requirements and was concerned by the lack of deep soil tree planting zones.
In the notice of decision, Mr Gentleman said he was satisfied the authority's advice did not warrant a refusal of the development application.
The authority did not oppose development on the site outright but made a series of recommendations to improve the outcome, a spokesman for the authority said.
Mr Gentleman said he "carefully considered" the advice he received from government agencies in assessing the decision.
"My role was to make a balanced decision that delivers the best possible planning outcome in accordance with the Territory Plan. Residents in the inner north have been calling for a new supermarket and better open spaces in Dickson centre for many years and my decision has been broadly welcomed by the community," he said.
Mr Gentleman said a response from Turner Architects, which designed the precinct, provided appropriate responses to issues raised by the authority.
City Renewal Authority acting chief executive Craig Gillman said the authority was confident input from the authority was carefully considered by planning decision makers.
"As we strive for design excellence within the precinct we understand there are times when our views will be just one component amongst a broader body of views from other key stakeholders for the planning authority's consideration," he said.
Conservator of Flora and Fauna Ian Walker recommended against allowing trees to be removed from the site, but Mr Gentlemen said removing some trees was appropriate under planning laws.
No registered trees were approved for removal, and the developer will need to protect and maintain trees around the site.
"I've required the applicant to plan replacement trees and to establish green walls on the site. The approved plans include the planting of 26 trees on the ground level, 22 trees on the podium level and a significant number of shrubs and other plants as part of the landscaping plan," Mr Gentleman said.
Mr Gentleman's decision on Thursday ended the supermarket giant's five-year battle to develop the Dickson site.
Coles lodged plans in 2014 for two supermarkets and 155 apartments on the site, but scaled back after opposition from residents.
The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2018 overturned the planning authority's 2016 decision to approve a revised plan. Coles challenged that ruling in the Supreme Court, before the matter was adjourned to allow a new development application.
Coles lodged that application in late December 2018 for a mixed-used development, including 140 apartments, a supermarket, 4900 square-metres of retail space and 472 basement level car parks.