An independent report into Molonglo's planning and development has recommended the Coombs centre be retrofitted but has suggested the centre may need to be bought back.
Future development in Molonglo Valley needed to provide for an increased range and density of community facilities, the report also recommended. But it said neither of these would be easy to implement.
The report was tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday by Planning Minister Mick Gentleman. It was commissioned in October last year after the ACT Legislative Assembly agreed to a motion for an independent inquiry, from Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur.
It was due to be tabled in the assembly by May 31 but it ran late. Mr Gentleman said the coronavirus pandemic held up the report.
Consultant firm Arup undertook the review and looked at plans related to development at Molonglo Valley such as concept plans and estate management plans as well as a review of media articles and real estate websites.
Site visits and focus groups with representatives from the ACT government were also conducted.
The report focused on Molonglo Valley's sustainability. It set out to see if 'excellence in sustainable design' had been achieved through development in the region.
Arup developed a framework with 32 criteria. Of those it determined Molonglo Valley had not achieved nine of the criteria. Nine criteria had been achieved and 14 had been partially achieved.
It found future development in Molonglo Valley should consider the effects of climate change, there should be more opportunities to support local employment and there needed to be additional community facilities to allow for walkable access to amenities.
But the most notable recommendation was an alternative leasing structure needed to be considered for the Coombs shopping centre, which has only one tenant.
"Consider rethinking the design and function of the existing Coombs centre and potentially reworking the development to enable activation and greater urban amenity," the recommendation said.
"An alternative leasing structure for the Coombs shopping centre could be explored, although asset ownership may inhibit this and require buyback."
Another recommendation was that community facilities should also be in locations that complement higher urban housing densities.
In tabling the report, Mr Gentleman said the ACT government had felt more had been achieved in the Molonglo Valley than Arup.
He said the consultant firm did not differentiate between project delivery and planning, meaning that a project planned but not yet delivered was considered not yet achieved.
"The government's examination of these items indicates that more is achieved than Arup's review. This is largely due to the government considering planning and delivery has different levels of achievement that Arup has not done," he said.
"A number of these recommendations are already being considered and incorporated in future development."
Mr Gentleman pointed to the planned provision of community facilities in Molonglo Valley as an example of this.
Ms Le Couteur welcomed the release of the report but told the assembly it was unfortunate people in the community had not been consulted as part of the review.