The owners of the Canberra Centre have submitted revised plans for an expansion on their Cooyong Street car park but have rejected criticism from the National Capital Design Review panel around the site's linkages with Cooyong Street and Braddon.
Queensland Investment Corporation has submitted an amended development application to the ACT Planning Authority that is scaled back from its 2017 approved application.
The development would comprise five buildings of up to 13 storeys. There would be 200 hotel rooms, 120 serviced apartments, more than 43,000 square metres of office space and 5450 square metres of retail and commercial space.
The key change between the amended application and the 2017 approved development is the removal of 250 residential apartments.
As well, car parking spaces have also dropped from 1118 to 713 and the amount of retail and commercial space has more than halved.
According to the development application, the rationale behind the change was due to a slip in demand for "big box" retail stores.
There would also be a new retail piazza on the ground floor, adjacent to Narellan Street. It would have a translucent roof and would be the focal point for retail in the precinct, application papers said.
This could lead to the possible development of a "food street" that would link the Canberra Centre and Narellan Street but this would be subject to a separate application.
QIC Global Real Estate managing director Michael O'Brien said the development was a part of its long-term masterplan for the Canberra Centre.
"The Canberra CBD continues to evolve as the needs and aspirations of our city and its people change to reflect its status as a globally relevant modern destination," he said.
"Our goal is to deliver a mixed-use development which keeps pace with these changing needs by creating a convenient and accessible precinct that is enlivened both day and night and befits the energy and vibrancy of the city.
"As a responsible development manager who considers the next 30 years, not just the next five, we have actively responded to these changing market conditions via the development amendment."
QIC's plans were scrutinised by the National Capital Design Review panel, which presented concerns around the site's connection with Cooyong Street.
Among the comments by the panel, it said the development presented an "impermeable street wall" to Cooyong Street. As well, the panel said it considers the elevation to Cooyong Street did not respond to the surrounding context.
But QIC "strenuously" rejected claims the development was a pedestrian barrier, in application papers. It said the frontage would be about 70 per cent active with five separate entries.
The scale of the development was also criticised by the panel, which encouraged QIC to reduce the scale of the development by creating two or three individual blocks separated by pedestrian streets and laneways.
QIC also hit back saying the application was already approved and this was just an amendment.
This is QIC's fourth iteration of the development to go before the authority in nine years. In 2011, a mixed-use development was approved for a nine-storey office tower, 300 residential apartments and 12,600 square metres of retail space.
Mr O'Brien said it was too early to provide specific detail around the time frame for the development.
The section 96 site was sold to QIC by the ACT government in 2001, along with four other sites that have all been developed.
This included a development of the headquarters of the Australian Tax Office. The ATO is currently looking for a new Canberra office.