The ACT government is pushing to reverse a planning decision which reduced the size of supermarkets allowed at local shops, and has contributed to issues at Coombs and Giralang centres.
Two years since the Coombs shopping centre opened, it has only ever had one tenant.
Molonglo residents are looking to a Legislative Assembly inquiry which began last month into the Giralang shopping centre.
Work on the Belconnen project stalled and the developer Nikias Diamond has failed to secure a major supermarket tenant.
A change to planning laws in 2015 reduced the size of shops permitted on CZ4 land to 1000 square-metres, while it remained at a maximum of 1500 square-metres for stores on CZ5 land.
The government said at the time it was to "prioritise independent supermarket owners in smaller shopping precincts."
Planning Minister Mick Gentleman said work was underway on a Territory Plan Variation to reverse this decision.
He has been "frustrated" by the Coombs shopping centre developer's inability or unwillingness to tenant the stores.
The government looked to buy back the land, which was recommended in a report last year, but Mr Gentleman said it was priced "significantly higher" than market value.
Developer Renato Cervo bought the Coombs land in 2015 for $2.7 million.
Residents had voiced frustration at delays in the centre but Mr Cervo secured one tenant, an Indian grocer, before April 2019 which removed any legal repercussions of not delivering the project on time.
Two years later, the grocer remains the sole tenant.
Mr Cervo declined to comment.
It is hoped the rule reversal will prevent the same issues arising again, but won't help the already constructed Coombs Centre.
Opposite the site, a mixed-use development dubbed 'Koko Molonglo' has been approved, and is allowed a supermarket up to 1500 square-metres. A Woolworths metro and second player are slated for that site.
Molonglo Community Forum spokesman Ryan Hemsley said the group was continuing to discuss the issue with Mr Cervo but an outcome hadn't been reached.
"The Coombs shops was our great hope for a supermarket," he said.
Coombs residents currently need to travel to supermarkets in Weston or Denman Prospect.
Weston Creek Community Council chair Tom Anderson said the Coombs shops had been an "absolute disaster" for everyone involved.
"The people who live out there, the government in a way, they learned lessons from this. They didn't get it right," he said.
"There doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel to get the shops open for the people of Coombs and Wright."
Molonglo forum spokeswoman Monique Brouwer said residents wanted solutions and remained hopeful all options hadn't been exhausted.
"We want to know what is the way forward here?" she said.
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