Canberra property giant Geocon has scaled back its controversial plans for an eight-storey apartment building near the Kingston shops, and will instead propose a four-storey office building.
The original plans for the site, behind the post office on Giles Street, attracted an unusual level of political attention, with both Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Greens leader Shane Rattenbury criticising the designs.
The plans, released a year ago, showed a building of 106 apartments, which critics said did not fit with the character of the area.
Geocon's ambition was to build "consistently and sympathetically with the surrounding buildings in Kingston", Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis said at the time.
"We'd like to renew and rejuvenate old Kingston with consideration of the rest of the area," Mr Georgalis said.
Mr Georgalis told The Canberra Times in a statement on Thursday his company was pleased to take the next steps to developing the site into "much-needed commercial spaces for businesses operating in Canberra's inner south".
"The premium office market in Canberra is booming and Geocon's Giles Street development will deliver much-needed commercial space to that market," he said.
Consultants for the developer said the new proposal had responded to the community, which had expressed concern over the scale of the original designs.
"Feedback was received from several respondents that a four-storey building would be more appropriate and in keeping with the desired character of Kingston. This design also reflects the height limit recommendations for the site from the 2011 Kingston Group Centre Master Plan," Geocon's consultants said.
But the change also comes after Mr Barr said in the lead-up to last year's territory election the Labor government would consider "available options" to oppose a development that did not comply with the territory plan.
Planning rules stipulate a two-storey height limit in the area where Geocon is seeking to build, but the limit can be exceeded if a development fits within a "desired character" for the suburb.
The new plans, presented as part of pre-development application community consultation, were designed by Turco & Associates architects and DSB Landscape Architects.
Purdon Planning, which has run the community consultation for the site, said on its website the development would provide more diverse employment through the Kingston group centre.
"The design will contribute positively to the surrounding streetscape and provide a sympathetic architectural form through the use of stripped classical inspired massing but deliver a truly modern building design through the incorporation of suitable fenestration and articulation using high quality materials and finishes," the consultancy said.
Kingston and Barton Residents Group acting president Richard Johnston said the updated plans were positive, but the proposal would still need careful consideration.
"We need to bear in mind that the building height rule is actually two stories, so it needs to be carefully evaluated in terms of the impact on the neighbours particularly. So I wouldn't say it's an open and shut case, but it's certainly a move in the right direction," Mr Johnston said.
Purdon Planning will hold a virtual consultation session on Tuesday, July 27.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: