The Curtin Place Development

The application to redevelop the shops at 41 Curtin Place was lodged with the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate in December 2016 – and has been rejected by the ACT Planning and Land Authority.

The deadline to make comments or objections was 31 January. The ACT Planning and Land Authority decision was announced on 17 February.

The ACTPLA media release short notice of the rejection is here.

A longer detailed explanation of the decision section by section is here – the Notice of Decision.

 

 

In brief, we suggested the following arguments against the proposal.

(or look here for the  complete CRA submission )

Community space Curtin Square must be preserved as a vibrant and vital community space. With 2 schools, 2 preschools, 2 day-care centres, 2 aged-care facilities and 3 churches close by, and a diverse range of shops, cafés and other small businesses, Curtin Square is a vital community space, used throughout the day by a wide variety of people of all ages. After-school use by children and their carers is particularly noteworthy. The square’s unique character and identity must be preserved by any development on or adjacent to the square. The human scale of the square, good solar access and large deciduous trees in the square are all essential components of its character and identity.

Size The building is much too big for the square. The proposed 6-storey tower is more than 24 m high, equivalent to an 8-storey building. This is totally out of proportion to the one-storey buildings currently in Curtin Square and the small size of the square itself. The developer gives no justification or modelling of commercial viability for totally rejecting the Draft Curtin Master Plan, which limits buildings on the square to 2 storeys with a minimum setback of 3 metres above the first floor.

Shadow The proposed tower will greatly reduce sunlight in the square from early afternoon onwards in autumn, winter and spring. In autumn and spring, most of the courtyard is in shadow by 3 pm and it’s completely in shadow by 4 pm—times when the square is used extensively by children and their carers going to and from schools via shops and cafés. The solar access study does not cover the full year. It also ignores the effects of planter boxes and 4 m high trees on the first-floor garden overlooking the square. A light-filled central courtyard is critical to the role the square plays as a community space and the attraction of Curtin for shopping, cafés and as a meeting and gathering place. So, existing solar access in the courtyard must be preserved.

Wind The proposed 24 m high tower will disrupt prevailing wind patterns and create wind tunnels between it and adjacent buildings. The consultants have only made a visual inspection of possible wind effects at the site. No wind measurements or modelling have been have done. They state that any recommendations are made only ‘in-principle’. Wind patterns will be equivalent to that produced by a 19 m building. There is no estimate of the consequent reduction in public comfort and safety at all.

Parking The proposal is misleading and states there is excess parking in the Curtin precinct. The parking study is very limited and uses dubious accounting of restaurants to support the developer’s claims. Despite the residents’ parking spaces in 3 basement levels, residents and their visitors will overflow into public parking spaces. The developer plans to move disabled parking away from its current location near the medical centre, which would compromise safety and ease of access to the medical centre.

Traffic The proposal is misleading. Traffic in McCulloch Street is ignored. Data from 2011 for Carruthers and Strangways streets is used for the traffic study, which states that nothing has changed in the last 5 years. It ignores the impact on residents of people and cars from new suburbs such as Wright and Coombs using or driving through Curtin, and increased traffic from Deakin through Curtin via McCulloch Street to Cotter Road. The development will make traffic problems worse.

Genuine community consultation The proposed development is critical to the future of Curtin Square and the Curtin Group Centre so there must be genuine community consultation, independent of the developer. Community consultation for the Master Plan for the Curtin Group Centre, and work by residents with successive ACT governments on previous redevelopments, show that most Curtin residents support appropriate development. The ACT Government should respect Curtin residents by working with them to finalise the Master Plan and carry out any revisions to the Curtin Precinct Code before considering this development application.