Costigan / Residents win breakthrough on Dickson shops impasse

Dickson shops. Photo by Paul Costigan

HERE’S some good news. Are you ready for this? There has been positive progress on the proposal to have a new supermarket and residential complex built on the car park site next to Woolworths in Dickson.

This has been going on for too many years. It started badly with the sale of land (the car park), followed by a development application that should not have been considered, loads of objections submitted, some slight adjustments, and then an approval by the ACT government planners that shocked locals.

Paul Costigan.

The owners of the building occupied by Woolworths, in partnership with locals, then lodged an appeal that, given the enormous number of faults to the development application, was a win for the residents. The developers then turned up the heat by taking it all to the Supreme Court.
Thankfully, some wise locals got together and managed to have direct mediation sessions with Coles about a better way forward. This constructive approach is proving to be successful.

At the North Canberra Community Council meeting on Wednesday night (September 19), Jane Goffman and Ron Brent presented the case that residents agree to some new design features that Coles proposed would significantly alter how their development could link better with the present shopping precinct. The differences between the former and new concepts were stark – it was such an improvement.

Importantly, the new design as proposed no longer intrudes on to the heritage site that is the Dickson Library. The building is set back and will no longer block out the sunlight from the area in front of the library. There was even a realistic new approach to some of the landscape design around the building.

The new concepts did not cover everything – but it signalled some good faith by Coles to get this new complex back on the rails.

The meeting agreed to the design changes as being the basis of a new development application that may now be drawn up and submitted by Coles most likely late this year.

This is good news and a relief for residents who all along have stated that they were not against a new supermarket complex, but just not the big monster that was originally pushed through the planning processes.
This welcomed progress also points to the major faults with the present planning bureaucratic processes and the continuing negative attitude of the government towards working with residents. Things did not have to be like that.

Now with this agreement in place, we await the next moves by Coles and hopefully some good design work in a new development application.

As for section 72 – the Parklands site – that’s a completely different story. But let’s not spoil the good news for this week. More on that sorry tale later.

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