ACT government set to redevelop Dickson land for more apartments
31 July 2015 Meredith Clisby
The ACT government will pave the way for residential development of vacant land next to the Dickson Shops but has cut initial plans opposed by the community for the site.
The government will soon issue a territory plan variation to rezone the former Salvation Army base and the vacant Downer Club/Observatory site in Section 72 Dickson.
It plans to release dwellings at the location in the 2017-18 financial year.
The government had planned to rezone the entire site to allow high density residential development of about 850 dwellings but this was met with strong community opposition.
The economic development directorate now proposes to rezone just the two vacant blocks within Section 72 and estimates a yield of up to 200 dwellings.
It will also limit building heights to two and three stories.
Economic Development land policy and strategy deputy director Simon Tennent said adding residential uses to the site would revitalise the dilapidated area.
"We think a better use for the site is to have that ownership or residential tenure to better activate the site, to have permanent residents there," he said.
"We wouldn't be looking to get any more height out of what's already there."
Mr Tennent said there was an opportunity for about 12 to 30 of the dwellings to be new public housing properties under the renewal program and in addition affordable housing could be included.
Section 72 Dickson was originally part of the ACT government's draft omnibus territory plan issued mid last year, which included 16 other sites.
It was removed from the joint variation along with more controversial sites such as the notorious public housing developments in Red Hill, Griffith and Narrabundah.
The ACT government is now preparing to lodge a territory plan variation for just the two blocks located within the Dickson land between Cowper Street and the playing fields.
The two blocks – the former Salvation Army and observatory sites – will be rezoned to add residential uses.
The entire Section 72 parcel is currently commercially zoned for leisure and accommodation use.
The proposed territory plan variation will not change existing development controls at the site and existing facilities will not be affected.
This includes the Dickson pool, Northside Community Service Centre, the Jehovah's Witnesses Hall and the Majura tennis club.
The block of land next to the pool slated last year for use as a temporary car park is also not part of the current rezoning plan.
Economic Development policy, projects and legislation executive director Louise Gilding said the government had no plans for the site and it was still caught up in the Coles/Doma Group mixed-use development proposal for the Dickson centre.
A different location for the temporary car park had been proposed before the ACT Planning and Land Authority rejected the development application for the mixed-use project earlier this year.
A Coles spokeswoman has confirmed the company and joint venture partner Doma did not appeal the planning authority's decision to reject the proposal.
The ACT government will send an information flyer to nearby residents on Monday informing them of the next steps and the start of the formal consultation process for the two blocks in Section 72.
Government officials had previously conducted a series of informal consultations as part of the omnibus variation discussion and as design workshops for a separate proposal late last year.
The Land Development Agency's indicative land release program shows 100 dwelling sites in Section 72 are scheduled for release in both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 financial years.
24 July 2015