Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh

The Gungahlin Town Centre has grown rapidly in recent years, attracting new residents, businesses and investment, particularly light rail. The centre will continue to grow into the future.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistic census data, between 2006 and 2016, the population of the suburb of Gungahlin, which includes the town centre, increased by 2,870 to 6,330 people and all employment increased by 2,450 to 4,100 employees.

To ensure that the town centre’s growth is appropriately managed, a refresh of the centre’s planning framework has been undertaken.

The refresh also responded to a government commitment to undertake a review in response to community concerns about liveability, amenity and types of development including with high density development particularly in the north-western precinct of the town centre.

The Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh - snapshot

The final Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh Snapshot provides a summary of the key issues that have been considered and the proposed recommendations for future changes and directions for planning and development.

The Snapshot includes for information purposes only, a Concept Variation to the Territory Plan‘s Gungahlin Precinct Map and Code that illustrates how the Snapshot’s recommendations relevant to Territory Plan will be implemented and progressed.

The Snapshot will be followed in early 2019 by the release of a draft Variation to the Territory Plan to give effect to the recommendations. This will provide the community with a further opportunity to influence the future of the town centre.

Planning Refresh recommendations

The planning refresh makes a number of recommendations and these are discussed below under the three key themes for the review.

Building height and character

The refresh found that much of the town centre, the building heights and land uses provided by the Territory Plan were still appropriate, except for two precincts, which are discussed below:

Gungahlin East

The precinct is currently undeveloped and reserved for office development. The refresh recommends various changes to this area including:

  • Increasing building heights from predominately 6 storeys (and potentially higher in parts due to building envelope controls) to between 8 and 10 storeys (up to approximately 38m high) for blocks fronting Flemington Road and stepping down to 6 and 3 storeys towards the perimeter of the precinct.
  • Reducing the target for all commercial office floor space from 200,000m², which was set in 2011, to 100,000m2 nticipated to generate some development in the precinct in the short term to support light rail and the light rail station along Flemington Road at Manning Clarke Crescent.
  • Removing the existing restriction on residential development within the precinct.
  • However, residential development will be prohibited on the ground floor along either side of Flemington Road; along parts of Kate Crace Street and Manning Clark Crescent; and along the linear open space park adjacent to both sides of Flemington Road.
  • 65,000m² will be reserved for large scale commercial office(s) and be reviewed in five years to assess the commercial office uptake.

North West Gungahlin

The precinct is largely developed and includes a number of high rise residential developments either completed, under construction or with development approval.

The refresh recommends changes to this area including:

  • recommends development up to 12 storeys for undeveloped blocks and for blocks to be redeveloped, a maximum building height of 14 storeys (up to approximately 51m high), stepping down to 7 storeys to minimise overshadowing, bulk and scale.

It is noted that existing apartment developments in the precinct are up to 18, 20 and 22 storeys (up to approximately 69m high), which were permitted by a historical provision in the Territory Plan that has now lapsed.

Walking Cycling and Road transport

The refresh recommends various changes to walking, cycling and road transport including:

  • Investigating future transport upgrades and traffic management improvements following the commencement of light rail, the new bus network and other public place upgrades.
  • Investigate improving active travel connections in, to and through the town centre including to the city.
  • Monitor short and long stay parking supply and demand as the town centre grows and develops.
  • In the short to medium term, increased development in the town centre will not significantly increase traffic issues.
  • Monitor the use of the Gungahlin town centre park and ride facility and consider the need for additional park and ride facilities, as Gungahlin grows.

Upgrade of open spaces

The refresh recommends various changes to walking, cycling and road transport including:

  • Undertake investigations to improve the quality and use of existing open spaces through future upgrades and improving active travel connections to the open space network surrounding the town centre.

Community facilities

In response to community feedback, the planning refresh also considered the provision of community facilities in the town centre and recommended the following:

  • Retain the Territory Plan’s (existing) requirement for six hectares of community facility zoned land. Community facility uses could include education establishment, religious associated uses, community activity centre, community theatre, or cultural facility.
  • Review the location of community facility land within the Gungahlin East Precinct to potentially support the opportunities presented through light rail.

Message from community

Key messages from the 2017 community engagement are summarised below and detailed in the Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh - Community Engagement Report:

Building height and character

  • There were mixed views about increasing building heights in the town centre.
  • Support for retaining the current building heights noting concern about traffic congestion, bulk and scale; overshadowing; privacy; and the interface with existing developments.
  • Support for increasing building heights noting that the town centre character was changing; design quality was more important than building height; the need for additional marker buildings; and the strong demand for residential development.

Upgrading and enhancing public spaces

  • Additional public spaces and open space are wanted by the community in the town centre, including active and passive recreation spaces and pocket parks.
  • Public spaces should be well designed including with landscaping, seating, shade, recreational activities, playgrounds and opportunities for community activities and good access.
  • The amenity of Gungahlin Place needs to be improved, including landscaping, seating and shade.

Walking, cycling and road transport

  • There was significant concern about increasing traffic congestion, as a result of the continuing growth of the town centre. Traffic flow and intersections also need to be improved.
  • There are concerns that parking supply is not meeting short and long term demand.
  • Safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorist needs to be improved.
  • There is strong support to improve the pedestrian and cycling network both within and into the town centre.

What will happen next?

  • A draft Variation to the Territory Plan process will be formally released early next year to give effect to the snapshot’s recommendations. The variation process will include community engagement.
  • The snapshot’s recommended improvements to parks, pedestrian and cycle paths and other public domain improvements will require ACT Government funding, which will be dependent on further investigations, future budget bids and private sector investment.

The Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh - background

The original planning vision for the Gungahlin Town Centre in the mid 1990’s was for a low scale urban village with maximum four (4) storey buildings across the centre.

Planning was reviewed in 2010 through the Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Report that considered whether planning was producing the desired outcomes for the town centre and the community. The key recommendations of this 2010 Planning Report that informed Variation to the Territory Plan No. 300 (2011) were:

  • Maintain Gungahlin’s town centre’s distinctive “urban village” character.
  • Identify two office precincts; an office park in the north-west, and office core in the east with large sites and flexible planning provisions to attract government departments.
  • Prohibit residential uses and service apartment in the office core precinct.
  • Increase building heights and introducing building envelopes to minimise overshadowing, bulk and scale in the office core precinct.
  • Increase building heights and introducing building height criteria for the office park precinct.
  • Reserve 200,000m² for commercial office floor space distributed in two precincts (office park and office core) to accommodate 10,000 office jobs to encourage more employment in Gungahlin.

Since 2010, the Gungahlin town centre has grown substantially, attracting new residents, businesses and investment, particularly light rail. To ensure that the town centre’s planning framework remains contemporary to direct and manage growth and the benefits that light rail will bring, a planning review or refresh has been undertaken.

The planning refresh focused on the following three key themes, which respond to key community concerns:

  • Building height and character
  • Upgrading and enhancing public spaces
  • Walking, cycling and road transport

In 2017, community engagement on these three themes was undertaken and a community engagement report prepared.

Community feedback received during the 2017 engagement process was reviewed and assessed through the following technical analysis to inform the refresh’s recommendations:

  • a 3D Canberra model for the Gungahlin town centre and surrounds to test the impacts of built form and height options including bulk and scale, overshadowing and the interface with existing development;
  • review of public open spaces, landscaping and amenity, connections to the wider open space network and active travel; and
  • traffic resulting from the growth and future development were tested through Canberra Strategic Transport Model.

Further Information

Email: Gungahlin@act.gov.au

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