Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 June 2021) . . Page.. 1652 ..
Despite significant space, lobbying and political promises for commercial development in the past, there has been a lack of actual results in Gungahlin. That is for a range of reasons. Two of them, I believe, are the development of the airport precinct and the lack of action of successive commonwealth governments, Labor and Liberal. They are the primary causes, in my opinion.
During the work week, Gungahlin town centre can be slow. Every morning a large proportion of Gungahlin’s population commute out of the area. In the evening they all commute home. Our roads become clogged during peak hour, and light rail and other public transport are even busier than they need to be. I often like to joke that I could save time on my commute if I was to drive on the often-empty other side of the road. It is a joke, of course, but it is a very visible symptom of the lopsided interaction that the Gungahlin district has with the rest of Canberra.
If you walk around Gungahlin during the day, you will see empty cafes, quiet shops and some empty trams. The town centre is not lively and invigorating. It is about people trying to sneak in a quick and quiet grocery shop or maybe even visit the doctor. The businesses that are open, mainly hospitality and retail, often struggle without the regular customers that other town centres have. If you need any more evidence of this, there are plenty of tenantless shopfronts that I can show you. Without any major employment hubs in the area, these businesses rely on weekend trading and the kids from Gungahlin College to keep things ticking over. When you compare this to activity in other town centres, it is a stark contrast.
I believe that the role of government is to shape communities. I am of the school of thought that when our communities need help, the government should step up. I also believe that our government, through our planning processes, has a central role in shaping our communities. The residents of Gungahlin have been waiting a long time for their town centre to be a vibrant town centre like the others.
If you look at the eastern side of Gungahlin town centre, it sits there empty. It is, quite literally, a paddock. It is roughly the same size as the entire developed town centre. I do not think that the residents of Gungahlin want to wait any longer, and I think that they want it to be developed properly. I do not think these need to be mutually exclusive.
Let me go to the detail of Mr Braddock’s motion. There are a few issues at play that deserve purposeful discussion, including community use land and the community discussion around DV364.
DV364 has not reduced the amount of land set aside for community use. The draft variation has updated the area required by reflecting that approximately 2.2 hectares of community land has already been developed from the original six hectares required. The draft variation requires 3.8 hectares of community use land. The draft variation proposes the option for community use being provided within mixed-use developments as gross floor area in certain circumstances and with the right safeguards. If these cannot be met, then the area provision applies.