Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 December 2021) . . Page.. 3966 ..
in 2012 that a cinema would be a good thing for Gungahlin. They were not wrong, and they are not wrong today. A cinema for Gungahlin would be a really, really good thing.
For those less acquainted with the Gungahlin cinema project, here is a short time line: in 2012 the ACT government listened to the community and allocated a site in the town centre for a cinema development. The tender process in 2013 was competitive, and a site was released to the purchaser. There were delays until eventually plans were approved in 2017. Then came the second major delay, a court battle between two competing cinema chains, best described as being about who had the rights to operate the cinema in the new development. Finally, new plans were lodged and approved in 2020. If construction had started on the most recent schedule, the complex would have been completed by February.
But that is not what happened. Instead, frustratingly, the Gungahlin community has watched the block of land released to become a cinema sit there as a pile of dirt for nearly a decade. To make matters worse, as we talk about delays for the cinema, there has not been a delay in the construction of other projects in Gungahlin. The empty block of land next to the cinema has been humming away as a construction site as a new office block has emerged. New apartment buildings are starting to emerge. This is not a construction problem. There is not a shortage of builders or materials.
A few weeks ago RiotACT reported that the developers still had no time line to start construction. Almost 10 years after the project was first considered, construction still has not commenced. That is why today I am calling on the ACT government to reaffirm its commitment to delivering a cinema in Gungahlin and I am calling on the government to do whatever it can to ensure that this cinema is delivered as soon as possible.
Our community is consistently let down by developers who hold the ACT government to ransom, pushing back delivery dates on projects with the knowledge that the government will always grant them an extension. Do not get me wrong, being able to grant extensions on development applications is important, but too often this is abused by developers who do not have the best interests of the community in mind.
This is why I am calling for a revision of the guidelines used for granting extensions on development applications. Our community should not be let down over and over again by developers who cannot commit to their own projects.
Gungahlin is the only town centre in Canberra that does not have a cinema. Gungahlin is also one of the youngest parts of the city, with many young families, children and lots of teenagers. It is just the done thing in Gungahlin that, when it is movie night, everyone hops in the car and drives over to Hoyts in Belconnen. It may seem like a small thing to some members in this place but it is hard to build a town centre when you do not have anchor tenants like a cinema. There is no late-night shopping in Gungahlin. There are a limited number of hospitality venues providing dine-in offerings into the evening, and a cinema will help change that.