Monthly Archives: November 2012

Competition – good or bad?

In August 2012, reports started coming in that Woolworths had bought the Hawker IGA for $5.4 million.  One report was quite definite that the purchase involved the adjoining car park as well.  Queries to both the Chief Minister and local representative, Mary Porter, elicited responses to the effect that the Government knew nothing about the sale and would not be able  to do anything about a private sale anyway.  On 17 October,  the Australian Financial Review announced that the ACCC was tackling Woolworths over its plan to purchase the Hawker IGA.  On 22 October, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission advised the FoHV that it was conducting market inquiries into Woolworths Limited’s proposed acquisition of the Supa IGA supermarket located in Hawker, under section 50 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 which prohibits acquisitions that substantially lessen competition in the market or are likely to do so.  As an interested party, FoHV was invited to lodge a submission, which it did on 25 October.  Individual  members of the association also lodged personal submissions.  See  our submissions page.

After the draft

After analysing the community feedback from the draft master plan consultation, Minister Andrew Barr announced a three-year moratorium on “government-sponsored development” on 13 February.  Given that this only affected the sale of land still owned by the ACT Government, FoHV was concerned that there would still be no controls over redevelopment of existing buildings.  Rather, the draft master plan had raised expectations of how far redevelopment could go.  After some communication with the Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, FoHV representatives discussed the way forward with her at a meeting on 1 August 2012.  In response to her invitation, FoHV submitted an outline of how the draft master plan could be progressed with minimal further expenditure.  The Chief Minister’s response, dated 7 September 2012, was not encouraging, especially as it referred to “the existing master plan”.

Community consultation

Consultation sessions on the draft master plan were held on Saturday 3 and 10  December 2012 with several sessions during the week.  Feedback sheets were provided at the display and also online.  The display comprised diagrams and a model of the Hawker Centre as it might look once fully-developed according to the draft master plan.  The consultation period continued until 31 January 2012, although feedback was accepted until 5 February.  The feedback sheets obtained under FOI show that 183 handwritten forms were submitted and 85 were submitted online, as well as twelve other submissions, totalling 280 in all.  Of these, 59% did not support the draft master plan, 36% supported it and 5% were undecided.  Those who did support the draft plan generally thought it was a good thing that would revitalise the Centre.  Many did not bother to make any other comments.  Those who did not support the draft plan cited concerns about  height and density of infill, loss of parking convenience, effect 0f a larger supermarket on other businesses, and poor quality residential development resulting in short-term occupancy.  There was a general feeling that the outcome would not be as rosy as the plan suggested.  The uncommitted believed that there were some good things along with some undesirable things and were generally unsure of the outcome.   See the Hawker Consultation Report.

The draft master plan

The draft master plan that was put out for public  consultation on 3 December was an even more extreme version of the extreme version produced in the design workshop.   It involved building on every car park and non-utilised piece of land in the Hawker Centre, including land zoned for urban open space, plus rebuilding on all the existing sites to increase height and incorporate residential units on floors above ground level.  A maximum height of eight storeys had been indicated at the drafting stage but no actual height limit was mentioned in the final draft.  All buildings would have at least four storeys and generally more.  The existing supermarket would be removed to allow extension of the road from Springvale Drive to the northern part of Hawker and to link with a new entrance to Belconnen Way.  A new and bigger supermarket would be constructed on the Springvale Drive car park.  This would incorporate public toilets so as to move maintenance from the public sphere to the private sphere.  Parking would be placed under buildings, at a current cost of $30,000 to 50,000 per parking space.  Short-term parking would be on-street with parallel or right-angled parking where possible.  On Hawker Place, this would be mixed with buses passing through but was deemed safer than off-street parking as the congestion would encourage drivers to slow down.