Category Archives: Community consultation

Starting a new year

Although it is not within the Hawker group centre precinct, the Committee have, after much consideration, decided to appeal a development approval on Belconnen Way, Page.  Our appeal has been made to the ACT Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal on the basis that the development would set a precedent that could result in adverse consequences for residents and for access to the Hawker Centre.

Most of you will be aware of the flat-roofed house at the corner of Petterd Street and Belconnen Way, Page, that was demolished recently.  This house comprised a residence with attached flat and the block has been treated as multi-unit, meaning it is subject to densification limits different from those applying to neighbouring single-dwelling blocks.  As a multi-unit block, it has been approved for five dwellings covering 65% of the block.  A single-dwelling block of its size of 1,075 sq.m would be permitted to have only three dwellings covering 50% of the block.

It is not obvious that there are ten of these duplexes on the 45 blocks in the Page section of Belconnen Way between Coulter Drive and the underpass to the Hawker shops, five of them around the Springvale Drive intersection.  This is because, when constructed, they were required to retain the appearance of an ordinary residential house.  The blocks in question are random suburban blocks that were not specifically designated for medium-density development as were the two-storeyed duplexes at the Cook shops, for instance.

There have been three development applications for this property, all of which are detailed on our website along with the Notice of Decision for each one (see www.friendsofhawkervillage.com/DAs/Page.  We would welcome your comments either by email or on our website.

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Important amendment to Planning Act in a hurry

On 20 March, the Planning and Development (Project Facilitation) Amendment Bill 2014 was tabled in the Assembly.  Planning fast track bill.  Although Greens Minister, Shane Rattenbury, supports the Bill, he successfully had the Bill referred to the Standing Committee on Planning, Environment and Territory and Municipal Services on 8 April for decision on 6 May.  On 11 April, comments were invited from the community by COB 22 April.  At 9.24 am on 14 April an email was despatched advising that the first hearing would take place that day from 11 am to noon.  The witness was the planning Minister Simon Corbell, accompanied by four members of the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate.  Mr Corbell described the Bill as “part of the measures to support the building industry”.  Notes on Planning Amendment Bill hearing 14 Apr.  The only other scheduled hearing day is 24 April.  FoHV lodged  a submission today.  See Friends of Hawker Village – Project Facilitation Bill.

2014 campaign

On 21 November, the first AGM of FoHV Incorporated was held.   Given that the three-year moratorium placed on redevelopment of Hawker Village will have only one year to run from next February, it was agreed that efforts should be made to engage the community, including business owners, to determine preferences for the future form of Hawker Village.

It was  acknowledged that the ACT Government’s policies include:

• densification of group centres to include residential to accommodate population growth;
• boosting current revenue from sale of land considered to be underutilised, especially surface car parks;
• boosting future revenue from rates and land tax;
• removing responsibility for regular maintenance of infrastructure such as car parks and public toilets by incorporating them into private property.

It is, therefore, highly unlikely that the ACT Government will accede to requests that no major changes be made to Hawker Village.  The fragmented ownership of the buildings in Hawker Village means that redevelopment will be difficult and that owners are reluctant to improve their premises, so that the village has become rundown.

Accordingly, the meeting accepted that the community should debate the best form of redevelopment with a view to presenting a preferred community vision to the Government when the moratorium ends.

An important consideration for debate is the desired building height for  different parts of the centre.  Unless these heights are incorporated into the Territory Plan, the master plan will be ineffective.

It was agreed that a table should be erected at the shops over summer after the Christmas holidays.  A question sheet will be presented for users of the shops to indicate the features they consider essential to be maintained and the changes they would like to see – what is important and what is marginally important. The aim will be to gather alternative ideas and to find a satisfactory compromise.

A suggestion that Hawker Village become a single, internal, airconditioned  space, like the Jamison Centre, was contrasted with the fact that many residents prefer the outdoor feel as currently exists.  How to find a compromise between those who want to be protected from the weather and those who like to sit in the fresh air is a typical example of the issues to be encountered.

Competition – simply a popularity contest?

On 26 June, representatives from FoHV attended a meeting with the ACCC to express concerns about the likely loss of product and service variety and choice should Woolworths proposed purchase of the Hawker IGA go ahead.   Contrary to expectation, they were advised that closure of small businesses at Hawker would not be a competition issue as new businesses might open up and operate more successfully;  loss of a single store would not, by itself, affect local suppliers and the ACCC does not have the authority to monitor and consider the overall impact of successive closures;  possible construction of a larger supermarket on the car park was not a consideration as the issues would be the same as for the current store;  creeping acquisition by Woolworths of independent supermarkets at Kippax, Charnwood and now, possibly, Hawker is only significant in that there are already four Woolworths stores in Belconnen, with a fifth to be built in Giralang.   The ACCC is waiting on analysis of the survey results to ascertain whether the product and service choice provided by Supa IGA is valued by a sufficient percentage of the population to warrant preserving it.

All things must come

After further postponing their decision on Woolworths’ proposed purchase of the Hawker IGA, the ACCC commissioned Roy Morgan to conduct a shoppers’ survey by telephone and on-site at the Hawker shops.  The ACCC has now announced that their decision on whether the purchase would be anti-competitive will be released on 4 July – Independence Day (USA).  Is this significant?

Incorporation

On 5 March 2013, Friends of Hawker Village became an incorporated association.  This provides certain rights as well as additional responsibilities.  The interim constitution of the association contains objectives that cover developments in any of the four suburbs of the Hawker Village catchment area, i.e. Hawker, Page, Scullin and Weetangera.  Details of development applications for these suburbs will be placed on the DA’s page of this website to assist residents understand what is happening in their neighbourhood.

Precinct code – rewrite or change?

The ACT Planning and Development Agency (ACTPLA) released Technical Amendment 2012-06 for community consultation in late October.  This amendment to the Territory Plan involved transferring various provisions relating to individual sites in the ACT in different codes located throughout the Territory Plan to a single code, specific to each site, known as a precinct code.  With assistance from several sources, we were able to trace the origin of the various rules and criteria contained in the Hawker precinct code.   Most of them came from the Group Centres Development Code which no longer exists.   There was one criterion that had been reworded and seemed to have potential for a less favourable outcome than the original wording.   After discussion facilitated by Mary Porter, ACTPLA agreed to retain the original wording.  The technical amendment (including the Hawker precinct code) was incorporated into the Territory Plan on 14 December.   As a technical amendment, it did not need approval from the Legislative Assembly.

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.

Parking

The PRG was presented with several reports compiled by LDA consultants.  The parking consultant explained to the PRG that a recorder walked around the centre every half hour counting empty parking spaces.  This meant that the parking study did not show whether or for how long spaces were used in each half hour.  FoHV had hoped that the parking study would provide statistics on the behaviour of people using the car parks.  For this reason, FoHV requested a shoppers survey to ascertain usage.  LDA agreed and decided to also conduct another phone survey (one was conducted in August 2010).  Again, FoHV were disappointed in that, rather than asking specific questions, general questions were asked that could have several responses.  Once again, the importance of readily-available parking at Hawker was not shown.