Tag Archives: consultants

Design workshop

On Saturday 29 October 2011, the PRG met for several hours to come up with ideas of how the Hawker Village might desirably be developed.  The group was divided around three tables, each containing a balanced representation of interest groups.  One table, however, had an interesting composition.  It comprised the General Manager, Urban Renewal, LDA;  the head of the town planning consultancy used throughout the year for the Hawker master planning process;  a trader whose family owns several buildings in Hawker;  a town planner who has an office in Hawker, a FoHV rep and another community rep.  At the end of the day, this group produced a plan that was more extreme than those produced by the other two groups, which were amazingly similar to each other.  The extreme plan involved developing all three car parks, building an access road from Belconnen Way between the hotel and the apartment block to connect to the existing cul-de-sac, and allowing up to eight storeys on any new development or redevelopment.

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Retail study

One of the reasons put forward for expansion of the Hawker Centre was the need for retail growth.  As there had been no serious study of retail demand in the area, FoHV asked for such a study to be done.  The consultant applied a, presumably, standard formula to income statistics and population profile in the catchment.  He acknowledged the closeness of other much larger retail centres within a four-kilometre radius of Hawker, i.e. Belconnen Mall, Belconnen markets, Jamison Plaza and Kippax Fair.  A small discount was employed in relation to the formula but it was not clear how this discount was estimated.  The consultant also compared Hawker to Southlands at Mawson.  His conclusion was that there was unmet demand at Hawker.  In response to a request by FoHV, two shoppers’ surveys were then conducted, one on-site and one by phone (see a summary of Hawker shopping surveys).  The results of these surveys did not seem to be considered further in the design of the draft master plan.

A perception of bias

Master plans are usually compiled by the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) which is responsible for the overall planning of Canberra, taking in a range of factors including social well-being.  FoHV were, therefore, disturbed that the Hawker master plan was to be undertaken by LDA, which is responsible for the sale of Territory-owned land.  Its role includes determining how a particular piece of land could be developed, with a view to ascertaining a reasonable expectation of the sale price.  As part of the Economic Development Directorate, its aim is to maximise returns to the ACT Government.  Its approach, therefore, is one of a real estate agent, not one of a good planner concerned about the effect of development on the citizens of Canberra.  FoHV were further concerned to find that the PRG meetings were to be chaired by David Dawes, the head of the then Department of Land and Property Services (which included LDA), and facilitated by the same consultant who ran the public information session on 26 June 2010.  Many of the consultants already contracted to do research for the master plan had also been involved previously with the proposed sale of Hawker car parks.  These concerns were discussed at the second meeting of the PRG on 2 March 2011 where it was made clear that no changes would be made to these arrangements.