The Save Curtin Shops group holds grave concerns for the redevelopment of their local centre, starting with a proposed lease variation. The ACT Government has released a Commercial Zones Policy Review Paper for public comment due on July 5. The Curtin local centre example is pertinent to all suburbs with a local shopping centre.
By Ewa Kretowicz
Curtin residents and store owners fear a proposed lease variation to the suburban shopping hub will push out small traders to make way for residential redevelopment.
But the owners who are seeking the changes say there are no plans to demolish the building and built units. The lease variation proposal asks to vary the purpose clause to add “residential” and “non-retail commercial use” and would potentially increase height restrictions.
Spokeswoman for the Save Curtin Shops group Helen Marsden said the community was concerned about the variety of stores and solar access to Curtin square. John Oliver and his wife Libby will lodge an objection to the lease variation before submissions close on June 28. They fear businesses would close during a redevelopment and not return.
Mrs Oliver said the community was enormously lucky to have a variety of stores and would fight to keep them. “We really like the light in the square because people can actually use the square — a second storey there would actually block a lot of the light and produce a wind tunnel,” she said.
Speaking for the owner of building, Sophia Haridemos, Nick Haridemos denied there were plans to redevelop the site. “The lease was granted in 1967 so the use is [almost] 50 years old we just want to modernise our lease,” he said. “We’re not building a new building or development; it’s just a lease variation. We have no plans at the moment to do anything but change the usage and modernise the lease.”
But the lease variation proposal makes reference to a further application. “In relation to the addition of ‘residential’ use, this use could not be utilised in the existing building, only upon a full redevelopment of the site,” the applications says. “A further application for design and siting would have to be submitted which would include plans for basement car parking. That application would also require a traffic and parking assessment, a noise management plan and a contamination report.”
The owner of second-hand book store Beyond Q, Simon Maddox, said leases were gradually changing to include demolition clauses. “For someone who isn’t planning on doing anything you would wonder why you would have a demolition clause,” he said. “From a business point of view as each one of us comes to have our business reviewed he could put in a demolition clause and simply say to the last one, ‘you’ve got the longest lease, I’ll buy you out,’ and then go ahead and redevelop it.”
The ACT Planning and Land Authority received a petition signed by more than 300 residents to extend the consultation deadline. But chief planning executive, Neil Savery said the deadline would not be extended. “A sign was erected on the site and replaced after ACTPLA was informed it had been removed,” Mr Savery said. “The shop lessees, nearby residents and interested parties were notified by letter as per the legislation.”
The Save Curtin Shops group will hold a community meeting at the suburban shopping centre at 1 1am on Saturday.
Note: copyright of the material in this clipping resides with Fairfax Media. Usage permitted in accordance with the Australian Copyright Act 1968, Section 42: Fair dealing for purpose of reporting news. Source: The Canberra Times – 23 June 2011