Sentiment is growing in Canberra’s north for more commercial office space and government buildings to be planned for the Gungahlin Town Centre.
Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) president, Peter Elford, said the lack of office buildings and government agencies makes it harder for Gungahlin to “sustain a commercial centre, because everyone is going somewhere else for work”, contributing to the much-discussed issue of congestion on Gungahlin’s roads.
“There’s also a huge amount of commercial office space in Canberra. To attract non-government employment out here is hard,” he said.
An ACT Government spokesperson said the government was aware of the interest from the community, and indicated the ACT Government plans to increase commercial land in the Gungahlin Town Centre. Around 700 ACT Government staff were relocated to Winyu House in Gungahlin in 2015.
“The Gungahlin Town Centre Planning Refresh proposes to reserve 65,000sqm for commercial office development through an upcoming Draft Variation to the Territory Plan … the Government’s Indicative Land Release Program 2019-20 to 2022-23 (June 2019) also includes the release of commercial land every year over the coming four years of the program.”
The spokesperson said the upcoming Draft Variation was expected to be referred to Planning and Land Management Minister Mick Gentlemen shortly, with it then to be released for public consultation.
Mr Elford said the GCC would be keeping an eye on sites released that are zoned for office space with the option of also being “mixed use” to avoid “diluting” the Town Centre with more residential units.
“We continue to lobby the ACT Government to ensure there is space maintained and retained for office space in the Town Centre,” he said.
GCC committee member Luke Hadfield said the Gungahlin community want “some sort of steady employment for the region”, referencing businesses struggling to stay open during the disruptive construction of the light rail network.
“If more people in the area are employed, have jobs, that means businesses are being supported which means more people are getting employed.”
In May 2018, the Federal Government agency Defence Housing Australia (DHA) was confirmed to relocate to Gungahlin, a move welcomed by the GCC and the Gungahlin community.
At the time, Liberal ACT Senator Zed Seselja said DHA would bring around 290 full-time jobs to the area.
“The broader benefits of a Commonwealth agency as a key anchor tenant will boost the local economy and encourage businesses to locate in the town centre,” he said.
“We know that the success of our local town centres is significantly impacted by the locations of government department offices, as key anchor tenants in the capital.”