31 July 2023

Gold Creek Country Club build-to-rent proposal categorised as a 'motel' to avoid rezoning

| Ian Bushnell
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man and woman standing in field

Community of Nicholls Resident Group director Anne Emms and president Gary Samuels on the land next to Curran Drive earmarked for development. Photos: Ian Bushnell.

The proposed build-to-rent development on a section of the Gold Creek Country Club is being categorised as a motel to avoid having to change the lease and rezone the land.

The Community of Nicholls Residents Group (CNRG) discovered this during a 22 July consultation session with Canberra Town Planning, which is acting on behalf of the Konstantinou family’s Gungahlin Golf Investments.

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CNGR is opposing the 700-dwelling proposal on underutilised land on Curran Drive, which would be developed over 10 years across seven precincts.

It would include two to four-storey townhouses and apartments ranging from two to four bedrooms.

On the fifth precinct would be a four-storey communal amenity zone, which could house a cafe, sporting facility or community hall at a future date.

CNRG says the development is inappropriate for the site and would not comply with the current Parks and Recreation 2 Zone rules and would also require a change to the purpose clause of the Crown lease.

proposed development plan

The proposed masterplan of the Gold Creek Country Club development. Construction is expected to be staged over 10 years. Image: Gungahlin Golf Investments.

Members were stunned to hear about the proponent’s approach.

“The proposal is a small suburb-sized multi-unit residential housing development, which is not permitted on PRZ2 zoned land, nor is it a permitted use under the Crown lease,” CNRG president Gary Samuels said.

“Characterisation of this 700-dwelling ‘build-to-rent’ development as a ‘motel’ is a very creative attempt to avoid time-consuming rezoning in the Territory Plan and purpose clause changes to the Crown lease. This proposal is not a ‘motel’.”

A GGI spokesperson said build-to-rent as a vehicle for affordable housing did not apply to the proposal, which did not fit neatly into the lease and use definitions in the Territory Plan.

The ACT Planning rules did not currently have a clear definition of build-to-rent offered in this way, the spokesperson said.

GGI would propose to the ACT Planning Authority as part of the development application that this type of development was best characterised under the definition of a motel, which is a permittable use within the current Crown lease for Block 14 Section 86 Nicholls.

“A motel is defined as ‘the use of land for one or more commercial accommodation units and where the units are provided with convenient space for parking of motor vehicles. It may also include associated facilities such as a restaurant, bar or functions room, which may be used by the occupants of the premises but, which are also available for use by non-occupant members of the public. A motel may be licensed under the Liquor Act 2010’,” the spokesperson said.

“Should the Planning Authority approve the development proposal on this basis there will be no need to change the Crown lease and correspondingly there would be no lease variation charges payable in relation to variation to the lease.”

But it would require a lease change for an increase in gross floor area, which would incur a lease variation charge.

CNRG said that a motel was defined as being for short-term accommodation, not for long-term residential accommodation under residential tenancy agreements.

While GGI believed the development could provide some housing relief it would not be accessing the government’s build-to-rent incentives.

man and woman standing in field

Mr Samuels and Ms Emms with the land slated for development behind them. The proposal is not only against the planning rules but also too big for the site, they say.

Besides the planning law concerns, CNRG believes the proposal is inappropriate development due to density, height, traffic and wildlife corridor issues, and has labelled it an ambit claim.

“In its current form, the community of Nicholls will strongly oppose the development,” Mr Samuels said.

Mr Samuels said CNRG would support an alternative option for permitted ancillary use where the old par five practice hole is, as well as the development of outdoor ancillary uses such as a multi-use health and recreation facility and a six-hole pitch and putt course on the PRZ2 land on either side of the access road, which would fit under the existing Crown lease.

“CNRG is not anti-development, it’s about appropriate development,” he said.

The proposal would also encroach on the current driving range.

The GGI spokesperson said the driving range would be retained, but it may change in scale, size and amenities provided.

“It is envisioned that revenue from this development will generate funds to allow a more modern driving range with additional facilities to be established on the site in future years,” the spokesperson said.

GGI says it is embarking on another attempt to develop some of the club land to generate other income streams and secure the future of the club and course.

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The housing is expected to be high quality and rented at a premium, appealing to those seeking to downsize or people who wish to avoid the Canberra winters without the responsibility of maintaining their own home.

It will include communal facilities, commercial shopfronts such as cafes, and areas of open green space that blend with the surrounding golf course and club facilities.

Those living in the precinct could be potential members of the golf club, with access to course facilities at the golf course and associated membership fees being part of their rent.

GGI has extended the community consultation period to 9 August 2023.

CNRG said the pre-DA consultation approach had not complied with the planning requirements, including mandatory consultation with the National Capital Design Review Panel.

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on Riotact.

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