12 November 2021

No pool and now no cinema in sight: Gungahlin's nine-year wait continues

| Max O'Driscoll
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Gungahlin cinema design

A virtual image of the Gungahlin cinema design from 2019. Photo: File.

The Gungahlin cinema site, on the corner of Hinder and Efkarpidis Streets, was first selected by the ACT Government in 2012.

Nine years later, developers have confirmed to Region Media there remains no timeline for construction to start.

Franklin-based developers the Krnc Group are developing the cinema for operators United Cinemas. As of July 2020, the projected construction completion date was February 2022. Fifteen months later, it appears unlikely that construction will have even begun by that point.

Cinemas have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and developers cited concerns over the state of the cinema industry as the major reason construction is yet to begin.

They said once they were comfortable that the cinema industry had “re-emerged”, they would begin moving forward with the project.

For the people of Gungahlin, however, it’s just another disappointing chapter in what has become a long-winded story filled with troubles, triumphs and pitfalls, which in nine years, has yet to lead to any tangible development.

Upon receiving the update, Gungahlin Community Council President Peter Elford described the overwhelming community feeling.

“It’s hard to say it’s anything other than high levels of frustration,” said Mr Elford.

“Part of the problem we’ve got is that there have been extended delays on the entire project and it just feels like it’s almost a mythical thing that’s never going to happen.

“It’s a bit of a moot point if the cinema is constructed and we can’t use it because of COVID restrictions, that would be doubly frustrating.”

While expressing disappointment, Mr Elford acknowledged the validity of the “pragmatic” approach taken to the development.

“We understand that if there’s no money coming through the doors, it’s very hard for a business to make investments,” he said.

“The Community Council’s position is that we’ll continue to try and get information out to the community to let them know what’s going on, but there’s not much advocacy we can place here other than to keep the community informed that it’s still coming, it’s just paused.”

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Member for Yerrabi Michael Pettersson said he shared the frustration that Gungahlin residents felt and acknowledged the importance of the project, especially considering the results of a survey he conducted recently.

“The thing that stood out to me most was the desire for Gungahlin residents to have entertainment in their town centre,” Mr Pettersson said.

“Above and beyond any retail or hospitality offering, Gungahlin residents want to see entertainment options.

“The lack of a cinema is something that Gungahlin residents are keenly aware of and something I want to see rectified.”

While not commenting on the status of the agreement, Mr Pettersson said all options should be on the table, ensuring “appropriate entertainment options” in Gungahlin are secured.

“Gungahlin still has a lot of work to be done to make it the destination that we want it to be but, on a very personal note, it’s something I’m deeply passionate about and something I’m committed to seeing come to fruition.”

Original Article published by Max O’Driscoll on The RiotACT.

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