Kingston Foreshore character 'under threat' with Territory Plan change

NEW PLAN: Janet Hughes and Nancy Waites are concerned about the lack of consultation over a plan for a six story apartment block on the Peninsular. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos
NEW PLAN: Janet Hughes and Nancy Waites are concerned about the lack of consultation over a plan for a six story apartment block on the Peninsular. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

The ACT government will allow a new six-storey apartment block on one of the most prestigious pieces of land on the Kingston Foreshore peninsula.

A Territory Plan variation was published in early September to allow the increased height for the building on Honeysett View, but it was made without any public consultation with the community.

It is the second such variation made in the past year to the area, after the government overturned a ban on hotels in the Kingston arts precinct last year.

The latest variation has increased residents' concerns that the foreshore area, which is home to several heritage-listed buildings, may be 'under threat' from future changes made without consultation.

The main change will allow the developer of the $21.65 million block of land on the peninsula, Keggins Homes, to build up to 20 metres high under a raft of conditions, including fitting in with surrounding buildings.

While that exceeds the overall four-storey height limit that applies elsewhere in the suburb, there are already numerous of apartments on the foreshore that extend to that height.

Under the changes, the developers will be allowed to build up to a full height of six storeys in a 15m by 20m section, not the entire building.

Other changes include a three metre setback for people to walk around the peninsula on the lakeside, ensuring open common areas and pedestrian access through the building at ground level is included, as well as several changes to rules for nearby allotments.

But Kingston and Barton Residents Group president Rebecca Scouller said residents were worried about the lack of consultation about the change, particularly after the similar variation to the arts precinct.

"Here we are again having the same conversation about scope creep of the foreshore masterplan," she said.

Ms Scholler said the government had promised more transparent consultation on planning, but that "yet again we see another technical amendment that under Section 87 of the Act, requires no public consultation whatsoever".

"The allowable change in building height potentially impacts the amenity of the area with local residents and businesses already noting issues with access and parking in the area," she said.

"However they were not given an opportunity to comment on the amendment."

The prominent block was sold to Keggins Homes last year for $21 million, and is widely expected to be home to a signature building for the foreshore precinct.

Keggins Homes' Tim Pan said the plans, while not yet public, were for a residential apartment block with a handful of commercial leases on the ground floor, despite the land's CZ5 zoning potentially allowing for a hotel.

"We don't want to disturb the current character of the foreshore precinct, we want to add to it, and if you look around there's already a lot of six storey buildings there," he said.

"We also want it to be a more local development, maybe with interstate owners who come and go, or local owners who want to invest in the foreshore.

"From our point of view, we do prefer local people more than overseas investors, because the more that live locally, the more they spend on the foreshore and it helps the coffee shops and bars."

But Ms Scholler said the latest change went to the broader issue of the cumulative impact technical amendments and other planning loopholes could have on a suburb's original master plan. 

"This issue isn't confined to the Foreshore but may impact areas like West Basin and other urban renewal precincts like the Northbourne Avenue corridor," she said.

"The community, residents and local businesses have one understanding of what the precinct is meant to look like only to find the ACT government and developers can make significant changes retrospectively without consultation or engagement."

She said the continual changes to the foreshore was allowing the use of CZ5 'mixed use' zoning to "override the protection of heritage", potentially putting the unique qualities of the precinct under threat.