ECEC developer accuses Canberra’s NCCC of disruption and delay tactics
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ECEC developer accuses Canberra’s NCCC of disruption and delay tactics

by Freya Lucas

July 27, 2022

An early childhood education and care (ECEC) developer has accused the North Canberra Community Council (NCCC) of using disrupt and delay tactics to frustrate development in the inner north.

 

Simon Patterson, Chief Executive of the Ainslie Group, hit out at the NCCC for taking its approved childcare proposal to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT), saying it was ‘out of step with the community’, and warning that it will pursue compensation if successful.

 

The NCCC’s response, Mr Patterson continued, is acting in a way which is “hardly reflective of a community organisation that should represent the broader interests of all demographics in the inner north of Canberra”. 

 

In response, the NCCC rejected the feedback, noting that it “does not oppose development in the inner north but is responding to community members’ concerns” 

 

The Ainslie Group operates the Ainslie Football & Social Club, and last year unveiled a ten year master plan for developing surplus or unused land around the Alan Ray Oval as part of a strategy to find other revenue streams to reduce its reliance on gaming machines.

 

In the first stage of these plans, a $4 million, 92-place childcare centre on Angas Street is  planned, however the ACAT appeal will now delay a start on the project for at least six months.

 

Other elements of development proposals include a new football and social club, age in place apartments, terraces, and a new grandstand. As a result of the ACAT instance, the Group will not go out to tender, something which Mr Patterson said will further add to the cost of the project at a time when the construction sector is beset with supply chain and price issues.

 

Mr Patterson’s comments align with those made public by YWCA Canberra, which recently called on the ACT Government to rein in third-party appeals against proposals that were beneficial to the community.

 

The Ainslie Group is concerned that the review process on matters of planning and development is “uniquely susceptible to vexatious claims”.

 

“The Group will defend its position strenuously, and if successful, will explore its options to seek compensation, either individually or collectively,” he added.

 

This is the second appeal related to the development of an ECEC service on the site, with the NCCC previously objecting to a verge crossing on Angas Street needed for a 30-space car park.

 

A statement from the NCCC said that it sought the ACAT review based on concerns about a number of issues, including those relating to safety traffic and the status of the land as a sports and recreation reserve.

 

“The NCCC does not oppose new developments in North Canberra, but it is important that spaces zoned as sports and recreation are retained for this purpose as green spaces will become increasingly important for the community over time.”

 

An ACAT directions hearing was held 22 July in relation to the issues. 

 

To access local coverage of this story, please see here. Image credit: Spacelab Studio

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