Shadow of a doubt: Concerns raised as proposed 50m high venue to overshadow Garema Place

Caroline Le Couteur, MLA

Shane Rattenbury, MLA

The ACT Greens have today expressed significant concerns with a proposed site for a 14-storey hotel in Garema Place—while reaffirming earlier calls for designated entertainment precincts.

In early May, Geocon lodged a development application for a 14-storey hotel in Canberra's CBD, between Garema Place and Bunda Street. The five-star Garema Hotel is expected to rise above 50 metres in height—almost as tall as the QT Hotel, and taller sections of The Canberra Hospital.

“The Greens believe that this proposal should be rejected on two grounds—overshadowing of Garema Place, and the potential squeezing-out of entertainment and nightlife,” ACT Greens Member for Kurrajong Shane Rattenbury said today.

 Sunshine in Garema Place

“The proposal is on the north side of Garema Place and would see it largely shaded from before 9am until after 11am during winter,” said Caroline Le Couteur, Greens spokesperson for Planning and the Arts.

“This raises the question – do we want a dark, cold, overshadowed city centre like the worst parts of Sydney CBD, or a sunny, enjoyable place to spend time? The Greens believe this is not a suitable site, given the height of the proposed development and potential for significant overshadowing,” Ms Le Couteur added.

Entertainment precincts

“In addition, Garema Place and Bunda Street are thriving night spots. The Greens want to see noise attenuation measures in place, so we can limit the risk of noise complaints in the area. This insulation would mean that Garema Place and Bunda Street can continue to be the noisy heart of Canberra’s night life,” ACT Greens Member for Kurrajong Shane Rattenbury said.

“That’s why the Greens have been pushing for the government to create designated entertainment precincts in our planning zones to help settle some of these issues. This should be a priority, particularly given this hotel proposal and the rate of new apartment blocks going up around the city,” Ms Le Couteur added.

The ACT Greens took a clear commitment to the 2016 election:

  • We committed $100,000 to fund the policy work needed to establish entertainment precincts and a major community consultation programme to accompany it.
  • We committed to providing warnings to new residents moving into entertainment precincts about the higher noise levels they should expect at night, and to require buildings in the precincts, both existing and new, to meet higher acoustic and noise standards.
  • We committed to legislating for the order of occupancy principle to protect existing venues from complaints that might arise from encroaching residential developments.