Proposed Removal of Concessional Status from Block 2 Section 61 Curtin (22 Theodore Street)
Catholic Social Services Australia is proposing to remove the concessional status from the Crown Lease for Block 2 Section 61 Curtin, ACT, 2605.
As part of the preparation of a Development Application for the proposal, CSSA is undertaking a program of consultation to engage with the neighbouring community and key stakeholders.
In relation to information presented here, we would appreciate any comments that you may have regarding the proposal.
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Block 2 Section 61 Curtin (the subject site) is located to the south of the Curtin Group Centre within an area zoned CF Community Facility Zone. The subject site has an area of approximately 4,042m² and currently comprises a two-storey purpose built convent that was constructed in circa 1966. The property is in near original condition and has been vacant since July 2016.
The existing building comprises an estimated gross floor area of 1,110m² (700m² at the ground floor and 410m² at the first floor) and the original design incorporated bedrooms, referred to as ‘cells’, common rooms, bathrooms, meeting rooms and a chapel. Whilst there have been no physical extensions or additions to the premises, minor internal alterations have taken place over the years to convert the premises into satisfactory office accommodation. There are nine (9), sealed car parking spaces (including two disabled car parking spaces) located within the setback to Theodore Street.
The proposal is to remove the concessional status of the Crown Lease only.
This proposal will be the first in a series of Development Applications to prepare the site for re-development. Future Applications are likely to include proposals to vary the Crown Lease purpose clause (for additional community use rights) and design and siting development proposals.
It is noted that all future Development Applications will be subject to the statutory public notification processes and some Applications may be subject to pre-DA public consultation. In this regard, there will be ample opportunities for the community to gauge, consider and comment on the future aspirations for this site.
- Given the sites’ location alongside a large area of urban open space, there is a prominent threat of vandalism and theft if the building is to remain vacant.
- Should the building remain vacant, it is likely that regular inspections and/or building maintenance would be reduced. This lack of regular and ongoing maintenance could lead to progressive deterioration of the building.
- A vacant and gradually deteriorating building would also not be an acceptable social amenity outcome or an efficient use of community zoned land.
- Despite the building being currently well-maintained, it is over 50 years old and has relatively poor amenity.
- To render the premises suitable for ongoing use as either office accommodation and/or co-located and multi-use community facilities (subject to Lease Variation to amend the purpose clause), a significant amount of capital investment and associated work would be required. This would be further compounded through the known likelihood of in situ asbestos within the existing building structures.
- The marketability of the site for other community uses is also very limited due to its highly restricted Crown Lease purpose clause, which requires the site to be used only for the purposes of a Convent and/or the provision of office for the secretariat of the Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission.
- It is considered to be far more feasible for the existing building to be removed and the site re-developed with a new community building incorporating facilities that can cater for child care services. A re-development of this nature would provide opportunities to create an integrated urban renewal program that would complement the Curtin Group Centre and the initiatives envisioned by the Draft Master Plan. This would include improvements in connectivity and integration with the adjoining community land and the remainder of the Group Centre, and a far more efficient use of the valuable community land asset.
- CSSA is not a child care service provider; however, such services are consistent with the mission and operations of CSSA and the social services ministry of the Church. In this regard and in considering all other possibilities, the CSSA Board resolved to sell the site and to utilise the proceeds arising from the sale to further the mission of CSSA.
- The sale of the site is unable to be progressed as the land is subject to a Crown Lease with a Concessional status. Until this status is removed, CSSA is unable to deal with the Title.
Under the Territory Plan, the site is currently zoned CF Community Facility Zone. The uses permitted under the Merit Track (as relevant) are:
- Business agency;
- Childcare Centre;
- Community activity centre;
- Community theatre;
- Cultural facility;
- Educational establishment;
- Emergency services facility;
- Health facility;
- Indoor recreation facility;
- Outdoor recreation facility;
- Place of worship;
- Public agency;
- Religious associated use;
- Residential care accommodation;
- Retirement village; and
- Supportive housing.
An examination by the Authority of the leasing status of Block 2 Section 61, Curtin confirmed that the Crown Lease was granted under the Leases (Special Purposes) Ordinance 1925-1943 on 18 May 1967, and commenced on 16 August 1965 for a term of ninety-nine years.
Rent is payable at a rate of seventy-five (75) dollars per annum.
There is a specific formula for calculating the concessional lease payout, which is provided at Section 263 of the Planning and Development Act 2007.
For the Application, a qualified Valuer has been instructed to undertake a market valuation of the Crown Leasehold interest in the subject site. This valuation will be presented to the Authority for the purposes of ‘paying-out’ or discharging the lease concession.
Business Geographics Pty Ltd has prepared a Child Care Needs Assessment to determine the demand for long day care services in Curtin. The Assessment reveals that there is a supply restricted market verging on undersupply - where most parents would have difficulties in finding suitable care for their children in the local area.
Woden Valley Community Council
A twenty-minute presentation to the WVCC Executive Committee was made at their Public Meeting on Wednesday 2 August 2017.
The presentation was conducted via a slideshow, which included details of the history of the site, the proposal and the justification for the proposal. A time for questions from the audience was provided at the end of the presentation.
The audience reception to the proposal was generally positive. The questions raised have been used to update the FAQs pages of this website.
Curtin Resident Association
The Honorary Secretary of the Curtin Resident Association (CRA) was present at the WVCC Public Meeting on Wednesday 2 August 2017.
On Sunday 6 August 2017, the Secretary contacted Canberra Town Planning requesting details of the Community Information (Drop-In) Session so that it could be publicised in the CRA online newsletter and/or by direct email to members. Canberra Town Planning responded to this email on Monday 7 August 2017 and provided the details as requested.
Community Information Events – Information Drop-In Sessions
A Community Information (Drop-In) Session was held on Tuesday 22 August from 5:30pm –7:30pm at the CSSA building located on the subject site. The CSSA building was selected as the venue for the Information Session, as it is the subject of the proposal. The Information Session was held in one of the empty boardrooms and light refreshments were available to the attendees.
This Information Session comprised an informal verbal presentation of the proposal by members of the Project Team. Key project staff, including the Director of Capital Crown Leasing, a Director of Canberra Town Planning and a representative of CSSA, were in attendance to provide information and to answer any questions from attendees.
The community’s reception to the proposal was generally positive. The questions raised at the Information Sessions have been used to inform the FAQs pages of this website.