Client: CHC Australia
The subject site was originally part of the former Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CS&IR) Dickson Experimental Station to charter agricultural research in areas of national importance such as the growth of opium poppy to provide a source for medications during WWII. By the 1950’s Canberra’s population grew significantly and the CSIRO facility relocated to Ginninderra and part of the grounds was redeveloped as a new primary school in 1960. The school closed in 1988 as a result of declining student numbers and the site remained largely unused for many years notwithstanding several attempts by the ACT Government to rezone the site for other uses. Little happened until 2011 when CHC Australia was introduced as a potential developer for the site on the back of recent successful projects that were similar in scale and intent including City Edge in O’Connor and Eclipse in Bruce. Through a sustained and extensive consultative charrette process with the Downer Community Association (DCA) and broader Downer Community, lead by CHC and AMC, , various development parameters were agreed in relation to the redevelopment of the site including a maximum yield of 300 dwellings, a maximum height of 4 storeys, the provision of townhouses and more downsizer friendly residential options, preservation / staged replacement of a number of Heritage Trees, retention of the Old School Courtyard and supporting rather than competing with the Dower Local Shops. The success of this consultation lead to strong support from the DCA and a Territory Plan Variation process was commenced in 2012 and ultimately approved in 2015.
AMC has since been commissioned to develop the initial masterplan concept into a detailed proposal for the eastern and central portions of this substantial site which will include the staged construction of 160 residential dwellings including 37 townhouses and 123 apartments across 6 buildings in an attractive landscaped setting. Thereafter it is anticipated that a retirement village will be developed to the western portion of the 3.2Ha site.
Key features of the development include: