Support for monster tower

City of Melbourne councillors have supported the construction of a 61-storey, 196m student accommodation tower in Franklin St.

The November 14 Future Melbourne Committee meeting was told 2000 people could occupy the building on a working day.

“That makes it as big as a Melbourne suburb and to have just seven car parking spots and 250 bicycle spaces, it complies with the direction the city is going in,” planning chair Cr Nicholas Reece said.

“And its proximity to fantastic transport links, including the Metro, is noted but I would have thought that perhaps we could have done a little bit better around bicycle spots.”

The tower at 97 Franklin St exceeds the plot ratio of 18:1 defined in the planning scheme, with developer Scape being awarded floor area uplift (FAU) to 23.22:1  due to commercial office space and a through-link laneway being defined as “public benefit”.

The building will contain 734 student beds in 615 rooms as well as 142 “city living” units to be used for short-term accommodation associated with the student accommodation on the site.

The council’s urban design department criticised the design of the tower: “There are concerns in this project however that difference in tone or pigment from facade to facade is insufficient to avoid visual monotony.”

But Denton Corker Marshall architect Graham Cragy defended the design to councillors at the November 4 meeting.

He said: “Our designs are carefully crafted, creating gestures that are easy to read in their surroundings.”

“We noted that the built environment that has proliferated in the vicinity of Elizabeth St and Franklin St over the recent period is visually complicated, messy and a reflection of developers and architects trying to one-up each other.”

Former council planner Daniel Soussan fielded questions on behalf of his new employer Tract Consultants.

Councillors voted unanimously to recommend that the planning minister approve the application.

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