Council is where the action is

With the industry still coming to terms with the new planning controls within the central city the spate of applications has subsided somewhat.

The main point of interest lies with the City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee who convened to consider the merits of five applications – four of which were referred to them by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

The applications were for Haileybury College’s city campus at 383-405 King St, a 55-storey tower at 65-71 Haig St, a 56-storey tower at 32-44 Flinders St and twin 79-storey towers at 346-376 Queen St.

Haileybury College’s plans gained support from council with the committee resolving to issue a Notice of Decision to Grant Permit. The application lodged in June sought approval for refurbishment works to the existing building for use as an education centre, comprising of an Early Learning Facility (ages 3 and 4), Junior School (Years Prep to Year 4) and Senior School (Years 9 to 12).

The application received 62 objections during the advertising period relating predominantly to traffic concerns, with council citing key issues for consideration such as the appropriateness of the proposed use in its location, proposed student numbers, potential amenity impacts for residents, proposed signage and car parking, traffic and access arrangements.

65-71 Haig St is a project that was covered by Urban Melbourne in April. The 55-storey 142 metre tower designed by Fender Katsalidis and abutting the West Gate Freeway has received a mixed review from council which is concerned about the appropriateness of its height and the layout of some apartments.

Despite this council was of the view that their concerns could be addressed via conditions of permit to reduce the overall height to a maximum of 125 metres and via an improved internal layout to selected apartments within the tower.

With 32-44 Flinders St already reduced down to 56 levels and 181 metres – down from an initial height of 65-storeys and 212 meters – the planning officer’s report to the Future Melbourne Committee recommends that council object to the proposal on the grounds of height, plot ratio, setbacks and internal amenity to apartments and that the proposal represents an over development of the site.

This is based on a plot ratio of 30:1 across the site, despite the application not being affected by Amendment C262 which calls for a plot ratio of 24:1 and setbacks of five metres to street frontages, or the proposal sitting within a height control area. 32-44 Flinders Street’s overshadowing of Birrarung Marr is also a cause of concern to council.

And finally, the twin tower proposal at 346-376, known as Queens Place has been designed as dual schemes – an OLS (Obstacle Limitation Surface) conforming scheme of 68-storeys (206 and 209 metres respectively) and an alternate non-conforming scheme of 79-storeys (246 and 249 metres). The applicants submitted revised designs on September 3 with the following key changes:

  • Minimum five metre setbacks provided from the proposed towers to all street frontages;The core of Tower 1 has shifted approximately four metres to the east;
  • Ground level escalators have shifted to allow for improved public realm outcomes;
  • Increase in active uses adjacent to LaTrobe St;
  • Revision of A’Beckett Street connection to plaza and shifting of airlock location; and
  • Increase chamfered setback to LaTrobe St podium at levels 3 and 4 to open views to Welsh Church.

The proposal received a unanimous vote of support from the City of Melbourne, with the final decision to be made by the Planning Minister.

An application to penetrate the OLS will need to be made to aviation authorities in order to proceed with the 79-storey twin design.

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