By Meg Hill
The City of Melbourne has given the green light to a controversial hotel development in the CBD’s famous Hosier Lane.
The application outlined an eight-story addition to an existing three-story heritage building in the lane. Twenty-seven objections were received by the council after the application was made public.
Although the council heard from a number of objectors, and some councillors expressed reservations, the $12 million development was given unanimous approval subject to a number of conditions at the Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting on July 7.
The development, which includes ground floor detail and 36 serviced apartments at 7-9 Hosier Lane, was submitted by Parasol Investment Company.
Chair of the council’s planning portfolio Cr Nicholas Reece said he understood why the application was controversial but supported it with amendments.
“While we love our Yarra River, it’s fair to say that we don’t have some of the grand natural assets that some of the other cities in Australia have, so very much our laneways and our street art are an integral part of how the world sees Melbourne and how we see ourselves,” Cr Reece said.
“Hosier Lane is part of the DNA of the city, part of the fabric of the city, part of the vibe of Melbourne.”
“So, it’s not surprising that when an application comes before council, and it is quite a substantial one right in the middle of Hosier Lane, that it is going to get a lot of attention by councillors.”
Cr Reece commended the retention of the heritage façade on the bottom three levels of the proposed development and the maintaining of street art.
However, he said that the “combination of bulk and height” of the proposed building would have a detrimental impact, and it would need to be narrowed or lowered.
The council imposed conditions on the approval of the development which included further setbacks of the additional levels, further inclusion of art or murals and some redesign to respond to features of the heritage building below.
Objections were sent to the council from nearby residents and business representatives.
Flinders St resident Lisa Vuillermi raised concerns that included overshadowing and the brightly designed façade of the building addition.
A representative of business Bar Tini, located next to the proposed development, expressed that the operations of the business could disturb residential neighbours.
Ross Deam, the owner of a business at 167 Flinders St, objected to the proposal on the grounds that it did not fit into the heritage precinct and would detract from it.
Cr Rohan Leppert said he supported the proposal, with conditions.
“No doubt this is going to be hotly contested and I would not be at all surprised if this were a matter that isn’t finalised today,” he said.
“The thing about Hosier Lane though is that street art is ephemeral it is exceptionally difficult to apply planning controls to character and ‘the vibe’.”
“That laneway changes every single day and as government we have to be conscious that the more we try and lock in a particularly style sensibility or character the faster we are going towards probably regulating the space out of it being cool.”
“What everyone can agree on is that the character of this laneway is unique, it needs to be taken care of, but we also need to adhere to the Melbourne Planning Scheme.”