By Laurence Dragomir, Urban Melbourne
Welcome to 2018 and what promises to be another big year for planning and construction within the City of Melbourne.
With construction having only just started to kick into gear following the construction shutdown over the holiday period the focus of today’s column will be two controversial projects bookending the CBD.
The first cab off the rank is developer PDG’s revised design proposal for the Munro site adjacent to the Queen Victoria Market.
This follows on from a planning application being submitted for the City of Melbourne-backed development which includes frontages to Therry St, Queen St and the rear of Franklin St.
The application is with the Planning Minister’s office after Minister Richard Wynne imposed a height limit over the site which was originally intended to host a 196-metre tower.
In the revised design, PDG’s design team have conceived a kidney-shaped tower of approximately 40-storeys which conforms to the recently imposed 125 metre height limit.
Under initial plans a smaller adjacent building to the main tower consisted of an affordable housing contingent, which should include approximately 56 spaces. A taller, more discernible building has now been included across the revised design to the west of the main residential building.
PDG has indicated that it hopes to launch the tower toward the tail end of 2018.
Another controversial proposal which surfaced prior to Christmas and one which has already drawn plenty of criticism, is the new Apple Flagship store at Fed Square.
The two-storey building has been designed by UK based Foster + Partners to better connect Fed Square to the Yarra and would involve the demolition of the existing Yarra Building currently occupied by the Koori Trust.
Much of the controversy has revolved around the State Government effectively handing over public land to a large global company like Apple, diluting the notion of Federation Square as a public space.
Additionally, the proposal has drawn criticism for the lack of transparency and consultation through the approvals process, with accusations of Apple receiving special treatment in circumventing proper planning protocol.
Should the Apple proposal proceed, the Yarra Building would become the first building to be demolished since Federation Square first opened in 2002.
The square’s western shard will also be demolished to allow for the construction of a station entry for the new Town Hall Station as part of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel. A new design for a reconstructed shard / station entry has yet to be released.