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“A complete shocker of a development”

08 Dec 2016

“A complete shocker of a development” Image

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle expressed his strong opposition to developer Hayball’s 20-storey proposal for 135 Sturt St at last month’s Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting.

In positive news for the Southbank community, City of Melbourne councillors unanimously objected to the proposal on November 22 with the Lord Mayor opposing it “in the strongest possible terms”.

“This development is an absolute shocker. It is inappropriate in every way for the streetscape of that street,” he said.

“This is a street I know very well. I travel along it coming to work on the Number 1 tram or I drive past it every single day.”

“It breaches every aesthetic that we wish for Sturt St and I want to oppose it in the strongest possible terms.”

The matter will now be referred to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne as the responsible authority. Mr Wynne told Southbank Local News earlier last month that the local community had made its voice very well heard.

“I’ve certainly received very significant representation from residents who are living there in some of the lower scale stuff,” he said. “I’m very cognisant of the issues that they’re raising with me.”

“I’m just not in a position to take that any further at the moment.  But I am very aware of their representations and, of course, from my colleague Martin Foley who is not shy in putting a view forward.”

Council’s planning officers recommended objecting to the proposal in its report, stating that it was an overdevelopment of the site and would overwhelm the precinct by virtue of its design and excessive height.  

Council’s objection follows months of campaigning by the local community to protect the low-rise area of Southbank Village from overdevelopment in its neighbourhood.

Led by the Save Dodds St lobby group, council received 58 submissions from local residents objecting to the proposal, while local Member for Albert Park Martin Foley has also expressed his opposition.   

Developer Hayball, which is also the architect and owner of the building, is proposing to construct a 67-metre residential tower in an area with a 40-metre discretionary height control.

Save Dodds St convener Eileen Vamos was one of six submitters who spoke at last month’s FMC meeting expressing her disappointment with the developer.

“They (Hayball) have been in Sturt St for about 14 years. I admire their success but not what they are proposing here,” she said.

Southbank Residents’ Association president Tony Penna said the proposal threatened to destroy Southbank Village.

“It’s a massive overdevelopment and we can’t even comprehend how a developer or an architect with the credibility of Hayball could present something like this,” he said.

“If this is approved by the minister this will be a very sad day for Southbank Village. In fact I almost think we could say this is goodbye to the village as we know it. It will be finished.”

Wells St resident Shaun Evans said the development would compromise the State Government’s vision to transform Sturt St into a creative spine as part of its plans for the Arts Precinct.

“The Arts Blueprint states a desire for Sturt St to become and Arts Spine as a destination in itself. There are so few commercial spaces left to achieve this vision.”

Cr Rohan Leppert said that while it was fantastic that the council was standing alongside the local community very strongly there was a very real chance that application could end up at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

“I think we have to be aware that there is a very decent chance that the tribunal would permit the application with two, three or four storeys taken off,” he said.

“67-metres above 40-metres is not out of the realms of possibility when you consider other planning permits in Southbank.”

The local community had been hoping that the State Government’s planning scheme amendment C270 would provide Southbank Village with stronger protection.

However, as reported on page 1, C270 was officially published in the government gazette on November 23 and existing discretionary controls in special character areas, including Southbank Village, are to remain.

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