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In support of low-rise

A “gross overdevelopment”

08 Apr 2016

A “gross overdevelopment” Image

City of Melbourne councillors lined up to express their frustration last month after they had no other choice but to approve a 20-storey development on Wells Place in Southbank.

The matter, which went before councillors at the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on March 16, drew a hostile response from councillors.

Despite receiving 33 written objections and obvious distain from all councillors, developer Headland Properties was issued with a permit to construct a slender 66-metre tower on a 202 sqm laneway site.

In what was an amended application, the City of Melbourne was initially forced to grant the developer a permit for a 17-storey tower in 2014 having taken it to VCAT on a number of concerns relating to safety and Victorian safe design standards.

However, after VCAT ruled that the Melbourne Planning Scheme did not place any restrictions on the developer, a mediated outcome has since led to an amended permit with what Cr Cathy Oke called “a whole lot of conditions”.

Key changes recommended by council’s planning officers included the provision of two apartments per floor (levels five and above) and the introduction of one-metre deep balconies south side of the tower to boost internal amenity.

The building will comprise 32 apartments (two, two-bedroom and 30 one-bedroom), 14 car parks, 16 bike spaces and, according to councillors, a less than sufficient two-metre setback from its southern boundary.

Cr Rohan Leppert described it as one of the worst planning outcomes that had he’d ever encountered in the City of Melbourne, but said council had no choice but to support it.

“I think this a pretty shocking planning outcome for the City of Melbourne and it has to be in my top five or top three worst planning outcomes for the City of Melbourne, which I’m nevertheless supporting,” he said.

“Given VCAT’s history on this one it’s with no great pleasure that I think we’re left in no other position but to support this but I finish as I started by saying that I think this is quite a terrible outcome for planning in the City of Melbourne.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley lined up behind Cr Beverley Pinder Mortimer, Cr Arron Wood and Cr Cathy Oke to slam the proposal, labeling it a “gross overdevelopment”.

“To be quite frank I’m very reluctant to support this because it really is a gross overdevelopment on a handkerchief size piece of land that will not contribute to a good tapestry of the street,” she said.

Cr Stephen Mayne was last to weigh in on the discussion stating that, while council had done everything it could to prevent the development from going ahead, it had been “boxed in by VCAT”.

“I wonder if we should all hold our noses while we vote, I think this is the least emphatic unanimous vote I’ve ever been involved in,” he said.

“It’s almost like putting a dirty pair of socks in the laundry basket but clearly the sentiment is clear here.”

“You you have to think about what the outcome will be at VCAT and spending ratepayers money at VCAT and on balance I think we’ve got to the right position but I think we’ve made it abundantly clear that no one’s happy about it.”


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