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Amendment to be reviewed

17 Oct 2011

The City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne committee has bowed to public pressure, admitting at its October meeting that Amendment C171: Southbank needs reviewing.

The committee has requested an independent panel be introduced, to confront the many issues arising from the amendment.

Issues surrounding height restrictions of buildings and space restrictions between high-rise towers sparked the majority of interest.

The committee has resolved to request the panel from the Minister for Planning due to the high number of submissions the amendment received when it was put up for public exhibition.

The committee said it wouldn’t assess the public submissions.

Councillor Ken Ong believes it was to be expected that the matter take this path, saying: “It is standard procedure under the Planning and Environment Act when submissions have been received from the exhibition of a proposed amendment to request the Minister for Planning refer the amendment to an independent panel he appoints to consider the amendment and the submissions received.”

When the amendment was exhibited for public comment between April and May this year it received a staggering 224 comments, questions and suggestions.

There were clearly restless residents within the viewing gallery at the Future Melbourne meeting and a representative from Urbis made a presentation on behalf of Rothe Lowman, about the specific issues.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle stressed to all that the council was not making a judgement on any issues within the amendment, rather passing that task onto the independent panel.

Of the 224 recommendations put to the committee, 170 were identical and concerning the change in height restrictions in Southbank village.

The proposed change would see the current 14-metre height restriction lifted to 40 metres (with a 30-metre exception off Dodd St).

While many residents are concerned about the relaxation of height restrictions in the southern part of Southbank, others, such as architectural consultant Urbis, suggested the exception of Dodd St was too constricting for architectural purposes.

The amendment is part of the 2010 Southbank Strategic plan, which outlines how Southbank’s residential population will grow from its current 12,000 to 74,000 over the next 30 years.

Southbank residents groups president Joe Bagnara, who comments on this issue in his column within this edition, said residents were concerned about building heights and lack of space between buildings.

“We believe C171 is a disaster and the removal of height limitations is an opportunity for developers to go unchecked in their quest to make money for their directors and shareholders,” Mr Bagnara said.

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