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Approval paves way for a main street

11 Feb 2016

Approval paves way for a main street Image

By Sean Car

Could the approval of Southbank’s largest development project be the beginning of an evolution of our suburb?

Planning Minister Richard Wynne recently approved the long-awaited development of Southbank’s biggest gaping hole along Kavanagh St, which will see six towers built on what has long been a car park.

The $1.5 billion project will deliver four apartment towers, one commercial tower and one hotel and serviced apartment tower to the two-hectare site.

However, it’s the amenity factor of this project that provides our growing community with much more excitement than the buildings themselves.

While recent movement by the City of Melbourne to speed up the City Rd master plan is of great importance to our suburb, it still is (and always will be) a busy arterial, which many would argue will never have a relaxed local vibe.

Thanks to this latest approval, Kavanagh St’s potential to become our “main street” and fill this void in our community is enormous.

As part of its proposal, Malaysian developer PJ Development will construct a 2770 sqm park, a childcare centre and a large public square along Kavanagh St.

There will also be more than 10,000 sqm of retail space, which will include a new supermarket, food court and retail outlets.

The City Rd master plan’s cycling strategy has also earmarked redirecting cyclists along Balston St and Kavanagh St to connect up with Southbank Boulevard, which is also the subject of major open space plans.

More than 1000 bicycle spaces will be provided as part of the project as well as 894 car parks.

Southbank Residents Association president Tony Penna said, given the site’s close proximity to the Boyd Community Hub and the future Boyd Park, it had all the makings of becoming Southbank’s central spine.

“With its grassed footpaths and tree-lined streets, Kavanagh St already provides a suburban feel through its tranquility, despite being considered inner-city living,” he said.

“This development, coupled with the highly-anticipated Boyd open space and affordable living development, collectively, if planned properly, has the potential to create a real sense of the Southbank city centre.”

“If the two parks can provide the feeling of being connected, then that will add to making Kavanagh St a truly magical and convenient place to live.”

The December approval took Mr Wynne’s total of approved developments to more than $5 billion – a record year for the inner city.

PJ Development changed its original plans submitted earlier in 2015 to comply with the State Government’s interim CBD controls, which were introduced in June.

Design changes included increasing setbacks and changing building angles to minimise overshadowing. The six towers will range from 145m to 226m high with rooftop gardens.

“This project shows how our new CBD controls are ensuring that developments provide liveable and healthy spaces and communities for people to call home,” Mr Wynne said.

While describing it as a great project overall, Mr Penna said Southbank Residents Association was still concerned about the height as well as the development’s lack of three-bedroom apartments.

“The downside is the height these buildings are proposed to be, but legal under the new C232 amendment however, more disturbing, is the oversight of any three bedroom apartments,” he said.

“Southbank wants to be family friendly and should be a family friendly place to live but it severely lacks resources and infrastructure for families.”

“Southbank Residents Association will be lobbying strongly to get family-sized apartments included with the final tower designs.”

The news comes after City of Melbourne councillors gave their unanimous approval to the development at the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on December 8 last year.

At the time, Cr Stephen Mayne said: “This is a five-acre bombsite. Anything to get things moving would be good.”

“At 360,000 sqm it will be one of the six or seven biggest precincts in Melbourne along with some of the big ones in Docklands and Crown.”

Cr Ken Ong said: “This site has been sitting around for as long as I can remember as an open piece of car parking and we know that using open space for parking is not a good use of sites in the City of Melbourne.”

“Finally we will see something happen there and finally we will see facilities provided for the rest of Southbank, which are currently missing some of what is being proposed.”

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