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Developer’s request the ‘most arrogant’

14 Dec 2014

Developer’s request the ‘most arrogant’ Image

A developer with the rights to build Australia’s biggest tower at 555 Collins St and over-shadow the Yarra is not satisfied and wants conditions over its form and quality removed.

Fragrance Mel-Vic (Collins) Pty Ltd has asked the State Government for the removal of three conditions that were imposed last year in an incorporated document to the planning scheme.

In discussing the City of Melbourne’s response to the planning department on the request on November 11, Cr Rohan Leppert labeled the application: “possibly the most arrogant request that we have ever looked at”.

Councillors were appalled last year when the Planning Minister Matthew Guy granted permission to build a 400m tower which would over-shadow  Southbank almost to City Rd.

Since then, Fragrance bought the site but now wants the three conditions specified in the incorporated document removed.  

One of the conditions was that the building had to be for commercial use but Fragrance now wants a mixed-use development to include residential.

Condition one reads: “The building must be iconic in nature and design, demonstrate a high degree of architectural merit, provide excellent public realm outcomes, and deliver high quality economic and environmentally sustainable offices.”

Cr Leppert said: “The request to change the incorporated document conditions are an absolute nonsense and our officers have gone one step further to recommend, just as we did back in early 2013, that this incorporated document be removed from the planning scheme entirely. It should never have been put there in the first place.”

Councillors voted unanimously to reject the request and, taking the matter further, also requested the removal of the over-shadowing exemption.

Cr Stephen Mayne said he had some sympathy for the developer should the rules be changed after the purchase but, he said, it should not have happened in the first place.

“There are a range of parties with a lot of questions to answer and I hope that the next planning minister will release some information so we can have a serious inquiry into how the hell this happened,” he said.

“And I certainly hope that the next minister takes our advice and withdraws the incorporated document, although I flag the obvious sovereign risk issue of an international investor who suddenly has the rules of the game changed on them.”

“This has been a sordid chapter the likes of which I hope we never see again,” he said.

The council’s planning chair, Cr Ken Ong, said the lesson for developers was to speak with the council and do their “due diligence”.

He said he could understand developers be confused with agents telling them that almost anything goes in Melbourne.

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