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Further scrutiny over approval

13 Jul 2017

Further scrutiny over approval Image

By Sean Car

More local residents have come out slamming the City of Melbourne’s approval of a 60-metre tower on Coventry St.

Councillors unanimously gave the nod to the new high-rise tower in April, which had already been the subject of 20 objections. News of the approval was reported in the May edition of Southbank Local News and the application was first reported in the March edition.

While located on the edge of Southbank’s low-rise precinct, its location in a 60-metre discretionary height control zone means that it is not subject to the same 40-metre mandatory limits, which are applicable on the other side of the street.

With neighbouring Sunday Apartments and Kings Domain (currently under construction) being of similar heights, the combination of precedents and discretionary limits meant councillors had no choice but to approve the application.

Some local residents, who have since caught news of the tower’s approval, took to the internet last month via the planningalerts.org.au website and provided their own scathing assessments of the decision.

Resident Cameron wrote: “The reason I purchased in Coventry St was due to it being in the low rise part of South Melbourne close to the Arts Precinct, which by its very nature was not meant to be high density.”

“Since the rezoning to Southbank it’s almost like the planners have gone overboard and turning it into another problem area.”

Many other commentators were disappointed to learn that the building had already been approved.

One resident addressed her objection directly to councillor Jackie Watts: “Please reject the application for 83-89 Coventry St as it will stick up like a sore thumb on that corner, ruining the lower-rise streetscape on the two blocks from Wells to Sturt streets.”

Cr Rohan Leppert was also directly addressed by one resident, who told the council’s assistant planning chair that laws needed to change in order to prevent such buildings from being approved. However, it was again this resident’s understanding that an approval had not yet been issued.

In his response alerting the resident that a permit had already been issued for the development, Cr Leppert said: “The permit was issued based on informally substituted plans, which responded to concerns raised by our urban planners over the original plans.”

“The final plans were for a building that was under the height control of 60m, and compliant with the 10m tower separation requirements of the scheme.”

Planning Minister Richard Wynne missed a golden opportunity in 2016 to protect special character zones such Southbank’s low-rise precinct with mandatory controls via amendment C270.

However, very little has changed and unfortunately for the local community it would appear we may continue to see more opportunistic developments such as this come before planners for approval.

 

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