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Not the park we had hoped for

06 Oct 2016

Not the park we had hoped for Image

The City of Melbourne formally announced last month that it had reached a new commercial agreement for the redevelopment of the JH Boyd School site.

It comes as disappointing news to the Southbank community, which has been lobbying council over past months to turn the entire site into a park following the termination of its previous contract with developer Mackie.

The City of Melbourne has now entered into a new agreement with developer Cairo Melbourne Pty Ltd for a residential and commercial development to be built on a portion of site behind the Boyd Community Hub.

The Lord Mayor said that Cairo Melbourne Pty Ltd had agreed to pay $15.5 million to the City of Melbourne for the land.

“We have negotiated a better overall design outcome in terms of open space. The original building design will be modified to ensure that views of the heritage library are protected,” he said.

While many residents will feel disappointed by the news, the announcement hasn’t come as a shock after council passed a special resolution at the June 15 Future Melbourne Committee meeting recommending a move back to the open market.

Cr Ken Ong told Southbank Local News in July that the city had forecast a long-term economic stimulus from the Mackie development and that council, would therefore, most likely support a new commercial arrangement.

Southbank Residents Association president Tony Penna slammed the decision, saying that, while it was not unexpected, it was still disappointing in many aspects.

“There was a real opportunity for council to provide some desperately needed green open space to the community,” he said.

“What makes it worse is that the council has now reaped a $7 million windfall from the whole process from terminating the contract through to finding a new prospective buyer.”

“None of that windfall will be spent on Southbank because of a council policy stating that all land sales will go into the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) fund.”

“The residents have waited five years for the open space that was promised to us as part of that contract. The council gets $7 million and we get nothing. The only winner here is council.”

Cr Doyle said the proposed development at 229 City Rd would include improvements to the public realm, apartments, retail, affordable housing and open space.

“The new agreement reinforces our commitment to transform the former school site into a key civic centre and provide much needed open space for Southbank residents, workers and visitors,” he said.

“Retail shops will be located on the ground level with 200 residential apartments in the floors above.”

“20 per cent of the development, 46 apartments, will be affordable housing. The apartments will comply with liveable housing guidelines which mean they will be safe, comfortable and easy to access for people of all ages and abilities.”

Cr Ong said that, while it wasn’t the open space many had hoped for, the project would benefit from works being instigated through the City Road Master Plan.

“Improved connections will be made under Kings Way, opening up the possibility for this area to connect with the open space along the City Rd frontage,” he said.

“The developer has agreed that the materials used should be in keeping with the heritage character of the library. It has also agreed to investigate sustainable options for the roof of the new building, including solar panels or a roof garden.”

Council will consider the proposed sale before the end of 2016. The temporary park at Boyd will remain in place on the site in the interim.

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