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Sturt St ‘shocker’ rejected

09 Jul 2015

Sturt St ‘shocker’ rejected Image

Planning Minister Richard Wynne has rejected a controversial 46-storey application for 248 Sturt St in Southbank.

The proposal for a 123-metre tower came under fire from City of Melbourne councillors at the Future Melbourne Committee on October 7 last year, with planning chair Cr Ken Ong labeling it a “shocker”.

The $80 million proposal was designed by Elenberg-Fraser and submitted by developer Hudson Conway, which is owned by racing identity Lloyd Williams.

In what was only his second rejection as planning minister, Mr Wynne denied a building permit based on the virtue of the tower’s design, excessive height and lack of appropriate setbacks.

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) described the proposal as “overwhelming” and said it failed to provide a satisfactory level of amenity for apartments.

“Overall, from a built perspective, the proposal is an overdevelopment of the site that will overwhelm the existing streetscape and impact upon the development potential of adjoining site,” the spokesperson said.

“Furthermore, it will unreasonably overshadow the Sturt St reserve, provides poor internal amenity and does not respond to the preferred built form for this area as outlined by the Melbourne Planning Scheme.”

“On the basis of the built form, internal amenity and the detrimental impact on the public realm, the proposal is not supported.”

The “saddle back” design of the building’s one and two-bedroom apartments came under particular scrutiny by the planning minister’s urban design officers.

They found some bedrooms only had access to natural light via a window positioned at the end of a corridor while others only had borrowed light from a deeply inset balcony or sunroom.

The developer’s attempt to build right up to the site’s boundary was also heavily scrutinised by DEWLP officers.

City of Melbourne councillors had unanimously opposed the proposal based on a report conducted by council planning officers, which described the tower as “overwhelming dominant and intimidating.”

Cr Ken Ong had described the 25,190 sqm proposal as a desperate attempt by the developer to bypass the City of Melbourne’s authority to adjudicate applications up to 25,000 sqm.

“I don’t know whether it’s the developer or it’s the architect that’s been pushing this sort of boundary to squeeze in as much as possible to get it over 25,000 sqm, ignore everyone and anyone living nearby,” he said.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle had also voiced his strong opposition to the proposal, stating that it was difficult to find a criterion that the building succeeded in.

“Height, massing, scale, internal configuration, sustainability, the amenity of the Arts Precinct, that the building should address the street, the overshadowing provisions and not least the aesthetic,”
he said.

“It fails miserably on all of those and I think it should be rejected vigorously.”

Developer Lloyd Williams was reported to have told The Age via text message from Europe that it was “bad luck” that the building had not been approved and stated he would “look forward elsewhere in our great city Melbourne.”

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