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Tea tower proposed

11 May 2017

Tea tower proposed Image

Southbank’s historic Tea House could be dwarfed underneath a towering 39-storey hotel.

Developer R J International (Aust) Pty Ltd has submitted a proposal to Planning Minister Richard Wynne for a development on the Tea House’s adjoining site on the corner of Clarendon St and Normanby Rd.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) confirmed that an approval was yet to be issued as it had requested further information from the developer.

The $105 million development proposes a 145-metre tower comprising 38 three, four and five-bedroom apartments on its upper levels, as well as 312 hotel rooms across its first 23 floors. It will also feature one ground floor tenancy.

Constructed in 1887, the Robur Tea Building is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and Heritage Victoria must ultimately approve any works impacting the site.

While the Tea House building itself will remain intact under the proposal, its southern lift shaft, which was added onto the original building, is not heritage listed and will be demolished if the application is approved.

Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) president Tony Penna said the development would result in a poor outcome for the historic site, but he conceded that the proposal was not in breach of any planning regulations.

“What a shame. What a disappointment that will be but the sad thing is that, based on the plans that I have seen, the developer is going to tick every box,” he said.

“There is not going to be anything that it hasn’t complied with. The Tea House is destined to be lost in a sea of concrete. It’s going to lose its character.”

“From a technical perspective the heritage value is retained but from a character, atmosphere and community perspective it’s tokenistic.”

“It’s like putting the Tea House in your little display cabinet to say that’s what it looks like because that’s what will happen.”

The application is yet to go before the City of Melbourne for comment.

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