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Thumbs up for Haig St

12 Nov 2015

Thumbs up for Haig St Image

By Jack Hayes

The Future Melbourne Committee and Southbank Residents Group were at odds last month following a proposed new tower at 65-71 Haig St, Southbank.

Southbank Residents Group president Tony Penna objected to the 142m development at the October 6 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, which councillors ultimately supported unanimously.

Mr Penna said the new proposal was solely in the pursuit of profit and could potentially turn that area of Southbank into a “ghetto”.

“There are all these small little parcels of land that have got these tall pencil-like buildings that are going up, with all these predominantly one bedroom apartments being built in them and many of them with compromised living space, light, etc,” he said.

Developed by Sunvale Development and designed by Fender Katsalidis, the 55-storey proposal would incorporate 298 one and two bedroom apartments, 264 bike racks and 73 car parks.

Planning officers had raised “significant concerns regarding the proposed height and the layout of some of the apartments,” but presented alternative conditions for councillors to consider.

Councillors supported officers’ recommendations for a reduction in overall height to 125m and a revised floor layout of two bedroom apartments to reduce the “length and narrowness of the space providing borrowed light to the bedroom.”

However, Mr Penna said the lack of three bedroom apartments, not only for this application, but also for a swath of recent proposals, concerned the Southbank Residents Group.

“We need diversity in our neighborhoods, and that includes families,” Mr Penna said.

Although raising significant concerns with some aspects of the application, councillors quashed Mr Penna’s objection to the development.

Councillor Stephen Mayne said the Future Melbourne Committee had never wavered in the face of inappropriate planning.

“This is the City of Melbourne drawing a line in the sand and really highlighting the internal amenity. Normally it is set back and height and other issues,” he said.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle argued that there was nothing wrong with pursuit of profit.

“That’s how businesses make their way, they pursue profits, I wouldn’t have that as a negative,” he said.

“I don’t want us to descend in this forum into a forum of catastrophism of they’re all one bedroom, they’re all borrowed light because, in fact, when that happens we object to them.”

“We try to impose conditions that either bring them within acceptability or we outright oppose. That has been the singular record of this council and the council before,” he said.

While taking Mr Penna’s concerns into consideration, Cr Arron Wood said the Haig St site was in urgent need of activation.

“I take Tony’s comments about the amenity but this is exactly the sort of site that we want to see developed right next to a very busy road,” he said.

“Having these sort of buildings up against the road like this can actually shield a suburb from a busy road like this so I’m not that pessimistic about this building.”

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