Boyd site gets green light from government

By David Schout

A contested 42-storey development at the western edge of Boyd Park has been approved by the Minister for Planning, paving the way for work to begin on the site that currently houses a public basketball court and pop-up orchard.

The “Boyd Village” development, a partnership between developer PDG and the City of Melbourne, was finally approved by the state government in May.

It will feature 40 affordable housing units and almost 1000 sqm of community facilities, among 394 private apartments.

Construction on the former J H Boyd Girl’s School site, which residents have overwhelmingly opposed due to the removal of scarce open space, was set to welcome a “vibrant mixed-use vertical village”.

“Southbank needs more community facilities and this project will also help to reduce the shortage of affordable homes within the City of Melbourne,” Deputy Lord Mayor and council’s planning chair Nicholas Reece said.

“This shows what can be achieved by working together collaboratively with the private sector to deliver great outcomes for our community – while also creating local jobs and stimulating our economic recovery.”

Development on the site has long been controversial. The council originally purchased the land – which includes the Boyd Community Hub, Boyd Park and the development site – in 2007, with plans to sell off a portion for development to fund the creation of Boyd Park.

Multiple deals with a previous developer, Mackie, and later Cairo, fell through, and Boyd Park was built and funded by the council in the meantime.

In 2019, the council sold the 1843 sqm portion of Boyd Park to developer PDG for $16.5 million. As part of the deal, PDG agreed to deliver a range of community benefits in its proposal.

In December 2020 councillors unanimously endorsed the planning application, despite 128 submitters who overwhelmingly opposed the site.

As one of Australia’s most densely-populated suburbs, local objectors decried the removal of much-loved community space.

Southbank Residents’ Association president Tony Penna told Southbank News that while the site’s redevelopment remained a sore point, the group was pleased it could help shape final plans.

“The residents of Southbank are disappointed any development was given approval on our sacred green open space,” he said.

“While the sale and development of that section of land was always planned, SRA is proud of its efforts with highlighting the community’s love and need of that space and our success with reducing the footprint of the final site and obtaining almost 1000 sqm of community space within the development.”

The council has said a new basketball court would be located in the Kings Way undercroft as part of the City Rd Master Plan, something Mr Penna hoped would happen in a “timely manner”.

It is not yet known what community facilities will occupy the bottom two levels of the new development, with a pending community consultation process expected to help inform the vision.

Construction of Boyd Village at 132-136 Kavanagh St is expected to get underway between late 2021 and early 2022 •

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