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Southbank Residents’ Association

05 Mar 2019

Could this be a win for common sense?

We have just learned that the planning minister has rejected Crown’s application to extend its planning permit for One Queensbridge Street which was due to expire in the first week of March.

As you will recall, this was controversial because it violated so many aspects of the then, newly-released, planning scheme. But worse, there was no consultation with the public or even the City of Melbourne.

We woke one morning to read the newspaper and learn that the Premier had decided to approve this development as being of “state significance”, which was unprecedented that such a commercial development was approved under this banner.

Our local member, Martin Foley, also a Minister in Daniel Andrews’ Labor government was also opposed to the development, but at the time cited he was merely one voice in his cabinet and was unable to influence the outcome.

Owing to this, while one can’t help be cynical and assume there were back room deals to get this approved. After all, Crown is also a donor to the Labor Party. I can’t but wonder what might have transpired between the parties before the application to extend was rejected.

It would not surprise me if there are other issues at play and we may see something else transpire in the not too distant future.

However, since the original application was approved there has been many changes in the property landscape and I assume the government understood the commercial reality that if it was to approve an extension, then there would be a high likelihood that commencement may not have happened during that extension either and the government, council and residents needed some certainty.

In any case, I believe this rejection will now be a massive win for preserving the heritage of the Queensbridge Hotel. In the recent Southbank Heritage Review, the Queensbridge Hotel was identified for its heritage value and a heritage overlay was applied to the site.

However, that could not be retrospective and, since there was an approved application it meant that the overlay could only apply should the application expire.

I will be looking into the implications of this rejection and the impacts on the heritage overlay.

The big question from this rejection is how council will now fund the civic works and upgrades for Queensbridge Square and stage three of Southbank Boulevard upgrade as the funding was coming from the community benefit package as part of the Crown development.

I guess there was already a plan prior to Crown applying for its development.

For now, we just need to watch this space and see what the next move by the developers may be.

The Southbank Residents Association was very active with rallying the community and lobbying the government with regard to this atrocious application.

However, without members our organisation has no voice. If you are not yet a member of the Southbank Residents Association, we would certainly welcome your support. You can sign up via our website at southbankresidents.org.au

 

Tony Penna

President

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