Crown’s heritage headache

Meg Hill

The City of Melbourne’s proposed changes to heritage sites in Southbank may cause further hassle for Crown if it doesn’t soon submit mandatory planning details for 1 Queensbridge St.

Planning Scheme Amendment C305 proposes 1-7 Queensbridge St – where Crown plans to build the country’s tallest skyscraper – be added to the heritage overlay.

Crown has a fast-approaching deadline to submit planning details to the state government for the skyscraper, which the government deemed of “state significance” – approving the project at three times the size normally allowed in return for a $100 million public benefits package.

The public benefits offered by Crown and project partner Schiavello include upgrades to Sandridge Bridge, Queensbridge Square and Southbank Promenade.

The deal between the state government and Crown stipulated that construction needed to start within two years of March 2, 2017 – a time allowance quickly disappearing.

As reported in the April edition of Southbank Local News, former City of Melbourne councillor and Crown Resorts shareholder Stephen Mayne said he highly doubted construction would start before deadline.

An update in The Age on May 27 noted that neither the City of Melbourne nor the Victorian Government had received any applications in relation to the project.

Any changes to Crown’s plans would appear unlikely, as an extension can be easily sought under its current planning exemption. However, an extended delay in delivering the project and its associated public benefits might encourage the government of the day into forcing Crown into rethinking its ambition.

“It would be at the absolute discretion of the Planning Minister to grant an extension,” said City of Melbourne’s chair of heritage and deputy chair of planning, Cr Rohan Leppert.

Cr Leppert said a heritage overlay would not apply retrospectively, but would apply to extensions or new planning permits.

In the event that Crown misses its construction deadline, it could be forced to deal with a string of red tape at the site.

Crown would require a permit from City of Melbourne for practically any work at the site, including:

  • Demolishing or removing any part of the existing building;
  • Constructing any part of a new building;
  • Externally altering the existing building;
  • Constructing or carrying out works; and
  • Constructing or displaying a sign.

The address is currently home to the site of the out-of-use Queen’s Bridge Hotel, which was known as Fall’s Bridge Hotel before 1914.

The C305 Amendment is open for viewing and submissions can be made online until June 29.

For more information or to make a submission to the proposed changes visit participate.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AmendmentC305

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