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What’s behind the lights?

Big tick for Promenade park, but development concerns remain

11 Nov 2020

Big tick for Promenade park, but development concerns remain Image

By David Schout

While plans for a new 30-storey Riverside Quay development include a large public park along Southbank Promenade, Eureka Tower residents have expressed concern about overshadowing.

City of Melbourne councillors endorsed the 120-metre commercial development at the former home of ExxonMobil at 12 Riverside Quay, which would include 1000 sqm of green space with sweeping views out onto the Yarra River and the CBD.

Plans for the site, bought by Macau billionaire Keong Kuong Loi in 2016, would also include improved pedestrian links at the edges of the site, which the council’s planning chair Nicholas Reece said was “particularly welcome”.

But some residents at Eureka Tower expressed concern about the daylight impact of the development, which would be set back by around 20 metres.

Many affected residents submitted their concerns to the council while lawyers representing the owners’ corporation (OC) at Eureka Tower said the evidence regarding the daylight impacts of the proposal was insufficient.

Cr Reece said the lack of consultation with residents, which the developer was not required to do in this case, was “a matter of some regret to me as a councillor”.

However, he said the overall plans for the site would benefit the local community.

“It’s not every day, in fact it’s not even every year, that a 1000 sqm new public open space is put before us as councillors, and certainly one not on a piece of land that’s worth over $25 million,” he said at the October 13 Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting.

He said the council was “excited” about new inner-city parks, which included the Market St park in the CBD and Seafarers Rest Park at Northbank.

“I want to see us deliver a world-class, award-winning park here on the south bank of the river. And importantly I want to see that that new space is not considered in isolation, but that the park design is done in an integrated way so that that entire space becomes new publicly accessible space, which I think will add enormously to the amenity of this area and will be very much enjoyed by the residents of Southbank.”

Cr Rohan Leppert said he “empathised with residents” who had objected to the proposal, and admitted the “the application is a really complicated one for us”.

“If you look at the planning considerations before us and what’s on offer here — the new open space, the new energy-efficient design that’s being instigated and the much smarter and outward looking massing strategy for this building — I think this is going to be a much higher quality building. But obviously all those serious concerns do remain.”

Outgoing Cr Nicolas Frances Gilley, however, was less sympathetic to the concerns of Eureka Tower residents.

“The owners that have bought into the building that actually casts the largest [shadow] over the city by its very nature at over 300 metres tall, are concerned about the shadow of other buildings a third of its size,” he said.

“To not expect that part of Southbank to be developed and improved over time I think would be somewhat naive.”

Minister for Planning Richard Wynne will make the ultimate decision on whether the development is approved.

Push for taxi rank to be relocated

In somewhat better news for Eureka Tower residents, the council did, however, resolve to undertake a review of the Southgate Avenue taxi rank that has been a source of contention for a number of years.

The review would “determine the potential for relocation or other adjustments to reduce conflicts whilst maintaining appropriate service”.

Cr Reece said, “Council has heard the complaints of residents and people that use this area about that Riverside Quay taxi rank, and we will ensure that a review is undertaken. In my humble opinion, the taxi rank should be relocated to City Rd, or potentially down (towards) Freshwater Place, but I’ll wait and see what the detailed review puts forward in way of a recommendation. But I want to put it on the record that that Riverside Quay taxi rank should be moved.”

Cr Frances Gilley agreed.

“In my four years of being here it’s probably the most common conversation over any taxi rank in the city,” he said •


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