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“Complicated” process ends positively for Arts Precinct

09 Jun 2020

“Complicated” process ends positively for Arts Precinct Image

By David Schout

The first four floors of new developments in Southbank’s Arts Precinct will need to be designated for the creative industries after a “long and complicated” process to amend the Melbourne Planning Scheme.

All new developments will need to comply with the now permanent regulations on the Sturt St spine, which have been temporarily in place for the past two years.

Specifically, a building’s first four storeys will be required to provide space for arts, creative, and cultural uses.

This may include performance space, rehearsal space, galleries, workshops, event spaces, studios or office space for creative institutions.

City of Melbourne planning chair Nicholas Reece said the designation of creative uses for lower portions of buildings was not something that had been done by the council before.

“The City of Melbourne is very lucky indeed to have the Southbank Arts Precinct, which has Sturt St running along its spine,” Cr Reece said.

“There are some 21 arts organisations which are located throughout that precinct and many of them are household names that have produced some of the most extraordinary work in the creative sector in our country. This planning scheme amendment will further secure that precinct and only further enhance its extraordinary reputation.”

But while there was unanimous support for the move at Town Hall, the council’s chair of arts said the protracted process could have been avoided. Cr Rohan Leppert said while he was “delighted” Amendment C323 was finally ready to be approved, it had been in the system for “far too long”.

“The pain, the cost and the labour that went into doing that properly was extraordinary,” he said.

Cr Leppert said Minister for Planning Richard Wynne had handballed planning authority status to the council after implementing interim controls in March 2018 responding to a number of building

The council and Creative Victoria then held two separate panel hearings for what Cr Leppert called a “very straightforward amendment” and by its conclusion, the outcome was almost identical.

“The amount of resources we poured into this process, which ended up being a very long, litigious, difficult process, was quite extraordinary. It really is unfortunate how long and complicated this process was, because if you compare the controls we’re looking at today with the interim controls that were adopted by the minister all those months and years ago, the meaningful changes between the two documents are actually negligible.”

Beyond the process, Cr Leppert said it was a “really interesting precedent” set and was surprised there wasn’t more push-back from private developers

“The outcome is great, I’m really delighted that we’re here. It would’ve been fantastic of course if this happened years ago but for what it is, it will still be able to generate more arts and creative uses inside the Arts Precinct and that’s a fantastic thing … it will help to preserve some of what makes the Southbank Arts Precinct such a special part of our city.”

The amendment will go back to the Minister for Planning for approval •

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