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Southbank snubbed on overshadowing

19 Sep 2014

Southbank snubbed on overshadowing Image

By Sean Car
The City of Melbourne has gone against its own planning advice to support overshadowing of the “sacrosanct” south bank of the Yarra, in return for open space in the CBD.  

Only a month after stating that rules preventing overshadowing the Yarra River were “sacrosanct,” Lord Mayor Robert Doyle concluded at the September 9 Future Melbourne Committee meeting that the Collins St development “carries the day.”

By voting 6-3, councillors gave their approval of an application submitted to the Planning Minister for a 300-metre skyscraper at 433-455 Collins St, which will cast a shadow onto Queensbridge Square in Southbank.

Under the deal, developer Cbus has agreed to provide the City of Melbourne with 1900 square metres of public open space for a park, in a “trade off” for council supporting increased height of its proposed tower.

While the decision marks the first time the council has supported overshadowing of the Yarra River, the Lord Mayor dismissed concerns that it would set a dangerous precedent for developers in the future.

“To say it creates a precedent is simply wrong,” he said. “The Rialto is there, 555 has a permit to overshadow, and there are two other buildings that either just overshadow or are just short of it.”

If approved by Planning Minister Matthew Guy, the tower would cast a moving 25-metre shadow over the Southbank Promenade, Freshwater Place and Crown Casino during the deepest part of winter.

During the meeting, Cbus representatives branded the proposal as “exceptional”, calling on a relaxation of the planning scheme for what they argued would be only a minor incursion of shadow.

Cr Ken Ong agreed saying that the permanency of the shadow wasn’t enough to deprive the city of desperately needed open space.

“25 metres, yes it is a shadow. 25 metres, depending on the pace you walk, you would probably out-walk it within 10 seconds,” he said.

Freshwater Place resident Peter Renner said compromising already limited open space in Southbank would have a profound impact on residential and public amenity.

“The issue here is the access that people have got to sunlight and daylight in Southbank. There’s not a lot,” he said.

“We’ve got a prohibition on a shadow at Southbank and we’re talking about overriding that because it’s exceptional.”

Yarra River Business Association executive officer Tim Bracher said Southbank promenade businesses were dependent on sunlight, with winter being the most challenging financial period.

Only a week after councillors voted to override the advice of planning officers to deny a permit for the Southbank UpMarket, Cr Rohan Leppert was once again critical of his colleagues.

“We’re actually talking about a mandatory control here, so this isn’t about negotiating under the current rules. It’s about changing the rules,” he said.

“Citizens are looking at council and saying that they’re happy to breach their own planning scheme, they’re happy to break their own rules and we do it far too often.”

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