Heritage slowed

Meg Hill

A Doyle-era conflict of interest stalled City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne Committee during its October 2 meeting on Southbank heritage.

The number of councillors present fell below the minimum needed to consider the matter and the meeting was closed after just 13 minutes.

When Planning Scheme Amendment C305 was due to be discussed, councillors Arron Wood and Beverley Pinder declared a conflict of interest.

Amendment C305 proposes significant extensions to heritage overlay and protections in Southbank and South Wharf, affecting 48 different locations.

The conflict of interest related to a 2016 election donation from Crown Casino board member Harold Mitchell to then Team Doyle councillors.

The meeting was already under-attended, with five councillors not present. As only four councillors were left, the chamber lost its ability to discuss and consider the matter. Two members of the public had attended the meeting to speak on the amendments, but verbal submissions could not be heard.

Crown Casino has plans for the country’s tallest skyscraper at 1 Queensbridge St – the site of the old Queensbridge Hotel. Amendment C305 proposes to add 1-7 Queensbridge St to the heritage overlay.

The slow process in finalising the amendment – to eventually be submitted to the Planning Minister for approval – is almost through the first stage of exhibition to the public.

The review has led to some revisions of the amendment – namely the reduction of the scope of the City Rd heritage overlay due to a number of existing permits for demolition or buildings that are already under construction.

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