Is 22 levels really too tall for Parkville?

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Once again, the number of floors in a building is the apparent focus of community anger, this time in relation to the final stages of development in the former Commonwealth Games village.  

Where I'd argue mitigating the risks of excessive noise or polluted ventilation from the adjacent Tullamarine Freeway corridor is a far higher priority for planners; for some it's all about the height in the new plans for that corner of Parkville.

Dominated by look-a-like $1million+ houses with large footprints that held multiple athletes per room during the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the extreme western end of the site has over the years seen progressive development of higher-density buildings wedged between the Tullamarine Freeway and Cade Way.

The final stages of the development, reportedly, would see even higher-density development toward the southern end of the site - closest to the public transport services on Mount Alexander Road and the Upfield rail line at Flemington Bridge.

The Age has quoted a representative of the Friends of Royal Park as saying "Royal Park is the most valuable, biggest and oldest park in the state... you could never do a development like this around the Shrine. It's excessive and exploitative."

It's an interesting claim to make given St. Kilda Road's skyline and its relationship to the Shrine has seen planning battles (and subsequent changes) in the past yet one constant is that it hasn't halted buildings in the 20-30 level range within the Shrine's vicinity.

Similarly, it may be one of the largest parks in Melbourne, however Royal Park is littered with private uses: Royal Children's Hospital, The Parkville Youth Justice Centre, CSL, Royal Melbourne Hospital and the not-open-24/7 Royal Melbourne Zoo.

And what is the fundamental issue of having taller buildings right next to abundant green space, especially when the development will only consume land that had already been set aside for development?  

Overshadowing greenspace, of course, is a legitimate concern however it's not as if this upscaled development is situated on Park Street, the Upfield rail line or Poplar Road - where overshadowing during the day and afternoon would affect greater amounts of parkland.

If anything, with taller buildings now being proposed, Spring Street should be insisting on a number of the dwellings in the greater amount of floors be set aside for affordable housing - both in the social and market-affordable areas. 

It will be a great day when the community focuses less on the height of new buildings and more on who is able to access the housing units contained within them.

1 comment

Len's picture

Designed well it has the potential to be an architectural enhancement on the precinct complementary with the similar scale Alt development on Mt Alexander Rd. However this really goes to trust and how after planning outcomes are brokered time and again communities involved in those decisions and the public in general find that undertakings are malleable and readily set aside in the interest of financial gains plus whatever else may lay behind such gains in the vein of what was suggested at by yesterday's Sunday Age revelations regarding the Keysborough Green Wedge land.

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