Resentment remains as GURNER gains approval for Queens Parade

26-56 Queens Parade has found planning resolution, with developer GURNER gaining approval via VCAT for the site which still remains steeped in controversy.

The success at VCAT comes after a marathon planning stint, seeing local discontent, intervention from Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne and ultimately VCAT deciding call. The Fitzroy North site can now progress to redevelopment for the purposes of 263 dwellings over the sprawling site.

Buildings of eight, nine and 10 storeys are approved, a far cry from the much denser 16 storey development that initially went to planning with 476 apartments in tow.

26-56 Queens Parade's path to approval was stymied after Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne intervened three days prior to the project's initial VCAT hearing, restricting any development over the site to 10 storeys.

26-56 Queens Parade. Image: Cox Architecture

In a strongly worded press release, the developer has insinuated that the move by the Planning Minister was a politically motivated exercise, owing to the development falling within the minister's electorate. Ultimately GURNER cycled through a handful of planning sets and two architects prior to finding approval.

26-56 Queens Parade and nearby developments have been vehemently opposed by residents action groups such as Protect Fitzroy North.

With approval in the pocket, developer Tim Gurner has gone on the offensive once more, berating the planning process.

It has been a challenging process for us but in terms of the actual effect on the project it is insignificant compared to the costs incurred by Council, taxpayers and other stakeholders.

For the Minister to claim that a project is of State Significance to warrant intervention and waste so much time and money for an outcome that represents just a 9 percent reduction in massing is ludicrous, however we are pleased with the outcome and believe this new design will deliver on our vision a world-class precinct for the area.

We held information sessions which the locals boycotted, then accused us of being closed to discussion – it was an intense period and one that we had never encountered before.

It is imperative that strategic planning is not affected by political intervention, particularly when the Planning Minister is conflicted and using his political power to influence planning matters in in his own electorate, when developers are acting within the Minister’s own planning guidelines.

Comment was sought from the Planning Minister but no response was received prior to publishing.

Further project particulars see a 450 square metre central public place which includes dining and retail spaces. GURNER and Cox Architecture's approved scheme includes 23,250 square metres of Net Sellable Area and two basement levels.

GURNER have indicated the project will initiate sales during 2019 with construction also expected to begin the same year.

Site aerial and new street level finish. Images: Yarra City Council and GURNER

Diagonally opposite the freshly approved site, GURNER is also pushing the merits of another site at planning. A new mixed-use building at 81-89 Queens Parade is planned, accounting for a 3,201 square metre triangular site that also fronts George Street.

Cox Architecture was also tasked with design duties, including a 1,732 square metre supermarket at ground level, 4,074 square metres of commercial office space and 110 serviced apartments.

If Gurner chooses to operate the serviced apartment component directly, it would represent the developer's first foray into the field. 81-89 Queens Parade's cost of development is estimated to be just shy of $30 million.

7 comments

George D's picture

Congratulations Gurner on what looks to be an excellent development.

I predict that in 15 years time the surrounding area will be filled with mid-rise, and the population will have forgotten their opposition and moved on to some other concern (banning cats, restricting use of the colour orange)

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Grampians's picture

the well fed and fully superannuated 50 and 60 something nimbies who bought into N Fitz when it was cheap and inflation made them wealthy on it (not fully earned wealth i say) will not go away. They have another good 20 something years of smug and enititled trendy outrage left in them.

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Adam Ford's picture

Piss of you complete piece of human garbage, Tim Gurner. How about we get some reporting on the envelope of what was approved rather than just quoting party boy?
It sounds like something like the Minister's proposed reduction in scale was the outcome, in which case, GOOD PLANNING!!! Where's THAT headline here??

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

Really? Gurner spent a lot of time and money preparing for a VCAT hearing on a set date. Then three days before the hearing the minister introduced new planning controls specifically designed to prevent this development going ahead. So then the hearing had to be delayed and they had to redesign the whole development again from scratch. I think he has every right to be upset even if the minister acted within the law.

There was no strategic planning justification for limiting this development to 10 storeys instead of the 12 storeys that was proposed at the time of the scheduled VCAT hearing except that 10 storeys is a nice round number.

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Adam Ford's picture

You seem very well versed in the party line, Mr Harrison.

Let's talk about all the community groups who think that for eg Councils have misinterpreted their own guidelines in approving an inappropriate addition to a heritage building.

Until the day comes when we have such avenues of appeal to VCAT or any other such body, Tim Gurner's crocodile tears that an elected representative did anything wrong in any given instance will never move me.

Can anyone answer what actual envelope was approved?

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Anton Lawrence's picture

Adam Ford, re your post on Saturday; please be respectful to other people, just as you would wish for their respect. Abuse of developers or anyone else won't serve your cause, whatever that is.

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johnproctor's picture

Adam. Don't blame Gurner. Blame the Council.

Firstly City of Yarra are so pathetically behind on their strategic planning that their is a lot of opporunity for developers to find gaps in the system to get through developments that are consistent with the planning scheme but inconsistent with local expectations. That is not Gurners fault.

Meanwhile I feel so sorry for CoY planners who know this and must feel embarassed every time they go to VCAT trying to defend a Council rejection of a planning permit often for sites their own officer's report recommended approval.

If Councillors in Yarra would wake up to how the system works they would do a mucuh better job of managing development to their communities expectations on two fronts.
1. do some strategic planning (including activity centre planning, heritage controls, strategic development site specific controls)
2. Negotiate with developers in a positive manner for mutually beneficial outcomes instead of throwing up barriers at every hurdle because they like to grandstand for the local Nimby's.

I've been a Yarra Resident for 12 years, have sat on CRG's for Yarra Planning processes and watched from the other side (as a related industry professional) at the low regard Yarra is held in for their populist positions on anything and everything with very limited actual real budget support for those planning and physical infrastructure issues (they do very well on support and investment in social issues and infrastructure).

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Adam Ford's picture

If you make yourself a public figure, if you try and drain the public purse by forcing the government to engage lawyers unecessarily, you are fair game.

This is not about Yarra, this is about dragging the MINISTER into the process. The Minister's intervention was appropriate, he is the highest democratically elected planning figure in the state, this was not done specifically to spite Gurner, whether it was this project that instigated the policy or not, HE should be the ultimate authority here, and he shouldn't be having to engage lawyers in order to invoke his right to govern for all Victorians.

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