Crown casino wins approval for Melbourne’s tallest tower

Crown casino wins approval for Melbourne’s tallest tower
Crown casino wins approval for Melbourne’s tallest tower

Plans for Melbourne’s tallest building — 322 metres — have been given the green signal by the Daniel Andrews’ government. 

James Packer’s Crown casino will expand its Southbank site to eight hectares for its $1.75 billion 90-storey tower.

On completion, the 1 Queensbridge Street site will have a 6-star hotel with 388 rooms, 708 apartments, a pedestrian skybridge and visitor attractions.

It will eclipse the current tallest building, Eureka Tower, by 25 metres and also the Australia 108 residential tower, also being built at Southbank and planned to be 319 metres.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne, who had earlier taken a firm hand to curtail over-development of sites,

approved the project – which is claimed to represent $2.1 billion in economic benefit - after 12 months of talks with the developer and Melbourne City Council, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Premier Andrews said the project would create 4000 jobs; 3000 during construction and another 1,000 once up and running.

"It's not just about height though, the quality of this design outcome, particularly the public realm benefits that will be accessible for all Victorians, really mark this out as a very, very special project," Andrews was quoted as saying.

But the decision was met with criticism from several quarters. 

Melbourne City councillor Rohan Leppert from the Greens said the tower "makes a mockery" of new rules for skyscrapers introduced by Wynne last year. This was, he said, "particularly due to the complete lack of setback to Queens Bridge Street and the sheer bulk of the building".

He also questioned why the public had not had any opportunity to have input into the tower decision.

Wynne amended the planning scheme in order to approve the tower, instead of the usual process of first seeking formal feedback from Melbourne City Council.

RMIT Planning academic Michael Buxton was also quoted in the report as saying Crown appeared to have created its own rules for the site.

"There is supposedly a rule in place for projects like this, but there are no rules, and the more powerful you are the fewer the rules," Professor Buxton said.

Crown and its joint venture partner Schiavello Group will pay $100 million towards a community package that will see a $25 million upgrade of Queensbridge square, and $15 million towards Sandridge rail bridge.

Construction is expected to start in 2018 and could take up to six years to finish. 

There will be no gambling within the building.

The announcement comes a day after an Auditor-General report found Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation oversight of gambling and money laundering at Crown Casino was inadequate, said the AAP in a report.

The VCGLR accepted the report and Andrews said if it needed extra government support he would "only be to happy" to provide it.

 

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Melbourne Residential Tower

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