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elev8's picture
#27

What you are saying, 3000 is totally correct, but the argument is for more stringent oversight around a buildings podiums/frontages, not about how the tower's height affects the 'livability' of an area. I still haven't heard a thing from the Planning Minister about how they intend to deal with the very issue that affects everybody in the city e.g. ground level activation - all I ever read about is height, plot-ratio and apartment size. Why is this never brought up at the highest level?

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Garmatt's picture
#28

And no more Ellenburg Fraser, please.

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Boris Bomber's picture
#29

Can anyone confirm if the western side wall is just a blank concrete wall or not?

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theboynoodle's picture
#30

"Right now, Melbourne could easily reimagine itself as a mini-London, with a more distributed city centre, with pockets of tallness"

It could imagine all it desires, but the step-change in the mentality of planners and residents required to deliver it is quite another thing.

The population growth plan for Melbourne is taking it closer and closer to the size of London.. so it's not going to be a 'mini' anything.. but despite currently having less than half the people it takes ups great deal more space because, in the main, it's a two-tone city. There are the towers of the CBD, Docklands, Southbank and one or two other (awfully constrained) blocks like the horrendous Forest Hill... and single story houses, with gardens, everywhere else.

London doesn't have a centre.. it has tens of them.. all brilliantly connected by public transport, and all with a strong medium-density presence (built up steadily over decades) and even where the density drops to houses (rather than apartments) they are tightly packed and frequently subdivided. Melbourne is a world away from this. The traditional/heritage housing stock is wonderful - but entirely incompatible with the sort of living that allows London to support such a population within it's footprint, and have it's 'network' of economic and cultural centres - each viable in it's own right, but also fully integrated in the wider city.

You are a fighter for heritage, but the problem that Melbourne's heritage housing has, which London's does not, is that it cannot support greater densities. If we are to place significant swathes of that housing 'off limits' for development (and, believe me, I've no wish to see my beautiful Fitzroy back-streets torn up and replaced with mid-density.. however well designed and built) then that has a knock on effect everywhere else.

You can, of course, raise densities and develop in many pockets around the city. You can even put in transport links to integrate those pockets (although let's not kid ourselves that Melbourne's mass-transit will ever be anything other than arterial in our lifetimes) but you won't get 'mini London' at the end of it because, those areas will lack all those great heritage things that you want to protect elsewhere. And those areas *with* the heritage stuff will continue to have their growth restricted by that very protection.

If you want a 'mini London' then great. Raze the workers terraces of the inner suburbs and build good quality low-mid rise higher-density housing. Put in a couple more underground rail lines. Then wait 100 years to see if it takes.

I'm not having a go here.. I don't know how well you know London.. maybe better than me.. but I'm from the UK so have spent plenty of time there. It's a special place, and fascinating from an urbanist point of view. It owes what it has to the time and way that the bulk of the city developed. Melbourne seem so very different that I can't see a path towards anything similar.

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Melbourne_Fragments's picture
#31

^ though your analysis ignores significant pockets of 3-4 storey flats across the inner and middle suburbs, and of course terrace housing suburbs which accommodate much higher density than suburban houses, and in some cases even higher density than apartment towers!

Though I suppose what Bilby means by 'mini-london' is simply in out inner city, not the metro as a whole (i.e much as the CBD is now, pockets of high intensity companioned by low rise but still dense pockets like Bourke Hill, Chinatown etc..)
this also leads to pockets of cultural activity which Melbourne is famed for, with space for both small art galleries and spaces, uinique businesses, laneways etc.. and also the nations largest office towers, and residential density within the city, something Sydney, Perth and even international cities etc.. envy us for, but a ratio which is steadily being eroded for the latter.

Unfortunately I cant find it atm, but there are legit studies showing that terrace areas like Fitzroy can actually accommodate equal or higher density of population than apartment towers can, paging Bilby....

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theboynoodle's picture
#32

"Unfortunately I cant find it atm, but there are legit studies showing that terrace areas like Fitzroy can actually accommodate equal or higher density of population than apartment towers can, paging Bilby...."

I suspect they can (and do) because of different occupation patterns. i.e. the average terrace house probably contains a family or people in a sharing arrangement, whereas in towers it's more likely to be singles and couples. So you get fewer dwellings, but higher average occupancy. And then chuck in all the 'non living' space in towers - albeit that a lot of that space (communal, retail, parking etc) has value, to residents and the wider community, that private dwellings do not.

Still.. I wasn't comparing to towers, I was comparing to London.. which is absolutely *not* a highrise city, yet is significantly denser that Melbourne. Because however many people can happily live in a Fitzroy terrace.. you can get 3-4 times that in London terraces with a similar footprint.

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Bilby's picture
#33

In planning terms, though, surely Elev8's comments on the previous page warrant further scrutiny. Does it really make sense to mass residential towers in a central business precinct? What exactly happens to the designated "business" zones of the CCZ then? What you might regard as a "hotchpotch", architecturally speaking, was actually a prime area for small business and creative industries, fostering the risk taking and experimentation required in an economy like Melbourne's. What happens when this area is cooked with resi-towers? Presumably very little - this part of the so-called CBD will be little more than a vertical suburb with some frozen yoghurt shops, hairdressers, supermarkets and coffee shops. That's hardly a promising picture for Melbourne's "Central Business District" is it?

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Bilby's picture
#34

In response to Theboynoodle, what I was referring to re: London, was that we could reimagine Melbourne as a city of multiple "centres" just as London is distributed across many municipal areas without a single centre as such. I said "mini-London" for a reason too - even with the population growth projected, Melbourne is not comparable in scale to the metropolis of London. Melbourne might be sprawling, but at under 5 million across the whole metro area, perhaps rising to 8 million by 2050, we will still be dwarfed by London. Even now, metro London has app. 13.9 million people within its boundaries - almost triple the size of Melbourne, and more compact too.

Regarding density, Fitzroy is currently at 60 persons per hectare with the capacity for more without any demolitions of heritage sites at all. There are still large ex-commerical sites in Fitzroy proper (not to mention Fitzroy North, which recently saw the sale of a $40million property on Queens Pde of some 8500m2) that can cater to large numbers of residents in future without adversely impacting directly on heritage buildings if developed appropriately.

Melbourne CBD (i.e. city centre / Hoddle Grid) is sitting at about 46 persons per hectare. So, as MelbourneFragments rightly suggests, packing in all those residential towers might look impressive, but they haven't delivered the population density that the historic heritage areas achieve. Interestingly, Fitzroy used to be much denser c. 1900, so it will take quite a while before it catches up to its own population density record.

Conclusion: high-rise towers are over-rated when it comes to delivering dense urban centres. They do deliver dense, somewhat dead blocks and streets, however, because of the consolidation of lots required to achieve such height, and because of the regulatory building requirements for towers, with their provisions for fire cupboards, parking entrances, lobbies, foyers, services, and other imposts on the street frontage.

With too many towers in a precinct, what you end up with then is anything but a dense "CBD", but rather a dense high-rise "suburb" with much of the street life and diverse entrepreneurial experimentation we associate with the best city streets largely erased.

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Dean's picture
#35

In regards to Biblys comments re: 'having resi mixed with commercial'. I really think that's the whole point...That's what's needed. Given that most jobs are in the CBD and its fringes then having a mixture of business and resi towers where people can live and have easy access to work etc takes pressure of roads and public transport infrastructure. Plus it creates a vibrant city centre after the regular hours of 9-5.

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Melbourne_Fragments's picture
#36

of course it is probably possible to retain small scale allotments and truly mix usage tenancies for experimentation and cultural use (as well as ones that can adapt over time like many heritage buildings) in podiums, but developers just aren't paticularily interesting in delivering it when they can get away with a token large cafe or chain store tenancy delivering an easy profit.

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Peter Maltezos's picture
#37

Can anyone confirm if the western side wall is just a blank concrete wall or not?

Hi Boris Bomber, I think you mean the eastern wall (west faces Elizabeth Street), hard to tell, but my guess is that the podium will be a blank wall and the tower section probably glazed like the other sides.

CBD | 478-488 Elizabeth Street Street | 52L | 161m | Mixed Use

I collect, therefore I am. thecollectormm.com.au

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theboynoodle's picture
#38

"Melbourne CBD (i.e. city centre / Hoddle Grid) is sitting at about 46 persons per hectare. So, as MelbourneFragments rightly suggests, packing in all those residential towers might look impressive, but they haven't delivered the population density that the historic heritage areas achieve. Interestingly, Fitzroy used to be much denser c. 1900, so it will take quite a while before it catches up to its own population density record."

Unless those stats are more sophisticated than you present, Hoddle Grid vs Fitzroy is not a valid comparison of anything. The Hoddle grid has one or two commercial buildings that compromise the population density figures. Also, Fitzroy in 1900 doesn't help us either unless we think that lots of people want to live like people did in 1900.

Still.. we're not especially at cross purposes here. I'm not a cheerleader for towers. Well executed low and mid-rise resi in the inner burbs seems like a better idea to me (and why wouldn't it.. I live in exactly such a development, except for it being kinda fugly).

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Nicholas Harrison's picture
#39

Bilby your figures are way off. The CBD had a population density of 130 people per hectare in 2014 and would be higher now. Fitzroy had a population density of 80 people per hectare and was the third densest suburb in Melbourne after Carlton which had 95 people per hectare.

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Bilby's picture
#40

Nicholas, Melbourne CBD is 620 hectares with 32000 residents this year (CofM's own figures - see link below). That's about 52 people per hectare on 2016 figures - how have you derived your figure of 130 per hectare?

http://melbournepopulation.geografia.com.au/areas/CLSA01

CBD | 478-488 Elizabeth Street Street | 52L | 161m | Mixed Use

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Nicholas Harrison's picture
#41

The CBD only has an area of 240 hectares not 620, look at the area covered on the top of the webpage you linked.

According to the ABS the Melbourne Statistical Area Level 2 (CBD) had an area of 240 hectares and a population of 30,878 in 2014.

http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3218.0Main+Features12013-14?OpenDocument

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Bilby's picture
#42

240 hectares? I take it you are referring to the Hoddle Grid itself - that is a tiny part of Melbourne. The smaller the area we look at, the denser things can look, statistically speaking, but that's almost like looking at a city on a block by block basis for density. I guess the point about this discussion was simply that towers are not needed for reasonable population densities, and given their other drawbacks (poor ESD credentials, relative to other typologies, poor street frontages, activation and integration with streets generally compared to other built form options), there is little justification for damaging important parts of the CBD just to bump the numbers up a little per hectare on those blocks. Overall, the towers in the north of the city will make very limited impact on Melbourne's housing future, but they are making a big impact on the way that the CBD is experienced and on its economic potential into the future.

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Adam Ford's picture
#43

You just need to be sure the numbers relate. The population projections are based on a region closer in size to what Nicholas is suggesting, and they do project significantly higher population densities than in heritage neighbourhoods. The same numbers for Kensington - with a similar area to the CBD and population projections under 16,000 by 2035 when the CBD will house over 60,000 - and incidentally will precipitate a major and messy electoral redistribution potentially across Melbourne.

this argument is veering pointlessly down a "towers good" versus "towers bad" argument. I'd suggest neither analysis is nuanced enough to reflect a complex reality. Towers go up while there's a demand for that built form. That in turn has consequences for the urban realm. But I find it hard to get to an argument "we shouldn't be supplying this built form for which the market is demonstrating a need". I'm more about "we need to ask these sorts of developments to tick a few more urban boxes than they are doing at the moment - particularly around how their developments impact at street level. And stop knocking over heritage buildings. Build on the ample eyesores.

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3000's picture
#44

Nicely put.

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tiankd74's picture
#45

When the authority refused the proposal, the developer can bring the authority to VCAT. Just curious if the proposal got approval, can the residents next door bring the developer to the VCAT if they believe the development affects their light or ventilation?

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theboynoodle's picture
#46

But I find it hard to get to an argument "we shouldn't be supplying this built form for which the market is demonstrating a need"

We can't assume that the fact that people buy these units means that people want them. If the only food on offer is seaweed stew, then you'll sell a lot of seaweed stew. It doesn't mean everyone wants to eat seaweed stew.

The property market is highly dysfunctional for a whole host of reasons. Poor apartments (in towers of all sizes) sell because people lack other options. Further, the initial sales (which are what drive design) are biased towards investors, not occupiers, so the market doesn't even allow the people who'll actually live in the units to make their preferences known until it's far too late for them to be taken into account. We see that in the secondary market where the highest prices are paid for houses, and the next highest for established apartments in older developments that configured very differently to most new builds.

The financial model behind high-density residential development is the greatest barrier to high-density residences accountable to genuine market forces.

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Michael Berquez's picture
#47

Sometimes people can only afford seaweed stew.
So I'd say that the cheaper stock is as important as the higher end more quality stuff. People on lower incomes should also be afforded the opportunity to live high rise in the CBD.

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pdoff's picture
#48

"... by 2035 when the CBD will house over 60,000 [population projections]"

Lol I'm not sure if the the good people at COM have ever done the math on the supply side with their projections, but we wont even reach 2025 before the CBD houses 60,000. There's enough apartments under construction this very moment to get us half way there (from a June 2015 starting point population of 33,000). Then add to that the likes of Queens Place, West Side Place and Premier Tower and the CBD will be well past 50,000 sometime around 2020-21.

If I'm wrong its either because projects have been cancelled / delayed or foreigners really are sitting on a ton of empty apartments (if they don't, look out for the mother of all busts).

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pdoff's picture
#49

I agree totally Michael. These investor grade apartments will be appealing to live in at a certain price point to certain people. Worst case scenario is that we're witnessing the construction of the CBD's future affordable housing without any government intervention required.

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theboynoodle's picture
#50

Sometimes people can only afford seaweed stew.
So I'd say that the cheaper stock is as important as the higher end more quality stuff. People on lower incomes should also be afforded the opportunity to live high rise in the CBD.

But the reason they are the most affordable options (in any given location) is that they are the least desirable. If the standards were raised it would not (within reason) raise the price.

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Michael Berquez's picture
#51

Well let me put it this way, I DESIRE a Bentley or a Range Rover.....but I am aware that the finer things in life are normally more expensive and accept that I can only afford a Holden Commodore....and although I can't have my dream car, i'm pretty happy with the Commodore coz at least I can still drive on the roads or drive to the beach like everyone else. So, in a way, I'm glad not all cars are Bentleys and Range Rovers otherwise I wouldn't be able to have a car at all.

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