A test of wills looms over a prime Abbotsford development site

A test of wills looms over a prime Abbotsford development site
Mark BaljakOctober 31, 2015

Historic St Crispin House is back before City of Yarra planners with a development of 19 levels in the offing. A contentious planning application for the site at 247-259 Johnston Street Abbotsford was rejected by VCAT during 2012, much to the delight of Council at the time.

Initially submitted during January 2011 on behalf of Abbotsford JV Pty Ltd, the 17 level ROTHELOWMAN-designed scheme came in for heavy criticism for being out of scale with the surrounding neighbourhood. At 2,171sqm, the site was sold during early 2015 with the current larger application lodged mid year.

With a nominal project value of $45 million, the application calls for a 19 storey residential tower above three basement levels. City of Yarra have sought further information on the application prior to plans being made public.

A test of wills looms over a prime Abbotsford development site
Lemon Baxter and CBRE successfully sold the development site

The VCAT decision is a major win for Council and the community against overdevelopment. Council put forward a strong case at VCAT, employing a barrister to argue its position that the development’s scale, height and density was inappropriate. Council had received 87 objections, and a petition with 19 signatures, opposing the development.

Yarra Council: 247-259 Johnston Street, Abbotsford

Yarra Mayor Cr Geoff Barbour said VCAT’s decision was a great relief, given the proposal was out of kilter with the existing neighbourhood and would have set a precedent for very intensive development.

“This development would have changed the character of this neighbourhood, and there would have been no going back.”

He said Council would assess any new application for the site on its merits, but the developer should heed the verdict that an intense development would not be supported.

Yarra Council media release: “Community victory against 17-storey development in Abbotsford” (2012)

The above was taken from a City of Yarra 2012 media release upon VCAT ruling against the initial 17 storey tower which was to have held 204 apartments and 118 car parking spaces. The new application looks set to once again test the resolve of both Council and developer, although this time around 247-259 Johnston Street is not the only apartment development of note in the immediate area.

A test of wills looms over a prime Abbotsford development site
The rejected scheme for 247-259 Johnston Street Abbotsford. Image courtesy ROTHELOWMAN

Lodged during the same week, H Development Pty Ltd is also seeking approval for a 10 level apartment building nearby at 316-322 Johnston Street which would see 52 apartments realised. 288-298 Johnston Street which is diagonally opposite 247-259 Johnston Street also holds approval for 44 apartments over an eight level building which was conceived by COX Architecture.

Lead image courtesy Victorian Heritage Database

Mark Baljak

Mark Baljak was a co-founder of Urban.com.au. He passed away on Thursday 8th of November 2018 after a battle with cancer. He was 37. Mark was a keen traveller, having visited all six permanently-inhabited continents and had a love of craft beer. One of his biggest passions was observing the change that has occurred in Melbourne over the past two decades. In that time he built an enormous library of photos, all taken by him, which tracked the progress of construction on building sites from across metropolitan Melbourne.

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