One of Southbank's grandest proposals which was submitted during the peak of Melbourne's skyscraper run of 2014, and which garnered substantial media attention, has been heavily modified to meet concerns raised by planning authorities. Even with a considerable reduction in height and apartment yield, 334-344 City Road has found no favour in a report to the Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee which was tabled earlier this month.
Prepared by City of Melbourne's Planning Coordinator, the report urges Melbourne City Council to officially object 334-344 City Road to state body Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (or whatever they may be called this month). Amended plans were submitted during November 2014 in order to address concerns focusing around excessive height, ground level layout, traffic flow and overall tower form.
Nestled in between the north-west side of City Road, south-west side of Clarendon Street and north of the West Gate Freeway, major differences between 334-344 City Road's initial and revised schemes for the 1,600sqm site are outlines below:
|July 2014||November 2014|
|82 levels||57 levels|
|270 metres||190 metres|
|198 hotel suites||110 serviced apartments|
|578 apartments||432 apartments|
|GFA 83,196sqm||GFA 60,038sqm|
|154 car parking spaces||117 car parking spaces|
|315 bicycle parking spaces|
While the subject site is a suitable candidate for redevelopment, there are a number of significant issues with the current proposal that must be resolved prior to the granting of a permit.
The development by virtue of its height, setbacks and subsequent bulky building form is considered to overwhelm and dominate the City Road Street environs. Although higher built form can be found in Southbank it is concentrated west of Moore Street where the Melbourne Planning Scheme guides that this form of development is most appropriate.
The lack of variation in the built form and architectural expression (including the lack of variation in tower shape), also increases the perceived three dimensional massing of the building and contributes to the visual impact of the building. The applicant has also failed to undertake a cumulative assessment of the traffic impact of the development on the local road networks and it is considered that the proposal will impact on the safety and operational capacity of City Road and Clarendon Street, in the vicinity of the site.
The proposal fails to achieve short term stationary wind conditions along City Road and fails to satisfy the requirements of DDO1 (requirement for active street frontages)Report to the Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee
On the issue of height the report goes delves into the discretionary height limits and the clear expectation that all planning application for the immediate area must "Achieve the design objectives of the schedule". Essentially a height of up to 100m is preferable, although excess height may be achieved where the following built form objectives are present:
The report asserts that in addition to excessive height, the above three objectives are not met.
The fact that other buildings may have been approved at heights over the 100m preferred height of Area 3, and the fact there are other buildings higher in other Areas with higher preferred heights, should not be an argument for such a proposal of extraordinary height variance.
The intent of the height control in Area 3 is for the control of building heights in Area 3. The proposed building height can only be considered in relation to the area it is within, not to other areas.Report to the Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee
Why has the report to the Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee not referenced towers to the East of 334-344 City Raod? Even in the face of multiple towers being approved at immense heights in the immediate vicinity, City of Melbourne still maintain a stoic resistance to any structure over the nominal height. Between 80-160 metres directly east are three towers that most people would think set a reasonable precedent for build form height around 334-344 City Road.
BPM's Shadow Play tower at 320 City Road looks set to rise 61 levels with its marketing campaign imminent, while directly opposite Crone Partners have prepared a 280 metre residential tower for 295 City Road and Elysium at 244 metres holds approval. City of Melbourne considers 334-344 City Road to be a proposal of extraordinary height variance on a site specific basis, yet a quick glimpse toward its neighbours suggests it's anything but.
The selective nature of the report prepared in assessing 334-344 City Road should be queried. Nonetheless an interesting outcome on a state level looms which may well act as a precedent should 334-344 City Road gain approval.