A 17-storey student housing building at 500 Swanston Street is off to VCAT after the applicant, Journal Property Limited, decided to appeal the matter after City of Melbourne council failed to make a decision within the requisite 60 statutory days.
During its meeting on Tuesday night, the City of Melbourne's Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee resolved that it would have issued a permit subject to conditions, had the appeal to VCAT not been made.
These conditions would have included a reduction in height of two levels taking the overall height down to 15-storeys or approximately 51.5m, which according to Council planners would provide a better transition between Upper House to the north (17-storeys), Arrow on Swanston Street to the south (12-storeys) and The Eminence (15-storeys) to the north-east.
This would reinforce Upper House's prominence on the corner and ensure that the proposed tower is not as prominent when viewed from Swanston Street, argues Council. Additionally, Council would have required levels 11 and above to be reconfigured to increase the setbacks from the southern boundary reducing their dominance and bulk further.
Increasing the setbacks will also improve internal amenity for student accommodation modules and improve the external amenity impacts by creating a greater separation from surrounding residential properties.
Council's planners provided their appraisal based on plans prepared by Metier3 in November 2017, which were subsequently amended in March 2018 with the following changes:
The original plans included three building elements providing 710 student accommodation units via a mix of studio, two-bed, three-bed, four-bed and five-bed units.
A food and drink, and two retail tenancies are located at the ground level, while the basement would contain a laundry, workshop, storage for 80 bicycles, and building services.
The lower ground will largely accommodate communal student areas including two landscaped courtyards, lounge, communal and private study areas, kitchen and dining area, entertainment, well-being and gym areas and gaming room.