Green light for tower despite overshadowing concerns

By David Schout

A 26-storey Collins St office tower has been given the thumbs up from the City of Melbourne despite concern from council officers about overshadowing.

Office tower giants Dexus had proposed the development at the “Paris end” of Collins St behind the 139-year-old heritage-listed Melville House.

But officers recommended councillors reject the application because, among other concerns, the proposal would overshadow around 40 per cent of the popular public forecourt at Collins Place on a late September afternoon. 

Currently, surrounding buildings only overshadow 10 per cent of the lunchtime hangout at the same time period. 

Councillors, however, were happy to support the Bates Smart-designed development provided it decreased overshadowing to 30 per cent.

“We are approaching a million people in the central city on a work day, so those spaces are more important than ever,” planning chair Cr Nicholas Reece said.

But overall, he remained supportive of the application.

“At a location like this the truth is we’re always going to be looking for a higher standard because this is our premier business street, and with those new buildings we want to see that absolute highest standard for the city achieved. And I do think this proposal in large parts achieves that.”

Cr Beverley Pinder said the design was a “superb architectural outcome” and a “great addition to the Paris end of Collins St”.

But councillor Cathy Oke, despite supporting the amended motion, was concerned with the precedent it might set for overshadowing concerns in future.

She said it was important the council protected “valuable spaces in our city”.

“We have so many buildings in our city, often with really bad frontages,” she said.

“We don’t want our streets to be like the Queen St tunnel that was the result of bad planning decisions where it is essentially a wind tunnel and it’s very dark, cold, windy and not a very nice place to be.”

A decision on the project will now be sent to the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne •

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