It’s all about apartments

By Laurence Dragomir

This month’s column sees me taking over the reins from my Urban Melbourne compatriot, Alastair Taylor and so I thought it would be apt to pick up from where he left off last month.

Debate amongst the industry and government regarding the Better Apartments discussion paper continues, with the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne weighing in via an article on Urban Melbourne at the beginning of the month, where he sought to emphasise the point that the discussion is meant to be more in-depth than just a critique of apartment sizes.

“While apartment sizes are a hot talking point, we must keep in mind that good design is the key. There are some fantastic small apartments offering good amenity, natural light and are affordable, just as there are plenty of poorly-designed large apartments.”

– Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, June 3, 2015.

In planning and development news, a number of projects were approved by the Minister including Fragrance Group’s 228m Premier Tower on the Savoy Tavern site, which has been scaled down from its initial height of 294m; and 386-412 William St comprising 38 and 18-storey towers rising to respective heights of 120m and 57m on the former Mazda site owned by MIT founder Shesh Ghale.

The site sits opposite the Queen Victoria Market and Flagstaff Gardens in a quadrant of the city undergoing significant change.

The existing art deco building will be retained as part of the overall development.

Other developments featured on Urban Melbourne in the last month include Dexus’s 65-storey apartment tower at 32-44 Flinders St and a glimpse of potential plans for a 70-storey mixed-use tower at 600 Collins St which would replace the existing three-storey building next door to the topped-out 568 Collins.

The site is owned by Vic Investments Management Group. 212-222 LaTrobe Street and 17-25 Little LaTrobe Street feature again this month after being acquired by London-based student living group Scape Living who are also developing units on an adjacent site at 393 Swanston St as part of a 1500-bed community for domestic and international students.

The three developments will be delivered in stages during 2018 and 2019. Melburnians will have also noticed a number of drilling rigs stationed throughout the city as geotechnical investigations got underway for the Melbourne Metro project at key locations including City Square, Franklin St and adjacent to the Audi showroom along Swanston St.

And finally the redevelopment of the Queen Victoria Market continues to push ahead with the finalisation of the Master Plan for the precinct in addition to its nomination for possible inclusion on Australia’s National Heritage List.

The announcement was made on Friday, June 12 by the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

The Final Draft Master Plan has been released to the public prior to council’s final consideration in July.

Interested parties are invited to view the Final Draft Master Plan on the Participate Melbourne website until Friday, July 10 or attend an information session at the Community Engagement Hub at 452 Queen St between 9am-2pm on Saturday, June 20.

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