New planning controls for CBD

By Laurence Dragomir

Last month saw the Planning Minister unveil new draft permanent central city planning controls that are now to be sent to an independent planning panel, which will allow the public to make submissions.

Chief among the proposed planning controls for Melbourne's CBD and Southbank is the introduction of a floor area ratio (FAR) of 18:1. The interim controls released last year put in place a FAR of 24:1.

Projects will have the ability to exceed the maximum FAR in the central city if there is a demonstratable public benefit. The public benefits can take the form of public open space, office uses, public space inside the building or social housing contained within the building.

In the podium and setbacks space, by default podiums will be limited to 20 metres in height with the discretion to increase it to 40 metres to match existing streetscapes and on certain street corners. Towers will need to be set back at least five metres from the podium edge and, likewise, there will be a minimum side and rear setback of five metres for proposals, which include a tower measuring 80 metres or less.

For proposals which include a tower taller than 80m, side and rear setbacks of 6 per cent of the overall height will be required.

RMIT University is hoping to continue its substantial building program with a sizeable mixed-use tower set for a long held A'Beckett St address.

Entering planning during late 2015, the new proposal designed by Denton Corker Marshall would provide additional educational space and 11 levels of office space, most likely for ancillary university use. Located at 24-46 A’Beckett St, the project also represents Denton Corker Marshall's third tower in the RMIT precinct, joining two active large-scale student housing towers in development.

Although the proposal will result in the loss of an urban park, the site was always expected to be developed by RMIT and has been subject to a proposal as far back as a decade ago.

Meanwhile the owners of Hotel Lindrum are seeking approval for a high-rise tower set behind their historic former Romanesque tea warehouse, which fronts Flinders St.

Entity TMG Developments Pty Ltd is pursuing the development in part due to Hotel Lindrum's pending loss of guest car parking in the adjoining multi-level car park, which is subject to a development application. In addition to expanded hotel suites and residential apartments, guest car parking will be consolidated onsite under the proposal.

Bates Smart has conceived a slim tower of some 30 levels, substantially lower than the initial site application, which called for 53 levels.

In other news, the late Zaha Hadid’s proposed 54-storey tower at 600 Collins St looks set to receive approval following support from the City of Melbourne. The 185m tower designed in collaboration with local firm Plus Architecture is envisaged as a series of three stacked vases. Despite a plot ratio in excess of 24:1 the proposed tower meets all other requirements of Planning Scheme Control C262.

Melbourne looks set to gain another starchitect-designed tower this time by Pritzker prize winner Jean Nouvel, who was in Melbourne as part of the Melbourne School of Design’s speaker series. The 70-storey, $700m tower is earmarked for a site on LaTrobe St.

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