Seeking Ministerial waiver

One of the biggest tests to Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s interim planning controls will be CBUS Property’s CCTV-inspired building for 447 Collins St designed by Woods Bagot and SHoP architects.

The $1.25 billion scheme comprises dual 47-level towers connected via sky-bridge rising to an overall height of 165 metres.

Occupying an entire city block, a feature which alone may see the proposal considered to be of “state significance” the development team have requested dispensation in order to facilitate the uniquely shaped development, with the project potentially set to be the first to receive a ministerial waiver since the September implementation of the revised planning controls.

The ground plane is slated to hold a tree grove, promenade and ampitheatre, which will form the backbone of the project’s publicly accessible spaces. Retail outlets will feature around the differing podiums and each will be individually framed with increased design presence to discern themselves from typical glass-fronted retail stores, which define many contemporary developments.

The natural gradient of the site will see Flinders Lane act as lower ground level with project vehicular access confined to one crossover.

In addition to contributing $500,000 to the possible discontinuation of Market St toward Collins St, the development team have allowed for the likelihood of the 1500sqm parcel melding with 447 Collins St’s new public realm.

For its part Melbourne City Council has indicated that the mooted discontinuation of Market Street would cost approximately $3 million and take up to two years to implement.

It has been recommended that Melbourne City Council support the master plan for 447 Collins St, all but clearing one of the largest hurdles toward the project becoming reality. Minister for Planning Richard Wynne now shapes as the pivotal factor in the approval process.

Not finding any favour with City of Melbourne is 32-44 Flinders St, which has been reduced in height again to 175m so as not to overshadow within 15m of the north bank of the Yarra.

Curiously a loophole in the new interim planning controls meant that they could be retrospectively applied to applications submitted before their implementation.

The planning department has since closed the loophole in the regulations so it will be interesting to see what the final outcome is.

Meanwhile the sales and marketing phase of the twin tower Queens Place at 350 Queen St is well underway despite the project awaiting formal approval while, just down the road, details have emerged of the final short-list of five bidders vying for the right to develop a 200m-high apartment tower on the 6000sqm Munro site in the Queen Victoria Market precinct.

The five parties bidding for the site are Cbus Property, Grocon, Mirvac, PDG Corp and Lang Walker’s Walker Corporation. The successful proponent is expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2016.

And that concludes what has been an action packed year in planning and development for Melbourne, see you in 2016.

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