Sunday, March 8, 2009

Town Planning Application for 87 to 101 Bay St (1)

There is a significant planning application for 87 to 101 Bay St for an eleven storey building. It is not the first application for part of the site. There is already a valid permit for part of the site, granted by VCAT. Since that time, the site has been enlarged, and the current owner has an application before Council.

In 2007, Council refused an application from Central Equity for part of this site. Central Equity appealed the decision to VCAT. After considering the grounds for refusal, VCAT approved the application.
VCAT's decision considered the matter of height in some detail and concluded for various reasons that it was acceptable. This means that the matter of height has now been considered by the Tribunal and so Council can not argue the matter again. Key arguments from the Tribunal decision are reproduced below. All text within ' ' are taken from the VCAT decision.

Central Equity Ltd v Port Phillip CC [2007] VCAT 1029 (13 June 2007)

'The council decided that it would refuse the grant of a permit on a number of grounds.
In summary, the grounds of refusal assert that

  • the building is too high given the site is adjacent to heritage buildings and residential properties;

  • the building fails to provide a satisfactory transition in height from the lower built form elements to the north and the taller built form elements to the south;

  • the proposal is contrary to the thrust of the planning scheme’s policies particularly with respect to neighbourhood character and urban design.

The Tribunal member responded as follows:

First, it is relevant take into account the strategic context of the site. The site is located within the Bay Street Activity Centre. This centre is identified as a Major Activity Centre under the metropolitan strategy Melbourne 2030. This is significant because the strategies with Melbourne 2030, as outlined in clause 12 of the scheme, support mixed use development and investment in this type of centre. Intensive redevelopment can be contemplated in centres of this type that are able to cope with substantial chang

Second, it is also relevant that the broader strategic policies set out in the SPPF are consistent with and underpinned those in the MSS. Under clause 21.05-12 of the MSS, the site is located within the Port Melbourne Mixed Use Growth Area. It is an area where change is contemplated. Specifically, the change that is envisaged in this “growth area” is reflected in the DDO1-3 provisions which contemplate built form outcomes that are very different to those that have traditionally existed. While 2 storey Victorian buildings have traditionally existed in this part of Bay Street, the DDO1 control contemplates much taller buildings, irrespective of whether the “preferred” 19.5 metre or “absolute” 31.5 metre heights are applied to new development.

Third, it is relevant to take into account that since the late 1990s there has been substantial change given the emergence of several multi-storey buildings along this part of Bay Street. This development largely reflects the direction given by policy and guided by the height limits that are set out in the DDO1-3 provisions. Based on what has occurred and approved, it is my view that the rate of change in this part of Bay Street has been somewhat aggressive.
The key issue in this case is whether the building height is appropriate. It was the council’s contention that the proposed building is too high in that it fails to provide a reasonable transition from the lower heritage buildings to the north up to the taller elements in the precinct that are found further south along Bay Street.

In relation to the impact of the tower elements on the heritage buildings to the north, I agree with Mr Lovell’s view that the relationship between the old and the new is acceptable given the context. The context is such that along this part of Bay Street, new multi-storey buildings have been constructed cheek by jowl with the remnant Victorian fabric. This occurs further south along Bay Street and on the opposite side. The proposal will be no different. The proposed building will provide a relatively simple, almost benign backdrop against which the former post office and police station as well as the shop buildings to the north will be viewed. The former police station, court house and adjacent shop buildings will still retain prominence on the corner.

In my view, the overall height of the building is acceptable given the context and character of the precinct within which the site lies.'

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