Australia 108 – another excessive over-development adding to inner city blightIn Development, Planning
Approval by Matthew Guy, Minister for Planning, of a 388 metre high building in Southbank is just another nail in the coffin of making inner Melbourne a less than desirable place to live.
This proposal, called Australia 108 because it’s 108 stories high, is one of those alluring developments with lots of flash videos and glossy pictures and stunning architecture. But the reality is that it’s simply too high, is a gross over-development of a not very large site, and is so contrary to the Design & Development Overlay (DDO) for this area that it should never have got off the design table.
Let’s be clear about what’s what in this area. The Minister for Planning has proposed that this area be deemed a Capital City Zone which means he has control over any applications of more than 25,000sqm. However, the existing DDO on the area had to go through extensive community consultation and Ministerial oversight so it can be deemed to have been rigorously developed and approved. It has a recommended height of 100m for this site and allows for a transition up to 160m to the north of the site. These heights are not mandatory but were carefully considered and agreed through expert processes. One of the built form outcomes of the DDO is allowing for solar access at street level. This proposal fails dismally on that count. There was an existing approval for a 225m high building (I don’t know the history of that approval). Even so, how could a 388m high building ever be considered to fit with the DDO? To add to the extent of gross over-development, it has a plot ratio of 46.6, almost four times the design standard for the Capital City Zone and more than twice the plot ratio of Eureka Tower.
Much derision has been poured on Docklands for being unliveable, lacking a soul and having been ruined by allowing developers to do their own thing without any overall plan. That’s what DDOs are for, to give well considered guidance to developments so that appropriate outcomes can be achieved. These sorts of approvals, i.e. almost four times the recommended height and plot ratio, are just heading down the path of a most unliveable precinct. And such developments are not necessary to prevent the outward spread of Melbourne. That can be solved with medium density living in many areas of Melbourne where transport and other services already exist. High rise, especially so far in excess of properly developed design guidelines, is not the answer.
How do these things happen? It seems that the process of having the Minister for Planning acting as the responsible authority for any Capital City Zone area is prone to these sorts of totally inappropriate outcomes. Mr Guy espouses his desire to see local communities have control of developments in their local area. Here’s an example of the City of Melbourne being put through the (appropriate) hoops to develop a DDO for Southbank yet having it so grandly ignored by the Minister without any community consideration or accountability.
However, this cat is now out of the bag and we can be sure that more and more inapporpiate developments, i.e. grossly in excess of design guidelines, will be approved by the Minister unless Mr Guy makes a public commitment that he will stick with rigorously developed DDOs.