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August 09 Edition Cover

Council slams shed plan

31 Jul 2014

Council slams shed plan Image

Melbourne’s councillors have slammed a plan to demolish seven bays of the Goods Shed North .

The Equiset Grollo Group proposal came before the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on July 1 and was met with unanimous opposition from the councillors.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the application was “terrible” and “just about everything” in the plan was wrong.

The developer wants to demolish seven bays of the historic Goods Shed North, along with the existing three-storey 710 Collins St building, to make way for a 34-storey commercial tower.

But councillors questioned the perceived lack of respect for the heritage of the building.

Equiset’s Nicholas Wilkinson defended the plan at the meeting, saying the 180-metre tower would not exceed preferred height limits and that heritage concerns were separate to planning issues.

He said the development would be “an iconic tower that would reinvent Batman’s Hill”.

But Lord Mayor Robert Doyle appeared outraged by this defence, saying: “Don’t tell me about iconic towers. We’ve got so many towers we don’t know what to do with them. They’re not iconic, they’re just towers.”

He also found fault with the proposed tower’s lack of setback from the street, saying there was “no respect for a very difficult area”.

“This is one more where you’re trying to get the maximum height and the maximum bulk and the maximum density into a challenging site,” Cr Doyle said.

He said the proposal did not respect the heritage of the site and that these issues were not separate to planning concerns, as had been suggested.

“Don’t tell me that you’re going to respect heritage by taking away about 30 metres of it,” Cr Doyle said.

Councillors Arron Wood and Ken Ong agreed with Cr Doyle’s evaluation that heritage and planning were not separate issues.

“It’s well and good to talk about heritage being divorced from this application, when it’s the very fabric of what this application’s all about given you want to develop a site with a heritage shed on it,” Cr Wood said.

Cr Stephen Mayne was more measured in his criticism but said: “the envelope has been pushed too hard”, pointing to Planning Minister Matthew Guy.

“In the environment the Minister has created it’s not surprising that the envelope is being pushed all over town,” Cr Mayne said.

Councillors unanimously opposed the proposal and council will send a letter of objection to the Department of Planning.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy is the responsible authority for approving the permit application.

Heritage Victoria is also considering the proposal.

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