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Editions

Councillors slam Collins Wharf plan

29 Sep 2016

Councillors slam Collins Wharf plan Image

City of Melbourne councillors have unanimously rejected Lendlease’s new master plan for Collins Wharf.

At the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on September 20 councillors rejected their planning officers’ recommendation to endorse the plan and, instead, will ask Planning Minister Richard Wynne back the drawing board.

The new plan opts for a row of high-rise towers along the length of the peninsula replacing low-rise, timber heritage-inspired townhouses.  

The Victoria Harbour Collins Wharf Development Plan 2015 has been in the public realm for most of this year, with no indication that councillors did not approve.

Councillors apologised for their late bombshell, but pointed out that this was the first time they had been asked their views.

Cr Rohan Leppert led the charge saying the plan did not respect the waterways.

“I believe this proposal is poor, and that the conditions to require architectural variety between towers is not enough to rescue what will be a visually dominant wall along the length of the wharf,” Cr Leppert said.

“This will box in Victoria Harbour and divide the water without justification. The 2010 plan respects the finger wharf heritage much better, though its proposed land uses and civil engineering requirements are unworkable - I accept that.”

“The problem here is that there is so little guidance in the scheme at the strategic level to dictate what constitutes a good planning outcome. But this is not a good outcome, so this motion urges the Planning Minister to do what he can to avoid this dominating wall of towers dividing up the water.”

“For the sake of the Docklands community, the Planning Minister must knock this proposal back,” Cr Leppert said.

He was supported by Cr Stephen Mayne who pointed out the uniqueness of the site and the lack of precedent in other notable cities.

Cr Mayne said he was “amazed” there had been no public outcry over the revised development plan.  

He acknowledged that Lendlease’s change of plan was precipitated by financial considerations. But he said it was difficult for the council to assess this while the city was locked out of agreements between the government and Docklands’ developers.

He suggested it might be time for the State Government to “buy back” remaining Docklands parcels to ensure appropriate development.

Planning chair Cr Ken Ong was also critical of the new plan, specifically because it set up a “solid wall” against the river.

Cr Ong pointed out that the matter was now up to Mr Wynne to determine.

Lendlease’s Victoria Harbour project director Tim Campbell had earlier explained to councillors that the development plan had been revised to get a “better outcome”.

He pointed out that the Wooden Boat Centre was being incorporated into the new development, as was an “eco” park and a health and wellbeing centre.

He acknowledged that the scale of the development had increased but said it still boasted a low floor area plot ratio of 3.5:1.  New rules governing the CBD and Southbank are being tightened to a plot ratio of 18:1 from 24:1 mandated in current interim central city controls.

“The scale has increased, but it is based on plans and policies,” he said.

Lendlease declined to comment on the councillor’s motion.

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