New plans for Australia’s largest built-to-rent development in Docklands

District Living Docklands
Brendan Rees

A $700 million plan for a build-to-rent development could transform a prominent site in Docklands after the City of Melbourne gave its endorsement.

The project called District Living would make it Australia’s largest build-to-rent development, providing more than 900 apartments across two buildings at 24 Little Docklands Drive, a vacant site adjacent to Docklands Primary School and next to The District shopping centre.

The proposal by real estate investment and advisory group AsheMorgan consists of two buildings at 23 and 18 storeys and include a mix of studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, as well as more than 4000 square metres of amenities.

It would also feature “state-of-the-art” a wellness centre inclusive of a fitness studio, plunge pool, sauna and steam room and a stunning sky terrace with kitchen, dining, and relaxation spaces.

An outdoor space and greenery of 2500 square metres including an outdoor dog park and dog wash, an outdoor fitness area, and large green open spaces to relax is also proposed.

The proposal would also see a new pedestrian connection from Little Docklands Drive, via the proposed Saint Mangos Lane extension. 

The public and local community will also benefit from retail spaces on the ground floor and a further 1500 square metres of public outdoor open space.

Overall, 926 apartments would be delivered with one building consisting of 626 apartments and the other 299.


Councillors unanimously endorsed the proposal at their April 9 Future Melbourne Committee meeting. However, this was made on the condition that the building heights were reduced to a maximum of 71.5 metres and 60.5 metres respectively to ensure there was no overshadowing to the Docklands Primary School.   


Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece addressed the meeting saying it was a “truly landmark project for Docklands”.

“This is one of the last remaining large developable sites in the Docklands area,” he said, noting it was a “high-quality scheme and I think it has really benefited from the collaborative process that the city has gone through with Ashe Morgan and with Warren and Mahoney Architects”.

“This project is a huge vote of confidence in Docklands and will be a fantastic new addition to the precinct. The quality of the design is really strong … the green open space that is being delivered will be much appreciated by the Docklands community and broader Melbourne community.”

Cr Reece said to ensure the “sunlight will continue to shine on the playground at Docklands Primary School”, the council would require the buildings would be reduced by two and three storeys.

“When it comes to our role as councillors and the role of counselling, we are the custodians of the city, we govern for everyone here in the city, and sometimes that requires us to be pragmatic and sometimes it requires us to be firm,” he said. 

“And in this case, we do need to be firm, and we are going to require that (the building heights be reduced)”.  


An artist’s impression of the build-to-rent development at 24 Little Docklands Drive, Docklands.


The project is located adjacent to 80,000 sqm of existing amenity including AsheMorgan’s existing investment, The District Docklands, a vibrant mixed-use urban precinct.

AsheMorgan development director Mat Stoddart said having the support of the council was “a great step towards planning certainty”.

“We look forward to the project receiving the green light [from the state government] in due course,” he said. “Melbourne is facing a significant undersupply of housing, in particular, the rental market is grossly undersupplied with vacancy rates hitting record lows. Project completions, both across build-to-rent and build-to-sell, are expected to fall well short of the required numbers in the next five years in terms of population growth, further cementing a need for a project such as this.”

The proposal is currently being considered by the Minister for Planning Sonya Kilkenny with the plans having been informally referred to the council for comment. A tendering for a builder is scheduled to take place later this year.

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