A test of wills looms over a prime Abbotsford development site

Historic St Crispin House is back before City of Yarra planners with a development of 19 levels in the offing. A contentious planning application for the site at 247-259 Johnston Street Abbotsford was rejected by VCAT during 2012, much to the delight of Council at the time.

Initially submitted during January 2011 on behalf of Abbotsford JV Pty Ltd, the 17 level ROTHELOWMAN-designed scheme came in for heavy criticism for being out of scale with the surrounding neighbourhood. At 2,171sqm, the site was sold during early 2015 with the current larger application lodged mid year.

With a nominal project value of $45 million, the application calls for a 19 storey residential tower above three basement levels. City of Yarra have sought further information on the application prior to plans being made public.

Lemon Baxter and CBRE successfully sold the development site

The VCAT decision is a major win for Council and the community against overdevelopment. Council put forward a strong case at VCAT, employing a barrister to argue its position that the development’s scale, height and density was inappropriate. Council had received 87 objections, and a petition with 19 signatures, opposing the development.

Yarra Council: 247-259 Johnston Street, Abbotsford

Yarra Mayor Cr Geoff Barbour said VCAT’s decision was a great relief, given the proposal was out of kilter with the existing neighbourhood and would have set a precedent for very intensive development.

“This development would have changed the character of this neighbourhood, and there would have been no going back.”

He said Council would assess any new application for the site on its merits, but the developer should heed the verdict that an intense development would not be supported.

Yarra Council media release: “Community victory against 17-storey development in Abbotsford” (2012)

The above was taken from a City of Yarra 2012 media release upon VCAT ruling against the initial 17 storey tower which was to have held 204 apartments and 118 car parking spaces. The new application looks set to once again test the resolve of both Council and developer, although this time around 247-259 Johnston Street is not the only apartment development of note in the immediate area.

The rejected scheme for 247-259 Johnston Street Abbotsford. Image courtesy ROTHELOWMAN

Lodged during the same week, H Development Pty Ltd is also seeking approval for a 10 level apartment building nearby at 316-322 Johnston Street which would see 52 apartments realised. 288-298 Johnston Street which is diagonally opposite 247-259 Johnston Street also holds approval for 44 apartments over an eight level building which was conceived by Cox Architecture.

Lead image courtesy Victorian Heritage Database

1 comment

johnproctor's picture

I don't see an issue with this per se.

I don't think the last image in the document is a particularly nice design generally. it also looks like it isn't set back to any great extent and maintaining more of St Crispin house would be nice.

anyway. as a local (live within 500m) further development in this area to encourage regenaration of what is a pretty barren strip of shops between Punt and the Convent is a good thing.

I don't see much difference between 6-8 and 17 stories either if the site can handle it. In time I'd have thought the VicTrack land north of Johnston next to the train station will host 10+ story buildings so denying them on the south side would seem odd. I say that noting that this site abuts a railway line and to the south (over a street) is a three story walk up flats, and the site is deep enough to step down to lower height at the rear frontage to taper heights back down to local streetscapes.

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