Take it either way > 661 Chapel Street planning application

It's not often that a developer goes to the trouble of commissioning two schemes for the one site with the expectations both will gain planning approval. That's precisely what South Yarra stalwart developer Michael Yates & Co has done. 661 Chapel Street, South Yarra is currently a lowrise commercial complex yet should either or both applications gain approval, a minimum 287 apartments can be expected.

The developer has been in negotiations with the adjacent Melbourne High School (MHS) to sell a portion of the development site, all things proceeding as planned a 933sqm northern section of 661 Chapel Street will transfer to MHS for use as student accommodation and teaching facilities. Within this agreement is a clause where the intended MHS building can only rise to the equivalent of four carpark levels of the adjoining future 661 Chapel Street development, protecting residential sight lines by invoking light and air easements.

It's expected the site will be divided into three lots once MHS and the State Government complete negotiations for funding, with two being retained by the developer. Should the planned sale and transfer to MHS not proceed, a larger scheme incorporating the entire site has also been submitted to Stonnington for approval, leading to dual planning applications.

Major differences between Michael Yates & Co's schemes 1 and 2 can be summarised by the following, where Scheme 1 reserves the intended MHS plot C (seen above) while Scheme 2 incorporates plot C into a larger development.

Scheme 1   Scheme 2  
Tower 1A Tower 1B Tower 1A Tower 1B
26 levels 21 levels 26 levels 21 levels
76m 60.35m 76m 60.35m
158 apartments 129 apartments 202 apartments 137 apartments
131 car spaces 128 car spaces 175 car spaces 161 car spaces
46 bicycle spaces 45 bicycle spaces 60 bicycle spaces 57 bicycle spaces
>> unknown >> 1187sqm office
>> 54sqm retail space >> 189sqm cafe
>> 69sqm retail space >> 217sqm shop

Working on the assumption that the MHS plan eventuates, the smaller scheme 1 would involve 287 apartments split between two buildings which share a common wall. The taller west building (1A) at 26 levels would command sweeping views over Port Phillip Bay and Melbourne's CBD while the abutting 21 level East building (1B) fronts Chapel Street with views to the Dandenongs.

Whilst appearing as one unbroken form, the two tower complex allows Developer Michael Yates & Co to deliver a staged development if they so desire, releasing one or both to public sales at their discretion.

Project architect Bird De La Coeur have by intent or coincidence devised a western tower that is remarkably similar in form to Buchan Group's Vogue apartment tower at 670 Chapel Street. Both employ a sheer glass facade indented with balcony openings. Conversely 661 Chapel Street's eastern building includes a number for setbacks from Chapel Street, the first of which occurs at level 6 or 20.5m above street level. A further setback occurs at level 18 or 55.85m, allowing the building to transition into the taller western tower.

Questions may be raised as to the amount of vehicular space dedicated to the porte-cochere and whether it could be used in a more meaningful purpose, exacerbated by the fact the eastern tower will also have another carpark entry. This results in three separate vehicle access points to Chapel Street.

The porte-cochere is made possible by a 30m setback from Chapel Street for the western tower while the eastern tower maintains 2.82m setback, in line with the existing streetscape. Retail premises are prominent, as are the alfresco dining areas, thereby enhancing activity and interaction with Chapel Street.

A Stonnington Council planning decision for 661 Chapel Street is imminent.

All renders and ground plan © Bird De La Coeur Artchitects

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