Incensing the locals...again!

The majority of those residing in Brunswick are a special type. Equally at home swinging from tree to tree as they are crammed into a period cottage picking knits from others dread locked hair, they're not the type that take kindly to large apartment developments appearing on their doorstep.  For those who recall, 2009-1010 saw approval of a 14 level apartment tower at 284-294 Albert Street, within close proximity to kaleidoscopic Sydney Road.

Put forward by Brisbane-based developer Citimark, the then proposal was received with scorn and consternation from local residents given the proposal nearly doubled the structure plan envelope.  Upon approval, Moreland City Council came in for particular attention due to the community's anger and concern over the council's perceived lack of transparency and failure to notify residents adequately whilst leaving no right of appeal post  final approval. A summary of local residents concerns can be found here.

Fast forward and 284-294 Albert Street has re-emerged in recent weeks with Citimark associate firm CBD Development Group Pty Ltd enlisting Rothe Lowman Architects to deliver a revised tower.

Whilst generally maintaining the same dimensions as the initial approved scheme, the recently submitted amended proposal seeks approval for a mixed use building with one basement level dedicated toward car parking, four concealed above ground car park levels surrounded by 21 retail outlets of varying sizes and uses, restaurants, office space and 236 apartments. 222 car parking spaces are catered for as are 199 bicycle spaces.

Rothe Lowman have endeavored to provide the building's facades with more articulation and in the process have relocated the residents garden from level 1 to level 9 and into direct sunlight.  Mercifully all apartments with bedrooms that relied upon borrowed light have been deleted whilst the northern and western facades feature shading devices where previously there were none.  Without going into mass detail the Rothe Lowman scheme is superior to the initial approved design.

What's likely to raise eyebrows are the nominated increases within the revised planning application for what are essentially same for same buildings.  Apartment numbers increase within the Rothe Lowman design by 28% while vehicle parking increases by 20% and motorbike spaces increase 75%.  Locals may have lost out in size and bulk argument but substantial increases in apartment and vehicle numbers are red rags to a bull as seen in the proceeding paragraphs.

Reported this week was news Moonee Valley Council recently refused the expansion of a landmark tower at 1 Ascot Vale Road, Flemington.  Directly opposite Flemington Racecourse, developer Oz Property Group had sought to include 81 additional apartments and 48 additional car parking spaces within the approved envelope. The current scheme seen in the article slideshow below, was designed by dKO Architecture and carries 219 apartments plus 92 apart-hotel rooms.

1 Ascot Vale Road Felmington was was the latest in a string of proposed developments for the site which included this interesting tree-laden tower some years ago.  Whilst the current design may have been approved for some time, the recent push by Oz Property Group for further changes managed to stir local emotions once more.  Quoted in the Moonee Valley Leader, Flemington Association vice-president stated "We were dismayed by the proposed changes and very relieved the council rejected it...It showed us what we've always known, that they're interested in maximising their profits. They want to crowd as much apartments in that development as possible."

Councillor Jim Cusack outlined the concerns Moonee Valley Council held over increased congestion, parking and infrastructure problems, stating "I appreciate that the developer thought 'if we're not changing the outside of the building it's okay'. Well, it's not okay."

Moral of the story - you can't stop progress but you sure can piss a few locals off in the process.  As with most things in life, finding a balance is the key.

Equinox Flemington - ground level perspective. Image © dKO Architecture
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