Image © Pandolfini Architects

In a tight spot > 22-24 Wells Place, Southbank

When a planning application seeks to insert an apartment tower on a site with no discernable view lines, it warrants a closer look. At 16 levels, 22-24 Wells Place Southbank is by no means a monstrous tower, but it is interesting nonetheless.

With frontage only to Wells Place, itself not much more than a secluded laneway, the development will be hemmed in from all sides. West sees 22-24 Wells Place's views obscured by the recently completed Guilfoyle Apartments complex while southern views are inhibited by 10-16 Dorcas Street, save for the highest levels.

Easterly sight lines are impeded by 320 St Kilda Road and will only be compounded further by the approved 20 level, 180 apartment 25-27 Coventry Street development which may start in the near future according to Melbourne City Council's Development Activity Monitor.

That of course leaves prized northern views to Southbank and Melbourne's CBD, currently in tact although for how long? This northern panorama seems destined to evaporate as well given the approved 33 Coventry Street (which Urban Melbourne touched upon mid last year) lies to the site directly north.

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As you can see in the cross sections below the intended development is extremely close to its northern and western neighbours, with the southerly Dorcas building within spitting distance as well.

It will be an interesting decision handed down by Melbourne City Council in due course. Factors such as tower setback requirements, the lack of a podium, amenity (namely view lines), adequate natural light and ventilation plus adequate street level activation will need to be considered.

Included within the planning documents are legal machinations highlighting the implications of VCAT's decision in approving the adjoining 33 Coventry Street proposal. VCAT's decision in effect sets a precedent for the area that is in direct contrast to Melbourne City Council's Design and Development Overlay; a precedent which the proponents of 22-24 Wells Place will likely wish to exploit.

Far more learned people than I will find resolution in what may turn into a messy approvals process; none the less it will be interesting to view the recommendations and decisions surrounding this application.

The development itself is the first entry on Urban Melbourne's database for Pandolfini Architects. At the behest of site owner and established Melbourne developer Headland Properties, the embryonic Melbourne architecture firm has devised an interesting tower. With shades of the former Jetset Building on Bourke Street it carries a retro look, yet with a contemporary twist by way of coloured perforated metal screens.

Owing to the small site size, car park entry via Wells Place leads directly onto a turn table with a car lift located behind. Levels 1-4 are split between a solitary 1 bedroom apartment and parking for two vehicles while subsequent levels consist of full floor apartments with ceiling heights of 3.15 metres.

Overall the project holds 16 apartments, complimented by 15 bicycle bays and 14 car parks. A residential foyer fronting Wells Place will be adorned with a public art/light installation display and cover an area of 12 square metres while a roof top terrace includes a open air spa and garden area.

Should this tower find approval and advance to construction it will be interesting to see how the appointed builder manages the delivery and materials lift aspects. Wells Place seems marginal at best as a loading bay given its mid block location and narrow dimensions; some innovative construction techniques would be called for.

With the application both received and placed on display by Melbourne City Council in the new year, it will be some time before any final result for 22-24 Wells Place is revealed.



Paolo's picture

This has been refused by council yesterday.

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Mark Baljak's picture

Paolo do you know if any reasons were given for refusal?

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Paolo's picture

Hey Mark, I just saw it in the register. I haven't checked it yet why it was refused.

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