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We say, they say > 171-183 Ferrars Street, South Melbourne

A Fishermans Bend planning application of heightened interest has passed through the planning process in recent months, with the pending decision eagerly anticipated by City of Port Phillip in particular. Voicing concerns that the project if approved as is would establish a precedent for other buildings to exceed the preferred yet non binding height limit for the land parcel, City of Port Phillip have requested that the Metropolitan Planning Authority impose a number of conditions upon the development.

171-183 Ferrars Street application summary

171-183 Ferrars Street hero perspective. Image courtesy DCM
  • Current site use: dual level office complex.
  • Developer: Portal.
  • Architect: Denton Corker Marshall.
  • 24 levels at 82.5 metres in height.
  • 122 apartments.
  • 42 car spaces, one motorcycle space and 39 bicycle spaces.
  • Pedestrian link, restaurant and bar over ground level layout.
  • Through link bridge to light rail platform.

City of Port Phillip says

City of Port Phillip released a media statement late November regarding the proposal, excerpts of which are seen below.

Port Phillip Council will ask the Metropolitan Planning Authority to reduce the height of a planned tower near the proposed Ferrars Street primary school in South Melbourne to avoid setting a concerning precedent. Councillors decided at a Statutory Planning Committee Meeting last night to advise the MPA that the 24 storey building proposed by the developer was inconsistent with the 18-storey limit recommended in the State Government’s Strategic Framework Plan.

“This height is more than 30 per cent higher than the preferred building scale for this area and would set a precedent for other buildings to exceed 18-storeys,” Mayor Amanda Stevens said. “While the SFP provides discretion to exceed the maximum preferred height, Council believes new planning approvals should reflect the area and not detract from the liveability of this growing community.”

“Council is also concerned about the cumulative impact of this sort of density on the general character and congestion of the Fishermans Bend community.”

City of Port Phillip media release

According to planning documents 171-183 Ferrars Street abuts a four storey (15m) preferred height precinct to the south, and is also opposite to an eight storey (27m) preferred height precinct. With non binding Framework Plan Design Guidelines recommending a tower of 18 levels or 60 metres and a school earmarked nearby on Ferrars Street, City of Port Phillip believe the current design would be out of context.

Railway Place through link. Image courtesy DCM

Victorian Design Review Panel response

Denton Corker Marshall presented their scheme to the Victorian Design Review Panel during 2014 with the following text providing contrast to City of Port Phillip's stance.

This proposal is for a rationally resolved building offering an elegant and appropriate design for the site. It establishes a benchmark for Fishermans Bend, given the clear commercial objectives of use, apartment amenity and approach to car parking are all carefully considered and offer enhancement of the standard podium/tower model.

We support the logic informing the resultant design quality of this proposal and anticipate it could be a building that contributes positively to the South Melbourne streetscape.

The proposed height of 23 storeys is above the 18 storey discretionary limit identified in the Framework Plan. Without clear direction on the nature and extent of discretionary height decisions, the additional 5 storeys was supported on the basis that it created a more slender and elegant building.

The idea of a link from Ferrars Street through the northern side of the ground floor is supported as an innovative proposal. The creation of a new street link through the continuation of Thistlethwaite Street to Railway Place is a positive contribution to the precinct.

Geoffrey London, Victorian Government Architect

As it stands

City of Port Phillip have indicated in principle support for the project to deciding body the Metropolitan Planning Authority, although it will be subject to a number of stipulations should they get their way. Chief among these will be the reduction of height to 18 levels or 60 metres and that the first floor through link be deleted from the design.

As with many other proposals for Fishermans Bend awaiting an outcome, the Metropolitan Planning Authority is expected to deliver its verdict on 171-183 Ferrars Street, South Melbourne in the first quarter of 2015.

1 comment

Riccardo's picture

height is not just a architectural feature or a planning issue, but fundamentally about urban economics, something that is often lost on this forum.

Let's face it, Australia is marginally viable as an economy, with little of value, low returns and high costs. It needs all the help it can get. This includes not standi in the way of people putting up tall buildings.

If architects and planners understood economics, they would know it is all about scarcity. Adding to stock reduces price pressure and adds to consumer wellbeing. And opportunities are few, and don't allow us to throw away excellent sites within a few kms of the traditional cbds

No good the kids going to school in fisho if there are no jobs at the end of it. The one lesson they need, and some people associated with this forum, who support the nimby councils (i worry they give evidence to vcat in this vein) also need this lesson: mendicant nations like ours can't be choosers.

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