The second attempt by Goodyear Properties to raise a tower from a high-profile Elizabeth Street site has hit a stumbling block with a Report to the Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee asserting the proposal should be objected to, with multiple concerns cited. Published online in recent days, the report acts as a basis to which City of Melbourne will take a formal stance on the proposal, which holds frontage to both Elizabeth Street and Franklin Street.
While the current application is marginally shorter than the previous Peddle Thorp design, apartment yield has risen sharply from 306 to 445 dwellings. The design too has taken an about turn with a green glazing and mesh facades replacing a punctured white precast edifice which defined the initial proposal.
While the Minister for Planning is the responsible authority for determining the application, Richard Wynne's public determination that more weight be placed in City of Melbourne's assessment of a given project may point toward another disappointing outcome for Goodyear Properties.
Where the initial planning application sought to facade the Royal Saxon Hotel, the revised scheme would see the contemporary build detached from the original hotel’s form and volume according to the associated heritage impact statement. In contrast to the initial plans, the revised tower has maintained a greater setback to the Elizabeth Street frontage, while both original and new structures would retain separate footprints.
The project will retain the original building and proposes demolition of the later annexes and rear yard wall only. New development will be up to the north and west boundaries, and will jut at high level over the hotel’s west end. The rear section of 138-141 Franklin Street will be demolished, a front section of building to a depth of 6 metres will be retained including the bluestone and brick facade and the much re-worked east boundary to the laneway.
The main physical affects will be the building repair, maintenance, and reconstruction of original detail which is integral to understanding the building’s age, appearance and use. The former hotel will be restored to an earlier known appearance. The condition and external envelope will be consolidated and improved from its current state.
The interior spaces and rooms may be opened up to a resemblance of the original cellular composition. The upper level fitouts shall be stripped out revealing anew the hotel’s original planning and internal arrangement.
Michael Taylor Architecture & Heritage
Council's report on the planning application urges that City of Melbourne object to the proposal in its current form. Citing a number of inherent and undesirable planning outcomes with the proposal, the report is best summed by the below excerpts:
The proposal is a gross overdevelopment of the site that fails to respond to the policy provisions of the Melbourne Planning Scheme. It will overwhelm the existing heritage buildings on the site and represents a significant departure from the height controls set out under the DDO. The proposal provides for poor internal amenity and will significantly inhibit the development potential of adjoining sites.
Further, if the development were approved in its current form it would set an unacceptable precedent for development in this area that could conceivably be replicated on adjoining sites.Report to the Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee, 14 April 2015
The site in question is of a size and orientation that doesn't lend itself to being a particularly easy design to deliver, nonetheless there's something very awkward about the proposal.
Peddle Thorp has persisted in a particular architectural 'language' which sees perforated mesh screens shrouding the exterior. First used on The Guild and more recently The Vic (seen below), the finish may well be excellent for sun shading and privacy, but does little for design intrigue or activation over 441-451 Elizabeth Street's lower levels.
The solid elements running the height of the tower also detract from a design, but then again this proposal wouldn't be the first to employ such a trait. Compared to other recent Peddle Thorp designs 441-451 Elizabeth Street is middle of the road at best.
On a positive note the revised plans would see a new east west pedestrian laneway running along the southern boundary of the site. This laneway would link with the under construction Fulton Lane, providing a direct connection to Elizabeth Street.