The issue of air rights has been given heightened media attention in recent times, principally due to Yarra House within South Yarra's Forrest Hill Precinct where developer Michael Yates purchased apartments in the adjoining low-rise building. This in turn secures the right to veto any future development, thus protecting Yarra House's views.
Air rights and appropriate development is also at the crux of a dispute headed to VCAT, where Albert Road-based Evolve Development is seeking to amend an already approved scheme for 25-27 Coventry Street, so as to expand the tower's built form above the neighbouring property. Having purchased the Southbank site with approval in place for a 22 level residential building, Evolve Development have subsequently secured air rights above the adjoining 21-23 Coventry Street.
Our client has also purchased the air rights of the eastern adjoining property and a subdivision permit obtained to amalgamate this land. It is noted that the permit contained Condition 1 (f), which required the built form to be set back from the eastern boundary at least 4.5 metres from the eastern boundary at Level 5 and above. This requirement was due to Council's concerns in relation to the proposed development restricting the future development potential of the adjoining land, in particular any restrictions on east facing apartments in any future development of that land.SJB Planning document to VCAT excerpt, April 2015
The purchase of the air rights over 21-23 Coventry Street has resulted in an expansion of the built form to the east from Level 5 upwards. This has had consequential effects on the layout of apartments at these levels. Particularly, the apartments located in the south east quadrant of the building from Level 5 to Level 20 have been reoriented to ensure appropriate setbacks from the properties to the south and west and to ensure adequate daylight access to all habitable rooms.
Evolve No.21 Pty Ltd now seeks permission to pursue an amended development strategy which incorporates the air rights over 21-23 Coventry Street to the east and which better reflects current inner urban housing market trends.SJB Planning document to VCAT excerpt, April 2015
The reworked SJB Architects design seeks to bump up apartments numbers by an additional 72 over the initial scheme which was given the nod via City of Melbourne during 2013. This is principally achieved by increasing studio dwellings from 8 to 99 within the amended proposal, at the cost of two bedroom dwellings which decrease by 20.
While the design still adheres to the DDO60 height limit, the external look has been drastically altered with the addition of balconies to the eastern facade. It's argued within the documents that the balconies which overhang the adjoining 21-23 Coventry street will aid in the retention of both on-site and off-site amenity.
Evolve Development currently have the project listed on their website as valued at $140 million and holding a completion date of 2017. It's fair to assume both these figures will change.
The building form varies on each of its four elevations, relating to the immediate neighbouring conditions, whilst the use of varied colours and materiality presents a continuity and connection to the surroundings.
The north elevation presents an elegant tower on a setback podium with expressed columns that lightly anchor the elevation to the ground. Laneway access provided at the rear of the site along Wells Lane ensures flexibility and street activation of Coventry Street by way of tenancy and residential lobby interface. Street canopies, individually expressed between columns, break up the podium providing a human scale in the current streetscape rhythm while providing protection from the elements.
The tower is expressed in distinctive elements to provide visual interest and articulation. A recessed floor plan is incorporated at level 5 to distinguish the podium from the tower above. This break in the facade is introduced to respond to the height of the parapet of 312 St Kilda Road to the east, and the fagade composition of 35-37 Coventry Street to the west. The western elevation incorporates an angled setback to individual apartments facing south-west to protect the amenity of existing residents to the south and future neighbours to the west.
The south elevation is set back in response to the proximity of the residential tower at 6-8 Dorcas Street to the south.SJB Planning
25-27 Coventry Street would join Evolve Development's initial Southbank project, The Guilfoyle at 39 Coventry Street. LU Simon Builders completed the $190 million tower during 2013, which holds 353 apartments spanning 21 levels. SJB Architects were also responsible for the design of The Guilfoyle.
Currently fellow developer VIMG have sold in excess of 70% of Coventry Haus located at 33 Coventry Street, which will see the project head to construction shortly. Designed by Jackson Clement Borrows, the tower began life considerably shorter but was expanded upon VIMG's purchase of the site to the maximum allowable height.
The 'secondary' Southbank apartment market has proven popular in recent years with a string of apartment tower completions falling between Coventry and Dorcas, as witnessed by Sunday Apartments, Elm and the aforementioned Guilfoyle.
Waiting in the wings are the approved 68-70 Dorcas Street, 58-66 Dorcas Street and potentially 25-27 Coventry Street which between them would pump a further 1000 apartments into the tail end of Southbank.