Swan Street sizes up: 462-482 Swan Street, Richmond

It's not often you return from an overseas trip to be greeted with a letter from City of Yarra pertaining to a Planning Application for a significant development down the street.

Planners Urbis on behalf of Bamfa Properties has submitted a combined planning permit application and planning scheme amendment to pave the way forward for a significant mixed-use scheme. A 12-storey and 10-storey building with associated 3-storey podia at 462-482 Swan Street is proposed adjacent to Burnley Station on an approximately 4,658sqm site.

The Elenberg Fraser designed scheme replaces five Edwardian cottages and a series of light industrial buildings.

Site Plan. Image courtesy Elenberg Fraser

Overall the site has a 80 metre frontage to Swan Street/Burnley Station and a 57 metre frontage along the Burnley Street service road. The site is currently zoned as Commercial 2 with the amendment seeking a change of use to Commercial 1, befitting the site's role as a gateway to Burnley Station and the Burnley Station Village.

A change in use to Commercial 1 would also help to facilitate a complementary mix of commercial, entertainment, community and residential uses which encourage activity and supports improvements of the public realm.

The applicants argue that the nature of the site, being on a prominent corner adjacent to two key transport corridors lends itself to the building which is argued is in keeping with recommendations of the Swan Street Structure Plan (March 2012).

The Swan Street Structure Plan envisages this site to be the gateway of the Burnley Precinct and an appropriate located for a mixed use high density development.

Urbis Planning Report

The design employs strong curvilinear forms to both podium and L-shaped tower elements, with bronze glazing and planter boxes a feature of the development's primary facades. These combined with vertical timber shading screens provide the building with warmth.

At street level clear gazing allows for visual connection from street to retail tenancies within, while silver glazing provides a counterpoint and contrasting feature to rear facades.

A supermarket with frontage to Swan Street is most prominent, with three smaller tenancies rounding out the retail mix.

Apartment typologies within 462-482 Swan Street range from 96 x 1 bedroom apartments of 45-49sqm; 20 x 1 bedroom+ apartments of 50-59sqm and 127 x 2 bedroom+ apartments of 60-79sqm.

Ground level retail plan. Image courtesy Elenberg Fraser

Car and bicycle parking is limited to lower basement up to level 02 with a wrap of active use (residential or commercial) to the two primary facades of the podium. A shared rooftop garden sits atop level 3 of the podium providing all apartments with some degree of outlook, either to the street or internal rooftop garden area.

462-482 Swan Street application summary

  • 8-10 storey east tower and 10-12 storey west tower
  • Maximum height of 40.95 metres
  • 243 apartments
  • 3-storey podia
  • 3,175sqm supermarket at ground level
  • Smaller retail tenancies of between 71-84sqm, totalling 227sqm
  • Three office tenancies to first floor, 60-250sqm in size
  • 366sqm gymnasium and 348sqm swimming pool
  • 445 carparking spaces and 339 bicycle spaces
  • Eight bike spaces to Swan Street (four bike share) and eight bike spaces to Burnley Street
  • New pedestrian plaza created along Bumley Street and streetscape improvements (including widening) to Swan Street.


As a resident who lives within 200 metres of the proposed development, I support the aspirations of the development. The project presents an opportunity to create a cohesive and coherent streetscape which at present is compromised by the light industrial properties along both Swan and Burnley Streets.

Additionally the development has the potential to act as a catalyst for further streetscape improvements and development to Swan Street west of Burnley Street.

Street level activation to Swan Street and Burnley Street respectively. Image courtesy Elenberg Fraser

In terms of heritage sensitivities, no overlay applies to any of the existing structures which comprise the development site, and the overall benefits to both the passengers accessing Burnley Station and surrounding residents via provision of a supermarket and retail activation to Burnley far outweigh the loss of the Edwardian dwellings.

The site is well serviced both via Burnley Station and the number 75 tram which operates along Swan Street. Further, the eight bicycle spaces proposed to both Burnley and Swan Street - four of which are bike share - reinforce Swan Street as a critical cycling route as well as the site's connectivity to the Yarra City Trail.

462-482 Swan Street development team

  • Developer: Bamfa Properties
  • Architect: Elenberg Fraser
  • Planner: Urbis
  • Traffic: GTA Consultants
  • Waste Management: Leigh Design
  • ESD: Sustainability
  • Landscape Concept: ERM
  • Wind: Vicpac Engineers & Scientists
  • Acoustics: Acoustic Logic


Aussie Steve's picture

If this isn't a prime site for major redevelopment, then I don't know what is.

I'd say the vast majority of land south of Swan Street and east of Church Street (with the exclusion of the properties covered by a heritage overlay), are prime for redevelopment with minimal overshadowing issues with the railway line tot he south. And at the western end, there may be scope to even build over the railway ditch too with 2-3 level buildings fronting Lesney Street and Madden Grove.

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johnproctor's picture

definitely agree Steve.

I was a resident member on the Swan Street Structure Plan community reference group about 4-5 years ago and even at that time people recognised that these sites were ripe for development and from memory the plan identified this specific location as a "Strategic Redevelopment Sites".

Actually just checked and the Structure Plan does identify this land as a "Strategic Revelopment Site with a 10-12 storeys recommended height.

Plan was adopted by Council but from memory not enacted into the scheme as a reference document or similar.

Effectively a reasonably big hurdle for this project passed there due to Council strategic document support.

funnily enough during the CRG process a member of the community asked the Council planners what benefits 'we' (existing residents) get out of density. After the Council planners fumbled around talking about 'sustainability and density and reduced sprawl' I picked up the mantle and used the example of the then new Woolies/Aldi development on Victoria Street as a benefit to the community whereby densification can trigger an improvement in services for existing residents. He immediately got it and was a resident near this area where there was a recognised need for a 'supermarket' (I think the thinking at the time was more a local supermarket in the order of 1000sqm not the full line 3000sqm supermarket proposed as part of this development.

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Bilby's picture

Here is the site now - a totally intact row of Edwardian terraces:

And here is the opposite side of the street - a beautiful old row of commercial Victorian terraces:

Neither are protected by a heritage overlay - and nor is the Rising Sun Hotel on the NE corner of Swan and Burnley Streets. Council has been advised to look at this area for an overlay, but as yet has done nothing.

Now here is a bit of unexpected commentary from me - let's say that there are some merits in redeveloping the (in some ways, rather ordinary) row of terraces. Perhaps even full demolition might be acceptable for a high quality residential redevelopment in this specific location near the railway, etc.

But would an urbanist worth their salt say the same thing about the historic commercial row directly opposite the new development? For my money, absolutely not. Good practice suggests that demolishing rows of fine grain, historic shops is bad for business, bad for residential amenity and generally bad for the city. The opportunities for small specialty shops, cafes, and simply retaining and restoring the superb historic streetscape and old interiors of these places far outweighs their value as a piece of land for yet another resi-block in an area with literally dozens of opportunities for medium density (perhaps even high density) redevelopment without such impacts.

What do others think?

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johnproctor's picture

Tend to agree Bilby.

The Edwardian cottages to me are matched 100 times over across the back streets of the inner suburbs (and actually on the opposite side of Swan Street about 400m east of here in an area where I wouldn't advocate demolition because it is a more residential feel and the row is of 10-20 houses in tact not 4 random houses in a sea of warehouses).... These particular houses have for the 10 years I've lived in Richmond/Collingwood always been poorly maintained/presented given they are on such a busy corner. This is the location to replace 5 terrace houses with 100 apartments, and at this location the presentation to the street and amenity for local residents will probably be improved given some ground floor retail adjacent to tram stop and train station patrons.

It does seem that the other side of the street is the bit that developers find very hard to get right. Its hard to recall a good example of where terrace shop fronts have been replaced with equally fine grain shopfronts suitable for a mix of uses that are locally relevant. Many examples of shift to chain shops, oversized shops, internalised shops, or just vacant shops because the rent is too high.

The Rising Sun had a development proposal about 3 years ago - not sure whats happened there.

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Bilby's picture

Right. So council needs to recognise the value of these strip shopping areas and do a heritage study pronto - otherwise this golden amenity will absolutely be lost to all the thousands of potential new residents from new apartment developments in the area over the next decade.

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johnproctor's picture

agree. Council's have lagged poorly in completing heritage studies and then wonder why they don't have a leg to stand on at VCAT when developments don't take it into account.

I'd be very happy for Wynne to seet up a 'heritage study fund' of a few million dollars for Council's to apply to, to get stuff done. He could even set up a heritage flying squad to go around and deal with the issues at Councils over time.

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