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Footscray's Binks Ford site finally in line for development

Site purchase and demolition for one of Footscray's key renewal sites occurred during 2012. Thereafter the Binks Ford site has seen precious little activity.

But now plans are afoot for an intensive redevelopment of the 9,047sqm plot which abuts the Footscray rail corridor.  Developer AVIC Developments Pty Ltd is seeking the green light for 412 dwellings across four separate residential buildings, with the tallest maxing out at 10 levels.

Dubbed 'Cowper Village' within the application, 34 Cowper Street was sold some years ago by Places Victoria. In a push to regenerate the massive land holding, AVIC Developments Pty Ltd has teamed with architects ClarkeHopkinsClarke. 

34 Cowper Street application summary

The proposed development's northerly aspect. Planning image: ClarkeHopkinsClarke
  • Vacant 9,047sqm site with 166.7m street frontage
  • Proposed residential development of 412 dwellings across 4 separate buildings
  • 16 x townhouses, 192 x 1BR, 194 x 2BR, 10 x SOHO
  • Maximum building height: 10 storeys or 31.7m
  • 4 retail tenancies: total of 518sqm available
  • Provision for 196 vehicles and 84 bicycles
  • Cost of development estimated at $100 million
  • Ground, Level 1 and rooftop green spaces

Current plans for 34 Cowper Street are modest from a height perspective, relative to a number of earlier site-specific designs created (as seen below), and relative to the scale of development throughout the adjacent Joseph Road Precinct.

Indeed ClarkeHopkinsClarke's initial submission for 34 Cowper Street was significantly higher; 7 levels have been lopped from earlier plans in order to comply with preferred building heights under local built form guidelines. The loss of 7 levels hasn't demonstrably affected to total project apartment yield, with 33 less dwellings across the project.

Further design changes following Maribyrnong City Council's initial feedback also see a reworked open space plaza, enhanced pedestrian connectivity and amendments to the internal laneway.

Site concepts by Plus Architecture and Peddle Thorp Architects which advanced no further.

With Jospeh Road Precinct all but accounted for, and the Kinnears site ready for its sales launch, 34 Cowper Street is the last of Footscray's 'super sites' to enter planning. Beyond the Binks Ford redevelopment, smaller-scale blocks such as Ryco at 11-19 Whitehall Street and the 501 Receptions site at 501 Barkly Street represent the next largest development sites in the pipeline.

The additions of 34 Cowper Street to the Urban Melbourne Project Database boosts the overall number of apartments monitored by Urban Melbourne within Footscray to an impressive 7,400. This figure is spread across 37 separate projects, with the majority of apartments found within Joseph Road Precinct.

Of those 7,400 plus apartments under 500 are at construction, alluding to the massive growth in Footscray's population that awaits.

A broadside development perspective. Planning image: ClarkeHopkinsClarke

34 Cowper Street development team

  • Developer: AVIC Development Pty Ltd
  • Architect & Urban Context: ClarkeHopkinsClarke
  • Planning: Hellier McFarland
  • Traffic Engineering: Traffix Group
  • Waste Management: Leigh Design
  • Sustainable Management Plan: F2 Design
  • Environmental Noise Assessment: Marshall Day
  • Wind Assessment : MEL Consultants
  • Landscape Plan: MDG Landscape Architects
  • Statement of Environmental Audit: Golder Associates
  • Social Impact Assessment: Ratio Consultants

9 comments

zenith's picture

The other long term dormant site is 2 Hopkins St, across the street. The last scheme I saw is the generically titled Hopkins Landing. Interesting to see what has become of that proposal.

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George D's picture

I hope their soundproofing is good. Otherwise, this is a welcome addition to the area.

VicRoads will have to sort out a very serious pedestrian situation shortly though. There's one tiny footpath, and 7400 dwellings. It's dangerous now, this will make it worse.

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Martin Mankowski's picture

Oh what might have been. The PV plan spanning the railway tracks was truly spectacular; this is just Beacon Cove on steroids. This is right in the heart of the Footscray Activity Zone, right next to a station. If you can't get density here, what hope is there? Another victory for a NIMBY fearing council.

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George D's picture

There's huge density occurring in this very area.

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Len's picture

What could have been an opportunity to better link the old Footscray with the new and the Maribyrnong river beyond becomes The Great Wall of Footscray all because Government Agencies (VicTrack, Places & VicRoads) couldn't / wouldn't collaborate / get out of the way of each other.

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zenith's picture

I'd hardly call Maribyrnong a NIMBY council.

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Martin Mankowski's picture

They fought tooth and nail against some of the density in Maribyrnong and Footscray, especially in the Josephs Rd precinct. Fortunately a lot of it was approved whilst final say was still with the Planning Minister. Just look at the difference for this site between what PV had planned and whats approved - that speaks volumes about where their heart lies.

Len is right - this is a victory for bureaucracy over the best outcome.

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johnproctor's picture

the places Vic plan was probably never viable.

sorry to say but there is a reason almost no overtrack development exists in Melbourne. It is still the case where developing adjacent land is more profitable than building a deck at great expense to create a pad for OSD.

It doesn't stack up in Richmond/Prahan/South Yarra places with higher land values than Footscray, so why would it stack up here?

I still agree this approved development is rubbish. But the PV proposal was a pipe dream.

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Martin Mankowski's picture
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