Gunnersen's radical Fishermans Bend intentions in limbo?

Timber merchant Gunnersen looks to have stumbled in an initial bid to revamp its Port Melbourne headquarters into a multi-towered residential development.

As City of Port Phillip tabled a less than glowing report on the proposal last week, the project's status on the State Planning Register has been adjusted to 'on hold'. A planning application for the massive 17,500sqm site was lodged during April, lasting only a handful of months until it was recently placed in hiatus.

Under plans devised by ARM Architecture the entire site would be cleared, including an office building which is graded as a significant Heritage place, in favour of six buildings of between 12 and 18 storeys. 

Located within the Wirraway precinct of Fishermans Bend, 112 Salmon Street is one of three separate applications lodged within the Urban Renewal Area this year. Planning activity has this year slowed to a crawl within Fishermans Bend, as the State Government looks to solidify planning controls for the Urban Renewal Area.

112 Salmon Street application summary

North East perspective. Planning image: ARM Architecture
  • Existing use: Timber yard
  • Site area: 17,552 with 3 street frontages
  • Proposed: 6 buildings between 12-18 storeys, maximum height 57.55m
  • 636 apartments:  289 x 1BR,162 x 2BR, 185 x 3BR
  • Tower separation: 19.65m and above between all towers
  • 603 car parking spaces and 689 bicycle bays
  • Public facilities: 4,600sqm including play equipment, park and sport courts beneath electricity lines
  • Resident facilities: Dual rooftop podium open spaces, gym, pool, yoga room, resident lounge
  • 370sqm of retail space within 2 tenancies, 605sqm childcare centre

A finish like no other

ARM Architecture have brought their typical design flair to the initial application.

Brick snap cladding in ten different colours/finishes (black glazed, black, blue, cream, orange, grey terracotta, pink, and brick face, and terracotta screen) forms the bulk of the design's exterior, along with timber cladding, timber and painted steel detailing, steel piping, black steel window reveals, clear and fritted glazing.

Complying with the DDO30 maximum building height, podium height and tower separation requirements, the application delivers a site plot ration of 5:1.

Port Phillip's take on the application

City of Port Phillip's report on 112 Salmon Street is informal in that it is not binding and is considered advisory. Nonetheless various aspects that City of Port Phillip chose to highlight may explain why the planning application has been placed on hold at the State lavel.

Under the Fishermans Bend Strategic Framework Plan (September 2016), 112 Salmon Street is identified as the land appropriate for Neighbourhood Open Space. Key to this assertion are the "high voltage electricity transmission lines which reduce the sites appropriateness / desirability for residential development."

In the line of power. Planning image: ARM Architecture

The proposal was internally referred and officers raised concerns including inconsistency with the FBSFP identification of the site as Open Space, inconsistency with local policy for employment and affordable housing, the extent of demolition, the design and/or width of the internal road network, building setbacks...and architectural and urban design matters.

Open space areas along the southern perimeter of the land and podium roof top level would be overshadowed through most of the day, and would have reduced amenity as a result of being beneath or in close proximity to major electricity transmission lines.

Officers disagree with the applicant’s arguments for demolition of all of the buildings on the land, and believe the existing offices and one of the existing industrial buildings are suitable for retention and adaptive reuse, as part of any mixed use or open space development of the site.

It is considered these concerns cannot be ameliorated by conditions to modify the proposal and the development of the land needs to be fundamentally reconsidered having regard to the Strategic Framework Plan and Fishermans Bend Vision.

Development & Planning

Friday, March 16, 2018 - 00:00
As reported in The Age late last month speculation is growing that developer Cbus Property is leading the charge to acquire a combined development site at 140-150 Queen Street and 27 McKillop Street. This would follow what would appear to be a pre-emptive purchase of a neighbouring site at 423 Bourke Street, which an 11-storey office block currently occupies.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Sunday, March 11, 2018 - 13:00
The Victorian Government has announced it will ban the use of aluminium cladding panels that have a polyethylene core of more than 30% and expanded polystyrene will also be banned on buildings with 3 or more levels. The changes were announced by the Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, on Saturday morning along with new guidelines for building surveyors.

Visual Melbourne

Monday, February 5, 2018 - 12:00
The various spaces and elements which combine to form RMIT's New Academic Street (NAS) have progressively begun to open to students and visitors alike. I was recently fortunate enough to be part of an informal group tour through the completed spaces within NAS, led by Harrison and White which had a hand in the project.

Transport & Design

Friday, March 16, 2018 - 17:00
Comment There's much to admire about Rodney Maddock's advocacy piece in The Conversation - ' Our growing big cities need new centres of employment - here's Melbourne's chance ' - the three projects he advocates for have been in the public domain for quite a while now.

Sustainability & Environment