C270 on show: the case studies of 42 Moray Street and 130 Little Collins Street

Two evidentiary documents published by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) in recent times have provided insight into the effects of Amendment C270 upon key proposed development sites.

Located in both Southbank and the CBD, either site would be considerably hamstrung in terms of the project size and subsequent design outcomes, should the respective developers choose to proceed with their potential projects.

With Southbank and the Melbourne CBD subject to revised planning overlays, the reports both outline the case for their respective sites, whilst also intending to inform the Planning Panel established by Planning Minister Richard Wynne in relation to Amendment C270.

42 Moray Street and 11-13 Hancock Street, Southbank

June 2016 Report

On behalf of entity Capital 8 Pty Ltd, Peddle Thorp Architects were engaged during April 2015 to assess the merits of redevelopment of the Southbank plot.

In the works was a substantial tower consisting of 520 apartments set above an activated ground level, two commercial levels, community levels and podium car parking which would see apartments begin above the adjoining West Gate Freeway. The design allowed for 5 metre setbacks to both street boundaries.

Similar in scale to nearby approvals, the tower was to intended to provide maximum capture for ‘off the grid’ solar energy generation, usage and storage; essentially designed to become Australia's first substantially ‘off the grid’ solar and wind energy generating mixed use tower.

According to the document, the proposal was prepared prior to the introduction of the original DDO10 C262 and the proposed C270, but not submitted.

Initial and compliant Moray Street outcomes. Image: Peddle Thorp Architects

Key points for the report authored by Peddle Thorp's Design Director, Peter Brook include:

I believe that, in their current form, the regulations are confusing and in many aspects compromise the design and innovation potential of projects. The blanket application of these regulations across the entire CBD and Southbank, without recognition and accommodation of well known physical and geological differences both within and between these precincts will, in my view, lead to poor design outcomes to the detriment of all stakeholders.

We subsequently prepared a study of a ‘compliant’ scheme for comparison and concluded that the clients objectives for the site could not be met. This demonstrated that our interpretation of DDO 10 in every sense diminished the design potential of the site and the inflexible way that it was drafted made it impossible to respond to the specific constraints and issues presented in this Southbank Precinct.

The process of preparing this amended design has again demonstrated that DDO 10 and the proposal of C270 in their current forms do not allow the best response to the site.

In concluding the report Peter Brook recommends a number of changes to the current planning policy, allowing essentially for greater flexibility within the planning framework.

Moray Street at full height. Image: Peddle Thorp Architects

130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

July 2016 Report

Former Bates Smart Executive Chairman Roger Poole was enlisted to provide independent architectural and urban design evidence as to the appropriateness of Amendment C270 upon 130 Little Collins Street.

Set over a 665sqm corner site, the plot is home to the Uniting Church Centre which was constructed during 1961. Elenberg Fraser has been nominated as a prospective joint venture partner for the possible development, and have provided indicative documentation for a possible development.

Comparative schemes for the site show a preferred outcome of 33 levels with an indicative height of 100 metres, as opposed to the compliant scheme which would yield a tower of 18 levels or 55 metres. The compliant scheme is a literal translation of Amendment C270, and according to Roger Poole leads to the likelihood of small, inefficient and potentially unworkable floorplates.

Conversely, the preferred outcome is assessed to provide a superior outcome in terms of floorplate efficiency, air rights, views and design attractiveness.

Comparative schemes. Image: Elenberg Fraser

Key comments within the report as delivered by Roger Poole:

The history of architectural-design-by-setback as it were, is neither a happy or distinguished one. Planning scheme provisions which are simple and easily administered can have very unfortunate, unintended architectural and urban design consequences unless there are provisions for some flexibility based on performance criteria.

It would be most unfortunate if the literal application of Amendment C270 would compromise or destroy the development potential of smaller sites such as 130 Little Collins Street.

If equitable development rights are to be protected in the administration of planning and urban design policy, then I believe that Amendment C270 needs to provide greater flexibility to allow for the reasonable development potential for sites such as 130 Little Collins Street.


Adam Ford's picture

?? So we have two DEVELOPERS REPS saying "aww you've ruined my site"
By which Peter Brook means "the client wants the MAXIMAL number of apartment sales, now no longer possible". No evidence provided as to why or how any issues exist. Just, aww well WE did another draft scheme and WE decided the client's objectives could no longer be met." Which makes it sound like the client's objectives were something like "I want to walk away from this with a seven figure profit."

The author bemoans the inability to provide off-grid generation under the new regime, but has very conspicuously failed to explain how c270 is the cause of that. That would, I'd have thought be something you'd be arguing as a 'public realm benefit' offset if you were actually genuine about getting this project up.

From there, we move on to 130 lt Collins, where the new metric is "floorplate efficiency" lol.
And I'm sure the good folks who erected Phoenix are falling around on the floor right now.

This article is basically developer rhetoric regurgitated without any critical analysis at all.

I'll be REALLY happy when someone here writes an article the next time a developer makes a massive windfall profit sitting on a site for ten years then flipping it, suggesting that they haven't done anything to deserve that money and they should be forced to donate it to the public purse.

Because otherwise, with "the Minister's actions have shaved maybe 2 mill profit off the completely speculative purchase I made a decade ago" you can cry me the flipping Amazon.

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Mark Baljak's picture

Make of my article what you will but to explain away the expert evidence tendered on these two sites as architects merely doing the bidding of developers is particularly stupid.

Read the two reports and understand that both as an overall theme seek greater flexibility within the rigidity of Amendment C270, for both their respective sites and over Southbank/CBD as a whole.

The reports very much focus on design merit, or lack thereof within regimented planning restrictions, and the quotes in my article reflect this.

As is your way you've taken my interpretation down a very different be it.

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Melbourne_Fragments's picture

perhaps the owners of 11 Hancock Street can actually come up with a decent setback design that incorporates one of the few remaining historic buildings in Southbank..

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Rohan Storey's picture

This article if taken at face value, especially by just looking at the images, somewhat misrepresents the first report, and the second report underplays the reasons for the new controls.

As you note, but don't highlight, the first report on the Moray Street site mainly makes the point that the controls do not allow flexibility for various factors at play there, especially whether or not a setback from a boundary up against a freeway is really necessary, and how plot ratios should be measured (and no i dont think they should include above ground carparks or amenity areas). What that report doesn't do is explore any of the 'floor area uplift' currently on offer such as providing office space or affordable housing, so just comparing what they first designed with a 'compliant; scheme isnt really very helpful.

The second report concerns a very small site squeezed between existing taller buildings, where achieving a workable floorplate whilst providing the now expected 10m separation between towers doenst appear possible. Showing how apartments might be provided that dont look straight into other apartments / hotel rooms 6m away might have helped, but that isnt explored.

I think the reports are very useful, and certainly the department should have done some more case studies, and considered such issues as exactly how to measure floor area, whether freeway boundaries make a difference, whether existing towers actually have blank walls (not on the boundary) or non-habitable walls facing the proposed new one, and whether plot ratios should be same on every site, rather than perhaps higher adjacent to an open space like a freeway (or a park) or lower in an area where less dense development is warranted.

But yes I think it is perfectly reasonable to be saying that some sites are not now developable, and that really they never should have been - in fact it was the department ignoring existing 'guidelines' that suggested 10m minimum separation (preferably 24) between towers and the rather minimum plot-ratio-per-block that got us into the mess of 40 storey towers separated by 6m gaps with eternally dark apartments at the bottom in the first place !

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