Is this the end of the West Melbourne skyscraper?

To be fair, there isn't a particularly large number of genuine skyscrapers planned for West Melbourne, yet should a new structure plan for 3003 be ratified, the likes of 420 Spencer Street seen below will be the exceptions and not the norm.

The West Melbourne Structure Plan (WMSP) last night went before the Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee at City of Melbourne with the intent of seeking endorsement prior to a period of community and stakeholder consultation during July and August. The new plan will go some way to alleviating Council and community concerns regarding the arrival of skyscrapers within West Melbourne; the tallest reaching 38 levels to date.

Consultancy Urbis has provided a concise explanation of the WMSP.

420 Spencer Street is a new high point for West Melbourne

According to Urbis, key takeaway points from the proposed WMSP include:

  • Height and Floor Area Ratio for Spencer, Flagstaff, Adderley and Station Precincts, and retaining mandatory height controls in other areas. Built form controls are also proposed to apply.
  • Rezone key land to Special Use Zone, and require 1:1 employment to residential floor area in Spencer, Station and Flagstaff precincts and 0.5:1 in Adderley Precinct.
  • Establish new activity centres to support new local convenience, and support community and creative infrastructure.
  • Create new open space and high-quality green streets.
  • Require 6% affordable housing as part of developments.

These changes are proposed with the intent of maintaining West Melbourne's character whilst promoting feasible growth.

West Melbourne will play a complementary role to the more intensive areas of development which will surround it into the future. It will retain its identity, diverse areas of character and mix of uses as it evolves.

Its heritage buildings and wide green streets will provide high amenity for residents, as well as commercial and retail opportunity in this distinct, inner urban neighbourhood.

West Melbourne Structure Plan – Draft for Consultation
Proposed changes to the Design and Development Overlay’s in West Melbourne. Image: WMSP

The graphic above demonstrates the new height limits expected to become reality across West Melbourne.

16 levels within the blue shaded Flagstaff Precinct is the maximum height allowable under the proposed changes; a substantial cut in heights relative to a number of towers which currently hold approval in the precinct. Beyond 420 Spencer Street, Deague Group's soon to be built Melbourne Village at 83 Batman Street is the next tallest at 27 levels.

From a development perspective, there are implications for a number of large sites which have been earmarked for development or have yet to head to planning. A lesser development yield can be expected for sites such as the JLL-marketed 404-418 Spencer Street; 16 levels is a far cry from the neighbouring 420 Spencer Street at 38 levels.

Plus Architecture's 407-415 King Street was refused during April

This planning working being undertaken by the City of Melbourne appears to go hand in hand with the council's recent commentary on the West Gate Tunnel project, and the council's belief that it will increase traffic in the CBD.  The West Gate Tunnel project, based on publicly available plans, is to have an intersection/exit with Dynon road which eventually becomes Spencer Street.

Whilst skyscrapers look likely to have no further impact upon West Melbourne's skyline, the suburb is still a major development hot spot relative to other locales.

Urban Melbourne's Project Database is tracking 26 separate residential projects within West Melbourne, with many more thousands of apartments yet to be delivered. These for the most will come in the form of mid-rise projects of between 6-9 levels.

The expectation is that post last night's Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee meeting, the WMSP will be subject to a six week engagement period from today Wednesday 5 July through to Sunday 18 August 2017. 

Further details on the WMSP and the opportunity to provide your feedback is available on the dedicated Participate Melbourne page.


Grampians's picture

Should be 8 or so storey minimum up to 15/16

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PK's picture

It's important to remember that the likes of 420 Spencer St and 83 Batman St are extreme planning exceptions even under the existing West Melbourne Structure Plan (2005). At 131 metres high, 420 Spencer St far exceeded the 40m maximum height allowed for the precinct outlined in the plan. It begs the question as to how they were even given approval in the first place.

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Bilby's picture

What are you basing your analysis of height allowances on, Grampians?

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