JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

High-rise push to halt urban sprawl

Date

Marika Dobbin and Dewi Cooke

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Melbourne's planning system broken

Planning experts sound the alarm, saying the state government's hands-off approach to urban planning is a recipe for disaster.

PT0M0S 620 349

SKYSCRAPERS have been declared the answer to Melbourne's urban sprawl by two leading developers, with both revealing plans for more towers as the city struggles to cope with a surging population.

Developer Lorenz Grollo, whose family co-owns the Rialto Towers on Collins Street, is planning to build more skyscrapers modelled on the iconic building.

Click here for a Multimedia special on Project Melbourne

Better use of available city land has been identified as a key to maintaining Melbourne's liveability - and halting urban sprawl.

Better use of available city land has been identified as a key to maintaining Melbourne's liveability - and halting urban sprawl.

And Tony Brady, the developer of Melbourne's next skyscraper, says he will take on more high-rise projects once his 67-storey development on the site of the old Stork Hotel on Elizabeth Street - scheduled to begin this year - is finished.

Mr Brady, who specialises in residential developments, has three other mid-sized towers of more than 30 storeys under construction, but says he is looking to go higher.

The developers have declared their intentions as The Age today launches a series examining how Melbourne's planners will cope with a predicted population of 7 million by 2050, an increase of more than 3 million people.

Better use of available city land has been identified as a key to maintaining Melbourne's liveability, and halting urban sprawl.

But the skyscraper plans drew immediate criticism from designers including high-profile urban planner Rob Adams, director of Design and Culture for the City of Melbourne.

Professor Adams, a leading voice in the push for more targeted low-rise developments across the city, said high-rise developments often had more to do with profitability and image than ''sensible'' town planning.

''Really what it is about is buying the land as cheaply as you can and then maximising the development on it. That's all about dollars. It's got nothing to do with good design or sustainability, it's all about economics,'' he said.

High-rise buildings tended to be less environmentally efficient than low-rises, he said, and greater housing density could still be achieved without the need for more towers.

Mr Grollo would not reveal specific plans for a new tower, but said he was looking for high-profile Melbourne sites that could accommodate skyscrapers. ''We are looking at some potential developments in the future which are largely modelled on Rialto,'' he said.

''Skyscrapers are part of Melbourne's future without a doubt. With population increasing, density in building and cities is critical.''

Mr Grollo argued that there was ''a better, greener outcome when you get a bigger mass on the one footprint''.

''Having said that, it needs to take into consideration the right urban design and how the building sits within its context of a wider precinct. You can't just build tall buildings for the sake of it,'' Mr Grollo said.

''I'm certainly not a believer in massive towers like in Dubai, that's bordering on ridiculous, but you go to New York and the average buildings there are 50-odd storeys. Just because of our land mass here, 50 storeys seems very high.''

Mr Brady also argued that skyscrapers were the answer to urban sprawl in Melbourne.

''If you've got all these people coming in, the only thing that will stop urban sprawl is to build more skyscrapers because if you don't spread up you've got to spread out,'' he said.

Architect and heritage consultant Nigel Lewis warned against further skyscrapers in the Melbourne CBD, calling instead for a moratorium on high-rise developments in key city precincts such as Flinders Lane, Chinatown, and Swanston and Bourke streets.

He said if developers wanted to build more skyscrapers, maybe they should do so at Docklands where they could ''have fun and compete with each other about who can build the biggest … Perhaps the more stuff they put there the better at this stage.''

Skyscrapers are expensive to build and hard to finance because they cannot be done in stages. When it was completed in 2006, the Eureka Tower at Southbank became the city's tallest building at 297 metres (91 storeys), eclipsing the Rialto at 242 metres (60 storeys).

Height restrictions vary between the city's precincts and can be specific: one planning control for the City of Melbourne permits a maximum height of 23 metres for new buildings, to allow the Parliament buildings to remain ''visually dominant''.

Out of the city, each local government has its own planning scheme with its own height controls and neighbourhood considerations, further adding to the complexity of high-rise development.

91 comments

  • If these developers get their way, Melbourne will become a forest of skyscrapers instead of a garden city. We are losing too many of our parks to sports venues and other developments. And why are we allowing increased migration to Melbourne ahead of fixing our transport woes??? If the Brumby government backs this plan, it will give me another reason to vote against them.

    Commenter
    carltongt
    Date and time
    March 16, 2010, 5:44AM
    • I don't know why anyone would want to live in these high-rise developments. They're so poorly constructed and the walls so thin that you know everything that your neighbours are doing. You might as well just knock the walls down and live in a mass communal floor for all the privacy you get.

      Commenter
      Kat
      Date and time
      March 16, 2010, 5:51AM
      • Another solution to urban sprawl would be to stop importing so many peolple into the country. It beggars belief that a city suffering in so many ways from the effects of overpopulation should continue to bring in so many new imigrants.
        Of course town planning is important, but so is population planning, and the the current plan to massively increase the population is a bad one.

        Commenter
        Andrew
        Location
        Reservoir
        Date and time
        March 16, 2010, 5:55AM
        • A surging population is a political choice. not an inevitability. Showw me a political party that believes in low immigraiton and I'll show you the next government.

          Commenter
          ppad
          Location
          Warrandyte
          Date and time
          March 16, 2010, 6:25AM
          • Reduce population growth - then there will be no need for battery hen living.

            Commenter
            Suzy
            Location
            Melbourne
            Date and time
            March 16, 2010, 6:43AM
            • "If the Brumby government backs this plan, it will give me another reason to vote against them."

              And vote for who? No party is against high immigration, it's what businesses want, and that's what's driving the level.

              Commenter
              Bill
              Location
              Melbourne
              Date and time
              March 16, 2010, 6:45AM
              • The city needs to re-think the availability of resources. We don't have enough natural water now to sustain the current population, our electricity is generated by high-polluting plants, the healthcare system is in almost terminal meltdown, the trains don't work, the roads are becoming gridlocked - what are our taxes being spent on? plans to cram our dysfunctional city with yet more people.

                Perhaps the number plates on our cars should now read:
                Vic - dysfunctional across all services!

                Commenter
                jjackson
                Date and time
                March 16, 2010, 6:51AM
                • This population growth is insane. While developers rake it in and politicians bask in the glow of fraudulent economic growth figures, the quality of life in this city spirals ever downward. Increasing population means less water, poorer water quality, less affordable property, longer and more stressful commutes, fewer, smaller and more crowded parks, increasing crime and ghettos, reduced social cohesion and mobility, more pollution, environmental stress and less farmland. Melbourne is becoming more and more like the abysmal Los Angeles every day because of stupid, greedy short sighted politicians.

                  Commenter
                  Rick
                  Date and time
                  March 16, 2010, 6:58AM
                  • The best way to handle population growth is to decentralise it. I would love to see the regional centres become major hubs of manufacturing, services, education, etc. to take some of the pressure of Melbourne. If the new Desal plant and the north-south pipeline can be configured to pump surplus water inland there is no reson why it shouldn't happen.

                    Commenter
                    Nathan
                    Location
                    Up North
                    Date and time
                    March 16, 2010, 7:07AM
                    • ive lived in a southbank highrise. there is no noise from neighbours but the hum of traffic is constant. cbd highrise means less commuting but it needs to matched with medium rise high density development along existing transport corridors.

                      Commenter
                      adrian
                      Location
                      flemington
                      Date and time
                      March 16, 2010, 7:08AM

                      More comments

                      Comments are now closed

                      Related Coverage

                      Thumbnail image for video asset. Melbourne's planning system broken

                      Planning experts sound the alarm, saying the state government's hands-off approach to urban planning is a recipe for disaster.

                      Thumbnail image for video asset. Melbourne's planning system broken

                      Planning experts sound the alarm, saying the state government's hands-off approach to urban planning is a recipe for disaster.

                      Thumbnail image for video asset. Liveability: City or suburbs?

                      Living in the city or in an outer suburb could not be more different, and tradeoffs abound as the affordability crisis deepens.

                      Thumbnail image for video asset. Robert Doyle's plan for Melbourne

                      Lord Mayor Robert Doyle takes a walk with The Age's Jason Dowling to outline his vision of Melbourne's future.

                      The outer limits

                      Property prices and the population boom are driving more people to Melbourne's fringes. In the first of our series, Jason Dowling examines the dangers of unfettered growth for the city and the solutions for a sustainable future.

                      Dazzled by housing's magic rise

                      It's nothing to cheer when government policies inflate home prices beyond the reach of the young.

                      Related Coverage

                      Featured advertisers

                      Special offers

                      Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo