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Warning of Melbourne CBD 'canyons' amid skyscraper rush

Date

Aisha Dow

An artist's impression of the tower proposed for 450 Elizabeth Street.

An artist's impression of the tower proposed for 450 Elizabeth Street. Photo: Supplied/Architizer

Melbourne city planners have warned a rush of skyscrapers in the CBD's north could transform city streets into “canyons”.

Five towers at least 55 storeys high have been recently approved near the top end of the Elizabeth Street.

A 75-storey apartment building by Shanghai developer Jeff Xu is the latest to be planned and would be the tallest skyscraper in the area if built on the north-east corner of Franklin and Elizabeth Street.

The 239-metre tower would become home to 622 new homes, including several of 43-square metre one-bedroom apartments.

Just across the road at 450 Elizabeth Street, planning minister Matthew Guy recently approved a 67-storey building.

Melbourne City Council planners have warned another tower at this intersection would magnify their concerns.

“To replicate this building's form with a taller tower, without any setbacks on the northern side of Franklin Street, would result in a canyon effect that would create an oppressive pedestrian experience,” the council report said.

“This would be further exacerbated if the building form were to be repeated along Franklin and Elizabeth streets.”

The matter will come before the council on Tuesday night, but is unlikely to be entirely without some drama.

The Lord Mayor and his team have declared a conflict of interest because of cash received from developer Jeff Xu during the 2012 election, a donation which still remains under review after allegations it was not properly disclosed by the Doyle team

The five councillors will dismiss themselves for the vote, leaving the decision whether to officially resist the development to the Labor, Greens and independent councillors, including Cr Ken Ong.

Cr Ong said he would oppose the project in its current form.

“Height is less of a concern than how it treats the street and neighbouring properties,” he said.

Other towers recently approved in the northern corner of the CBD include:

• A 56-storey tower at 23 Therry Street;

• A 71-storey tower at 500 Elizabeth Street, the site of the former Stork Hotel;

• A 67-storey (218 metre) tower at 450 Elizabeth Street;

• A 56-storey tower on the north eastern corner of A'Beckett Street and Elizabeth Street;

• A 55-storey (178 metre) residential tower at 398 Elizabeth Street.

76 comments

  • When half the Council has to disqualify itself from any vote you know there are flaws in the system.

    Commenter
    brian
    Date and time
    March 04, 2014, 12:11PM
    • true, and when we complain all day about public transport - and then further cement the dependancy that everyone has to come to the same place to work from - kinda defeats the point

      why dont they concentrate on building bigger towers (not 75 stoerys) in mini-cbd's maybe like port melb, glen waverly, malvern, dandenong,etc etc?

      Commenter
      matt
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      March 04, 2014, 1:21PM
  • It's inevitable. And when the next round of "overdevelopment/destruction" is completed, what then? Asian developers will give us an Asian vision. Matthew Guy won't give us any vision, quite simply he's clueless.

    Commenter
    Neil (not on radio) Mitchell
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    March 04, 2014, 12:17PM
    • Neil, totally agree but something that has perhaps also been (deliberately?) overlooked is the possibility that these towers will not even result in anticipated jobs; foreign developer, foreign architecture and engineering, imported materials (and possibly even imported labour). When everything is built and sold off all the money goes offshore too.
      Just WHERE is the benefit?

      Commenter
      Caroline
      Date and time
      March 04, 2014, 4:47PM
  • Any development at the top end of Elizabeth Street should be welcomed as that area has been in need of a spruce up for a long time.
    Now if someone can just get rid of the often detected smell near the corner of Therry & Elizabeth Streets (near McDonalds) that would be fantastic.

    Commenter
    David
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    March 04, 2014, 12:17PM
    • Im with you David that end of Elizabeth St has been a down trodden dump for years these buildings will bring new life to this dead end of the CBD.

      Commenter
      Proud Victorian
      Location
      Sandringham
      Date and time
      March 04, 2014, 1:11PM
    • Dave I used to work at TAA back then (ironic the Government wants to break Qantas into Domestic and International parts, back to the future, but that's another story). Personally I liked the way the city sloped from the central CBD to the north so that by the time you got past La Trobe St the human scale had returned to the streets and they were always in sunshine (weather permitting). Also there were no wind tunnel effects caused by high rise developments. This meant the Vic Market precinct and the wide avenue that is Elizabeth Street presented a properly scaled entrance to the city from the north. Really attractive. The tower being planned alongside the other cheap and trashy apartment buildings being slammed up is simply a visual obstacle, completely out of scale, dominant and without a single visual redeeming feature. People don't realise these apartments aren't built for aesthetics, they are opportunistic economic junk, if the public could only see beyond the polished stone and stainless steel they might realise how cheaply these time bombs are built and keep away from them. PS Anecdotal advice is that some apartments are being used to cheaply house significant numbers of immigrant students and workers, much like the scam that's been going on with Chinese plastering teams. Dave they are killing this town.

      Commenter
      Neil (not on radio) Mitchell
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      March 04, 2014, 1:53PM
    • Development in that area is good. 75 storey walls to the edge of the footpath is not. They need to be adequately set-back after a few floors, similar to the rest of the CBD. Just like the Planning standards require. If you read the report, these buildings do not comply. Therefore they should be refused. Melbourne is a beautiful city for a reason. Lets keep it that way with proper development including sunlight, space and a lack of wind-tunnels.

      Commenter
      peterh_oz
      Date and time
      March 04, 2014, 2:40PM
  • Kiss goodbye liveable city status - with this flood of micro-apartments and housing affordability reaching the point of impossibility for those without help, we will be a city of miserable drones trudging from office to shoebox apartment and paying off the mortgages of the super-wealthy. Welcome to the Human Zoo.

    Commenter
    Suzy
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    March 04, 2014, 12:20PM
    • We're all going to die! Gloooom, Gloooooom.
      Only labor has the answers.

      ha a hha ahahaha ah ohh

      Commenter
      Alex
      Location
      Finley
      Date and time
      March 04, 2014, 2:08PM

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