5 Apr 2016

Melbourne’s CBD ’pantscraper’ has been given the nod at 41 storeys

Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne has signed off on a controversial $1.25 billion tower in Melbourne’s CBD after the developers agreed to lop 22 metres – six floors – off its height.

The connecting 41-storey twin towers at 447 Collins Street, nicknamed the “Pantscraper”, is the third iteration for the site after the first idea by developers Cbus Property – 295-metre tall, 74-level skyscraper on the 6000-square-metre city block, bounded by Collins, Williams and Market streets and Flinders Lane – was knocked back in October 2014 because of overshadowing on the Yarra River. 

The same problem stalled the redesign – a 47-level, 165m high version of “Pantscraper”, designed by Woods Bagot and New York-based SHoP Architects – last year after Wynne, the new planning minister, changed the limits on height and plot ratios for CBD developments. 

The original twin towers were meant to include 68,356 sq m of office space, 269 hotel rooms and 315 dwellings, along with ground-floor retail. The configuration for the approved concept has yet to be revealed. 

The previous proposal included a $3 million 1500 sq m public park on a closed section of Market Street as part of a deal struck with the City of Melbourne council to offset the overshadowing. That idea stays under the new 142-metre-tall version, which is still believed to shadow the Yarra’s northern bank in winter, but not the whole river.

The planning minister said the final deal was a “significant win for the city” that protected the Yarra. 

“This project takes in an entire city block and we have taken the time to make sure we provide for a future landmark on Collins Street,” he said.

“I judge every project on merit and make sure what is built does not negatively impact the surrounds, I want to encourage new towers without sacrificing amenity.”

Cbus has yet to submit an amended design for approval, but demolition on the site is expected to start within six months. 

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