19 Nov 2015

Mixed reactions for Dexus, Cbus Projects

The City of Melbourne will recommend that the Victorian government reject Dexus Property Group’s planning proposal for an apartment tower on Flinders Street, while advocating approval for Cbus Property’s $1.5 billion plans at 447 Collins Street.

Councillors on Wednesday night voted that the city would advise state Planning Minister Richard Wynne to block Dexus’s plans to transform a car park into a 175m-high apartment tower at 32-44 Flinders Street.

The process may put a snag in Dexus’s aim to realise $1 billion through the sale of key sites to residential developers.

Mr Wynne has the authority to let the plans proceed, although the city’s recommendation carries political weight.

Dexus put in plans for the 2000sq m CBD site in January, with the designs exempt from the city’s interim planning controls as they were submitted before the controls took effect in August.

The city last month agreed to defer its decision on its position on the plans when Dexus said it would scale back the project.

Dexus then asked permission for an ambitious two-tower mixed-use project, consisting of 496 apartments, 300sq m of retail space, 355 car spaces and 312 bicycle spaces. The towers are 181m and 44m high, with a total gross floor area of 66,386sq m and a plot ratio of 30m of floor space for every 1m on the site.

Dexus had this week sought the city’s recommendation with amended plans.

It agreed to reduce the height of the tower by two storeys, increased its setbacks from Park Lane, and amended the design so there was additional light and ventilation for the apartments.

But nine out of 10 councillors on the planning committee agreed that there would still be overbuilding on the site.

Councillor Stephen Mayne was in favour of the design.

“They were close, they moved (their plans) and we appreciated the engagement with Dexus and I’m hoping the minister approves it with conditions to deal with those last shadow and setback issues,” Mr Mayne said yesterday.

But the evening was better for the superannuation-backed Cbus Property. The city has backed plans for it to pursue a 47-level mixed-use project on a 6000sq m site in the heart of the CBD.

“All the indications are the minister will approve it and that will be great for Melbourne,” Mr Mayne said.

One condition is that Cbus will have to agree to construct a 3500sq m of public space on Market Street, comparable to the size of Melbourne’s City Square.

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