30 Mar 2016

Planning minister defends Collins Street ’Pantscraper’ tower rejection

Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle says his council should be given the right to approve major skyscrapers, after Planning Minister Richard Wynne blocked a $1.25 billion twin-tower project which would have seen a new park on Collins Street.

Cr Doyle said he feared the prime site, which takes up a block between William and Market streets, would be sold to an uncaring developer that could build a tower that complied with planning rules but was ugly and had no architectural merit.

“If they merely sold this plot of land, the outcome we would get would be hideous,” Cr Doyle said. “It would allow a building right on Collins Street”.

Cbus Property had proposed two 47-level towers connected by a sky bridge at 445 Collins Street, since dubbed the “pantscraper”. A major sweetener for the council, which supported the plan, was the promise of a 2000-metre public park facing Market Street.

However the minister was told by his department he should refuse the application, as it broke a rule preventing the north bank of the Yarra River being overshadowed by more than 15 metres on a day near the winter solstice.

On Tuesday Mr Wynne said he said he stood by his decision.

“This site will hopefully accommodate a new landmark which still allows people to enjoy their lunch on the north bank of the river. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice amenity for new projects,” he said.

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