Melbourne’s Truncated Trousers Towers Gain Approval

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Friday, April 8th, 2016
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Developers have convinced Richard Wynne that a truncated version of Melbourne’s controversial “pantscraper” poses little threat to conditions on the southern shores of the Yarra River in the city.

The Victorian Planning Minister has given his approval to a multi-storey development in downtown Melbourne that, in the eyes of some critics, bears a strong resemblance to a pair of high-rise trousers.

Following negotiations with developers, Wynne agreed to grant his approval to the proposed development at 447 Collins Street in the Melbourne CBD, contingent upon a height reduction of 21.6 metres, or the equivalent of six storeys.

The original design by Woods Bagot and Shop Architects envisaged the creation of a pair of conjoined skyscrapers rising to a height of 47 storeys and linked together by a skybridge at their apex.

Melbourne City Council, the nominal authority for the project given its location, gave its public support to the project, yet the state government intervened to scupper the development on the grounds of the impact the shadows it casts would have upon the southern shore of the Yarra River.

Last year, the Victorian government introduced an interim height restriction of 24 storeys on any new developments in the Melbourne CBD in order to curb an ongoing frenzy of development which authorities fret could result in “darkened streets, wind tunnels and less open space.”

Wynne’s earlier rejection of a proposal for 447 Collins Street led to outcry from supporters of the project, who accused him of imposing “totalitarian” measures, and who launched an online campaign to oppose the decision.

The vertical dimensions of the amended design proposal to which Wynne has agreed is 41 storeys, and not high enough to cast shadows on the south bank of the Yarra during the winter solstice.

“The previous design of this building completely overshadowed not only the north bank of the Yarra but indeed the south bank of the Yarra as well,” the Minister said.

“It’s a significant win in terms of getting a development that protects the amenity of the Yarra River and more importantly it speaks to the enormous energy and appetite there is for development in this corner of the city.”

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle called the outcome of the negotiations a “victory for common sense” following the successive rejection of multiple site proposals, which he feared would compel Cbus to sell the land to a less conscientious developer.

In addition to creating what it hopes will be an iconic addition to the Melbourne skyline, Cbus has also committed to the provision of 2,000 square metres of land for public open space, as well as the conversion of half of nearby Market Street into green space.

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