News / Planning

Council rejects apartment projects as ‘too high’

Developers told to stop testing height limits and to scale down ambitions

A developer plans to demolish this building in Albert Street to make way for a six-storey apartment project on the site.

Mark Phillips
Monday, August 29, 2022

MORELAND City Council has signalled it will object to two high-rise apartment projects in Brunswick East when they go before the state planning tribunal later this year.

At its monthly Planning and Related Matters committee meeting last week, councillors responded to community concerns about both projects by refusing to waive height limits and voting to oppose them.

Ninety-six objections were lodged against the construction of eight and five storey buildings in a block on the western side of Lygon Street between Evans and Pitt streets.

St Kilda based Pace Development Group is seeking to build a total of 109 one, two and three bedroom apartments, along with six street level retail tenancies and two levels of underground parking. The project is valued at $33 million.

Local residents and businesses had objected that the taller of the two buildings would be more than 11 metres above the preferred height limit in the area of 17 metres, causing unacceptable overshadowing and imposing what one resident described to the committee meeting on Wednesday night as a “gloomy urban canyon” effect on Lygon Street. The shorter building is also three metres above the preferred height for its area.

Tarquin Leaver, head of planning at Pace, said the company had put forward a high quality project and was prepared to refine the design to accommodate resident concerns.

But councillors agreed with residents that the project as it stood was not acceptable, and will argue in the Victorian Civil and Administrative that a planning permit should not be granted on seven grounds, including that it was not appropriate for the area because of its height and failed to meet five key criteria under the Moreland Planning Scheme.

“I heard the applicant speak about how they’re working on this, but there are quite a number of grounds … where they haven’t actually met our standards and our guidelines, that’s why we’re rejecting it,” said Mayor Mark Riley. “To not get those things right is a concern.”

The case will now be heard by VCAT on November 22.

Albert Street project refusal

The committee also resolved to oppose a planning permit for a six-storey apartment building on the northern side of Albert Street, between Cross and Sedgman streets in Brunswick East. The site is close to Fleming Park and is currently occupied by a single storey brick warehouse building that until recently was the home of Moss Studios.

The building would contain 61 apartments and 50 car parking spaces, which is 37 fewer than what is required for a building of its size. At 21 metres, it would be seven metres above the preferred height for the area.

Six objections were received relating to the building height, overshadowing and the proposal to reduce on-site car parking.

Cr Sue Bolton said the project was “huge” and would have a significant impact on Fleming Park.

“I just really don’t think developers should be coming forward with proposals that go so far above the proposed height limit,” she said.

“I just think this is something developers should stop doing, coming back with these spectacularly high developments.”

The matter is scheduled for a VCAT hearing in December.