News / Planning

Cypriot club developers back down on building height

Compromise offer to go before council for approval next month

An artist’s impression of the original proposal of a 10-storey development.

Mark Phillips
Monday, November 1, 2021

A GROUP of Brunswick East residents are claiming success in their campaign to block high-rise buildings in the northern end of Lygon Street after the developers of a proposed apartment block made “significant compromises” at a mediation hearing in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Details of the compromise offer by the Cyprus Community of Melbourne and Victoria, which is seeking to redevelop the two properties at 495–511 Lygon Street will remain confidential until a Moreland Council meeting on December 15.

But the convenors of the Save Lygon St North group believe it will be enough to avoid a lengthy battle in VCAT.

“After much back and forth, we put forward a final offer and were surprised when the Cyprus Club accepted our terms,” the group said in a statement to supporters.

“We felt confident that it was a good, guaranteed outcome that we could lock in now, rather than risk a worse decision at VCAT, which is how much of the overtly tall development in the south of Lygon Street occurred.”

The CCMV wants to redevelop the properties into a mixed use community centre, retail and residential complex. The site includes the historic Liberty Theatre building, which was home to a cinema for decades in the 20th century.

The CCMV originally sought planning approval for a 10-storey building, later revised to seven levels. In April, the council’s Planning and Related Matters committee approved the development but ordered it be further scaled down to five storeys.

More than 250 objections were lodged against the proposal, with most concerned that it was nine metres taller than the recommended planning overlay for that part of Lygon Street.

The CCMV appealed to VCAT to overturn the council’s decision.

After a frantic fundraising campaign, the residents’ group had gained the services of a leading town planning consultant to advise on their case during what was expected to be a four-day hearing in VCAT early next year.

Co-convenor of the residents’ group Dom Fitzgerald said the compromise offer and amended plans from the CCMV came during a mediation compulsory conference attended by the developers, objectors and the council on October 18.

Mr Fitzgerald said the compromise was “as good a result as we’re going to get”.

“I would not have agrreed to anyting I didn’t think was a good result. We had the money to go to VCAT with legal representation, and I was prepared to walk away [if they did not get a good offer] to be honest. ”

The compromise must still be approved by Moreland Council next month.

Mr Fitzgerald said it was frustrating that both parties were bound by VCAT not to divulge any more details of the mediation outcome until it is published in the council meeting agenda.

Related story:

Battle brews over Lygon Street heritage site