Apple Development, Federation Square #ourcityoursquare Rally Wednesday 19th Sept, 6pm, and the Windsor Tower now rejected by VCAT

For those who follow our weekly posts and blogs, we are providing information first of all regarding a protest being held at Federation Square on Wednesday the 19th of September at 6pm sharp. Organised by Melbourne Heritage Action, speakers include Simon Ambrose (CEO, Victorian National Trust), Melbourne City Council Councillor Rohan Lepert, Chair of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Portfolio of Melbourne, and Colleen Peterson (CEO of Ratio Planning Consultants).

As many readers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposed Apple development on the site, this is an opportunity to publicly demonstrate that opposition and perhaps hear from people with informed views on the subject.

From Melbourne Heritage Action…

Federation Square – Apple Store Rally

Even if you think Federation Square is an ugly mess, maybe an Apple store just doesn’t belong there.


If that’s the case, then you might even want to come to a protest rally !

Details from the #ourcityoursquare campaign :


An Apple megastore does not belong in Fed Square and we need to take to Our City, Our Square to make our voices heard.

Join a free rally at Fed Square on Wednesday 19 September 2018 from 5:30pm.

At 6.00pm SHARP we will have our photo taken with the Yarra Building, hopefully not for the last time. This is the building that will be demolished to make way for the Apple megastore.

Bring family, friends, and work mates. We look forward to seeing you there.

Spread the word and show how much you care for public space – before it’s too late for Fed Square.

Confirmed speakers include: Simon Ambrose (CEO, Victorian National Trust), Colleen Peterson (CEO, Ratio Planning Consultants) and Councillor Rohan Leppert (Arts, Culture and Heritage Portfolio Chair, City of Melbourne).

Rally details here:


Sometimes Developers simply don’t succeed with proposed developments. The Windsor Station 20 Storey Tower development planned to span the Sandringham Line is one such project, stopped in its tracks (so to speak) by VCAT.

Windsor is well known for its heritage streetscape. There are very few contemporary or modern buildings in the area.


Chapel St is somewhat iconic and has been identified as having similar architectural characteristics to Smith St and Brunswick St Fitzroy. A very modern 20 storey tower was, to say the least, unsympathetic to this architecture.


This type of development will become more commonplace as factory and warehouse sites in these inner city areas are exhausted. The St Vincent’s Private Hospital extension on the corner of Brunswick St and Victoria Pde is another blatant example of development overriding Heritage values. The old ‘Eight Hour Day Pub’ and the property around the corner built on the birthplace of St Mary McKillop are still at risk with a VCAT hearing to come. But results such as this are pleasing. This building would truly have been an eyesore. In this case the Developers (SMA Projects) had been refused a building permit by Stonnington City Council last year. The Developer’s last recourse is the Supreme Court, a risky proposition.

Here is the full report on the case from Domain.

VCAT knocks back 20-storey tower in Windsor because it wouldn’t fit the area


The future of a controversial development set to be a Victorian first — a 20-storey tower built across train tracks in Chapel Street, Windsor — is in doubt after it was refused by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

After an eight-day hearing over the proposed development at 24 Chapel Street by SMA Projects, the tribunal ruled the area, which is “mildly grungy but also pleasantly edgy”, similar to Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street, would be uncomfortable with a modern tower next to a heritage streetscape.

SMA Projects development manager Robert Murphy said another application for a residential tower was unlikely to go ahead after the refusal. An existing permit for a retail outlet is approved for the site.


He said a tower less than 20 storeys was not financially viable for development in that area and SMA Projects would not be “re-lodging the same application”.

“Even though it’s being refused … I think it will leave a legacy for planners to refer to in terms of what the future might bring for developments,” Mr Murphy said. “It lays a foundation and leaves a bit of a legacy for trying to overcome the monumental challenge.”

Mr Murphy said the developers had always tackled challenging sites and the decision by VCAT would not deter them from challenging developments like this in future.


The developers are considering their next steps, unsure whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.

SMA Projects appealed to VCAT following Stonnington Council’s decision late last year to refuse a permit, asking a decision be made on the development only. Its lawyers told the tribunal it was an “all or nothing” decision.

“Due to the various structural complexities and major project costs involved here, the proposal could not viably go ahead if the approved tower was any less than 20 levels high as proposed,” members Philip Martin and Stephen Axford said in their finding, handed down late on Friday.

The developers proposed a mixed use development with 45 apartments – 10 three-bedroom, 30 two-bedroom and five one-bedroom. It also included floors for office space, shops and parking.

The outside of the building was designed with green walls and clear solar power panels and it had an overall 5-star environmental rating.

The proposal also included $4.5 million to be paid to VicTrack for use of the air rights at the train line, to go towards the broader network.

That money, set to be paid after the build, is also unlikely to go ahead.

Noting the positives of the development, the VCAT members ultimately made the decision to refuse because its height and scale would not fit with the Chapel Street landscape.

“We see no reason to refuse the proposal, in terms of its ‘traffic and parking’ aspects,” the members stated. “However our overall finding is that the proposal is excessive and would constitute an unacceptable planning outcome, in terms of the other two fundamental criteria of ‘height and scale’ and ‘presentation to the Chapel Street streetscape’.”

Stonnington council planning and amenity general manager Stuart Draffin said any future development of the Windsor area needed to be “sensitive to the heritage context”.

He said the council’s zoning sought to encourage housing growth and diversity, including higher density development consistent with the site.

“A mandatory maximum height restriction of 14.6 metres (4 storeys) was approved (in 2017) … for the majority of Chapel Street in Windsor,” he said.

“This area was identified as [having] exceptional, specific and confined main street places that warranted mandatory maximum building heights due to their unique heritage and character attributes.”


For Heritage buildings to survive, there needs to be an acknowledgement by those opposing such developments – Going up is incredibly lucrative. Quite simply, the developers can sell up to 40 apartments in such a 20 storey development, with premium pricing towards the top. Add to this the Commercial precinct below and it can represent up to 50 to 60 times the original land value. This in itself is a very tempting proposition for some Councils in terms of increased rates income.

Kudos to Stonnington City Council for placing a higher value on our heritage. Its time to ensure that the rather curious and beautiful buildings and infrastructures of the past remain somewhat intact.

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,
Why not?”

Good Question Joni Mitchell, the answer has always been obvious.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

One thought on “Apple Development, Federation Square #ourcityoursquare Rally Wednesday 19th Sept, 6pm, and the Windsor Tower now rejected by VCAT

  1. Pingback: The Big Apple at Fed Square. Delayed for one year. | Balance Architecture

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