Inner City and Near City Developments Challenging Heritage Overlays and Height Restrictions.

Brunswick in the Inner-North of Melbourne is now ground zero in the battle to retain heritage overlays, maintain height restrictions and protect the character of one of Melbourne’s iconic early suburbs.

Some of it is simply bold, brash and impracticable. The project slated to be constructed on the corner of Sydney Rd and Park St was a good example. The promoters originally aimed to construct a 13-storey tower on the corner, then cut back to 10 storeys, after local residents objected. Ultimately after several attempts to achieve the required permits at VCAT, the project was rejected.

Jim Malo, reporting from weighs in on the issue below.

A proposed Brunswick apartment development that ran afoul of the local council, the state planning tribunal and its potential neighbours has been knocked back again

The planned unit tower on the corner of Sydney Road and Park Street was originally set to be 13 storeys high, later cut to 10 during the approval process, prompting a resident backlash.

After being given a chance to rejig the project, developer JW Land has now failed to win a permit from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

VCAT knocked back the multi-tower project because it deemed some apartments were not of the required standard, with a “substantial” number of balconies that were too small, failure to achieve 40 per cent of apartments with effective cross-ventilation, and loss of natural daylight to the ends of some communal corridors.

The tribunal also baulked at plans to conserve a heritage substation building on the site, saying it would be overwhelmed by the proposed new apartment tower.

But the tribunal did not consider the overshadowing of popular Princes Park and neighbouring properties, which originally galvanised neighbours to oppose the development at 699 Park Street, Brunswick.

Mary Lane’s panels, and the empty site where the towers would have gone. Photo: Stephen McKenzie

One of the homes that would have been overshadowed belonged to an elderly lady, Mary Lane, whose late husband installed solar panels on the roof so she would have reduced power bills and would be able to support herself more easily after he died.

But this was not why the application was rejected over and over again. The issues of dwellings not meeting minimum requirements and insufficient heritage protection of the substation were not adequately addressed when the developer had a chance to amend its application, VCAT found.

In its first iteration the development would have had 13 storeys at its highest and 333 homes, but this was cut down through the application process.

Speaking to Domain last year, Ms Lane had said the experience had been traumatic, as she didn’t speak English well and had struggled with the objection process.

A supporter told Domain she was overjoyed by the project’s latest rejection.

The running track in Princes Park would have been overshadowed for part of the day. Photo: Jesse Marlow

She had been supported by the Protect Park Street Precinct community group, and their spokeswoman Christine Christian said the win against the development was a great moment for their group.

“It’s been a near-five-year battle for the communities of Princes Hill, Parkville and Brunswick that has seen us work through two VCAT hearings, endless meetings with councillors and close to $100,000 in legal fees but our efforts have been rewarded,” she said.

The group’s biggest concern, the overshadowing, was not considered by VCAT or the council in the second application because VCAT had already ruled the impact was acceptable.

Ms Christian and the group are now set to go on to fight for overshadowing of parks to be banned in the Melbourne city council area, outside of the CBD, Docklands and South Melbourne.

An amendment to the planning scheme, number C278, is planned to be discussed by the City of Melbourne.

“That was due to be heard on April 14 however, with recent effects from COVID19, that has been deferred for the time being,” Ms Christian said.

JW Land did not respond to requests for comment.

Brunswick house blocks generally were utilised for workers cottages and date back to the late 19th century in some areas. Small blocks were also reciprocated in retail with some exceptions. This has led to a propensity to go ‘up’ to capitalise on what are now significantly higher land values.

But based on the Suburb’s demographics, the apartments planned are often small and lacking in the overall requirements of better planned inner urban developments.

In The Herald Sun, an article appeared several days ago concerning the conversion of an old timber yard into an up-market Apartment complex of a full 8 storeys in height. To be frank there will be many such developments pitched in Brunswick with its compliment of Light Industrial locations now scheduled for demolition and re-development. But if you own a neighbouring property and are covered by a Heritage Overlay, you may well feel justified in objecting to this style of development. We will provide a thorough update on this particular project in the near future.

There are literally up to 20 such projects planned or nearing completion in Brunswick. The developments are pitched at young savvy professionals and are real money spinners for their promoters. Take a look at the Brunswick Yard development to gauge an understanding on the scale of these projects.

Marc Pallisco looks into the subject, reporting for below.

Stockland is paying $15 million for a 4010 square metre former industrial site in Melbourne’s inner north Brunswick.

The 429-435 Albert Street parcel was only recently rezoned to allow for high density residential.

It is less than 100 metres from a 7500 sqm block, 397-403 Albert St, which rival Mirvac acquired last month for a multi-tower apartment project set to contain build-to-rent components.

That builder intends to develop its Brunswick site with local outfit Milieu Property – which last year bought the neighbouring 2323 sqm block, 395 Albert St.

Stockland has mooted its Brunswick property for townhouses and c150 apartments; it will also deliver retail to the pocket for the first time.

Currently a timber yard – the land was for sale most of last year before being relisted with a new agency, Savills, two months ago (story continues below).

Industrial pocket rezoned for high density housing

The Amendment C161 rezoning allows for the construction of eight level buildings over 1.7 hectares between 395-429 Albert Street.

The addresses are currently configured with low rise warehouses and terrace homes. The area is unique for the inner-city suburb being surrounded by parkland (Clifton Park to its north and east and Gilpin Park to the south).

Marketing agents Nick Peden, Jesse Radisich and Benson Zhou declined to comment about any part of the deal.

Stockland’s site is about a kilometre west of Brunswick train station and the Sydney Road retail strip. The suburb is about six kilometres from the CBD.

The 429-435 Albert Street site (shaded) is about a kilometre from the Brunswick train station and Sydney Road retail strip.

The warehouse site (left) has 99 metres of frontage to Clifton Park. It backs onto recently completed five level apartment buildings (right) at the corner of Pearson and Victoria streets

Nathan Mawby sheds some more light on the Brunswick Yard development in the following article from The Herald Sun.

Brunswick Yard development to have life of its own with unique design

The Brunswick Yard redevelopment is aiming to become a ‘living’ building.

A new project in Melbourne’s inner north has been designed to have a life of its own, evolving and growing long after construction ends.

The Brunswick Yard project will have a central courtyard garden as its green heart, while Boston ivy, Virginia creeper and chocolate vines slowly take over segments of its seven-storey brutalist architectural design.

The Gersh development at 8 Ballarat Road replaces an industrial building once part of the rag trade, but historically a lumber yard.

While Carr Architectural’s design will ensure the 121 units are spacious and receive extensive natural light, landscape architects at 360 Degrees have aimed to give it a life of its own.

Greenery has been chosen to filter air pollution, provide a calming backdrop and give the project its own scent: spring flowers and vanilla

Extensive gardens will give the project its own scent, a mix of spring flowers and vanilla.

Ground level apartments will embrace the gardens directly.

“It’s replacing the four walls with a park,” said Capital Property Marketing sales director Bryce Patterson.

Apartment sizes range from 54sq m up to 63sq m for a one-bedroom offering and between 117sq m and 150sq m for a three-bedroom floorplan.

The developer is also “very open” to combining apartments.

Creepers and vines will grow up along mesh elements of the building.

The landscaped garden at the development’s core has plenty of space for residents to enjoy.

“The interiors have good fit-outs, but are not overpowering … the interior style won’t overshadow your personal style,” Mr Patterson said.

Locals aged about 35 years old who have taken on-and-off lockdowns as a chance to save and get out of the rental trap are showing early interest, with a location near bustling Sydney Road’s trams, cafes and boutiques adding appeal.

A display suite is expected to open in December.

Even the developments upper floors will have a living component growing over them.

One-bedroom apartments start from $445,000-$550,000, two bedrooms from $685,000-$785,000 and three from $995,000-$1.35m.

Then there is this one quietly being promoted in the heart of Brunswick, originally reported on by

8 Ballarat St Brunswick

8 Ballarat Street, Brunswick, VIC 3056

Located on the corner of Oven and Ballarat Streets in Brunswick, 8 Ballarat Street sits within a pocket of Brunswick South of Hope Street set to see significant change over the coming years as the surrounding low scale industrial uses are consolidated in line with the desired outcomes of the strategic planning policy.
8 Ballarat Street is a collection of 141 Residential Apartments, offering a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms over 8 levels. The development is serviced by two basement levels accommodating 158 car parking spaces, 147 bicycle parking spaces, 8 motorbike parking spaces, and 147 storage lockers. Back of house services and bin/waste facilities are provided on Basement 01 with a central landscaped courtyard and a café on Ground level.

Designed by Plus Architecture the development seeks a balance between the developing context of the suburb and its industrial past.

It’s easy to see that there are serious competing interests at work here. Old Brunswick with its Federation and Victorian housing stock is quickly being overwhelmed by multi-storey developments.

The question is, what is the Heritage value of the areas with current overlays if huge apartment complexes continue to be built? The natural light is now blocked, traffic increases dramatically, and a new bland overwhelms the artisanship of the terraces and retail stores of Sydney Rd, Lygon St and Nicholson St.

Where is the planning here? What is the direction? To be honest, it’s really hard to ascertain other than to note that Brunswick will soon become another inner-city High-rise jungle.

What do you think?

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