YARRA City Council last week announced it has approved a major redevelopment of the Richmond Plaza site, on the corner of Bridge Road and Church Street, with significant changes to the original plans.
The original $250 million proposal by Coles Property Group was for a series of buildings across the site rising to 12 storeys over basement parking, providing for 333 apartments and 12,000 square metres of floor area for retail and commercial uses.
Council's approval allows for a residential and retail development reaching up to nine storeys – three storeys less than the initial proposal – and requires some increased building setbacks and an additional 23 car parks.
Several traffic management and screening measures were also introduced to reduce the impact of the development on nearby residents.
The development will include 13 affordable housing units and achieve an average 6.5 star energy rating for the dwellings. Coles Property Group has made a commitment to contribute $40,000 to the State Government for future public transport improvements in the area.
Yarra Mayor Geoff Barbour said Council had achieved a balance between protecting neighbourhood character and amenity and allowing for some needed revitalisation in one of Yarra's premier shopping strips.
"Council shared residents' concerns that a 12-storey building would have been an overdevelopment," Cr Barbour said, adding that the developer had previously offered to delete one storey from the tallest building.
"Ultimately, we have decided to cut another two storeys from the tallest building so the maximum height of the development is nine storeys, well set back from Bridge Road and Church Street," he said.
"In the plans we've approved, some of the apartments lost from the tallest building would be accommodated in another nearby building. That building would be increased from partly seven and partly eight storeys to eight storeys across."
Cr Barbour said the Council had worked to achieve the best outcome possible on the site rather than risk the matter going to VCAT and resulting in a larger development being approved.
"The changes we have made to the Richmond Plaza redevelopment will hopefully result in a quality development," Cr Barbour said.