38 storey Box Hill development fast-tracked

DAYS after announcing the fast-tracking of an industrial project at Truganina, west of Melbourne, Planning Minister Justin Madden on Friday announced the fast-tracking of a $100 million, 38 storey development for Box Hill.  If built, the Box Hill development will be the tallest building outside of the CBD and St Kilda Rd precinct.

Originally refused by Whitehorse Council in August last year, the proposed development consists of a 38 storey building and 6 level basement car park (342 spaces).  The subject site, zoned Business 1 and located on the corner of Carrington Road and Station Street, has been vacant for many years and is currently used as a public car park.  The proposed development is to feature a range of uses including 176 serviced apartments and 232 apartments, gymnasium, food and drink premises, offices, restaurants and retail premises.

Whitehorse Council refused the application based on 15 grounds including the detrimental effect the development would have on the character of the Box Hill Central Activity District (CAD), the limited mix of uses, excessive scale, bulk and mass of the development, insufficient car parking and lack of integration with public transport services.

The proposal was bound for VCAT after Whitehorse Council's refusal, with project developer Barton Group stating that "we have avenues of appeal and we would be stupid not to take them".  However Mr Madden called-in the project after representations from the developer and said that the Government is "standing up for Victorian families by speeding up the planning process to create jobs, manage growth and help families secure their lifestyle."

"Recent population forecasts indicate that to cater for our growth over coming years 316,000 new dwellings will need to be located in Melbourne’s established areas", Mr Madden said.  "We need more homes to accommodate our growing population, so we must plan now how to manage growth and preserve liveability… The focus is on locating more intense housing development in and around activity centres, along tram and bus routes, in areas close to train stations and on large redevelopment sites."

The original application to Whitehorse Council received 21 objections, with concerns regarding overlooking, overshadowing and loss of rental value and competition.  However, the proposal did receive one letter of support and was supported by the Whitehorse Asian Business Association.

According to the Government's revised metropolitan strategy, Melbourne @ 5 Million, Box Hill has been promoted to a CAD along with 5 other districts (i.e. Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Footscray, Frankston and Ringwood) in order to achieve a polycentric city structure.  Melbourne @ 5 Million specifies that CADs will feature:

  • Similar services and functions to central Melbourne, such as commercial, retail, highly specialised personal services, entertainment, education, government and tourism;
  • Significant employment concentrations; and
  • High quality, well designed, living and working urban environments.

Mr Madden said the proposal was consistent with the Whitehorse Planning Scheme, which seeks to develop increased housing and investment opportunities in the Box Hill Central Activity District.

The Department of Planning and Community Development will hear from relevant parties and report to the Minister before a decision is made on the proposal.

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