An Unfortunate Problem in Melbourne's CBD

You may have seen the report in The Age about a development proposal in the CBD that would result in the creation of a ~100m deep vertical shaft between two buildings. This shaft would be the only source of light for 48 unlucky apartments and their inhabitants. 

The Age's report on the issue is here, looking at how this has affected one grumpy-faced man who's apartment is set to be 'built out'. The article is perhaps overly emotional, appealing to peoples sense of outrage with density rather than fully explaining the situation.

Alan Davies over at Crikey's blog The Urbanist does a far more balanced job of explaining how this came about - and the lessons for high rise development in all Australian cities. Alan explains how the problem is not so much with the new proposal - which appears to be a fair and reasonable design, it's in the fact that the neighbouring tower got a permit in the first place. 

Quoting extensively from Alan Davies:
The Highbury proposal might well be extensively modified on other grounds – height, set-backs, heritage, etc – but probably not because of the impact of the light well on Wills Court. Highbury appears to be within their rights on that score. However if the development does go ahead as proposed, the poor outcome for the 48 apartments in Wills Court – and that is by far the main negative associated with the Highbury proposal –will primarily be the result of Council’s failure to look after their interests.
I don’t think this stuff-up is due to density per se. These sorts of problems can happen anywhere including the suburbs. The peculiar issue with high densities however is many more people are directly impacted by a stuff-up.
At the end of the day, this whole saga is a lesson for every Council. You MUST consider 'equitable development' when examining each new proposal. Developers must provide for the fair and equitable development of all neighbouring lots. This is a complicated issue of urban design, there is no simple tick-box for this type of assessment. If you're not sure, engage an Urban Design expert! 

The permit was denied for a number of reasons by Council, and is making its way to VCAT on appeal.


  1. Do you know any good urban design experts that can advise on issues such as equitable development?

  2. Increasing density in Australias cities is a good and necessary thing, but its not going to go well if regulators, investors and residents do not understand that living cheek by jowl brings problems as well as opportunities.
    urban planners


Post a Comment

Popular Posts