I prefer podiums to gong straight up

So nearly 10 years ago I got a letter in the age re the now dumped Tower Melbourne, cnr Bourke & Queen – railing against the idea that towers could go almost straight up, very close to boundaries, and nobody seemed to care what this did to the street scale, or neighbours. This was the middle of #mathewguy’s 4 years as planning minister, but plenty around the edges of the cbd and Southbank already approved or built with no setbacks at all. Since 2016 there has been a requirement for a 5m setback above podium (or up to 12 floors) except on main covers when it can be 80m, like the one approved instead of the one I complained about (2nd image) so it’s actually sort of worse ! –

“Surface tension

THE tower at 150 Queen Street is not a ”blight”, but it is certainly not right. The design is a striking work of architecture but just doesn’t conform to the council’s long-established guidelines. These mandate setbacks from street fronts to maintain a pedestrian scale (so lacking in other cities), and substantial setbacks from side boundaries for occupiable rooms. This allows for adequate light and air to occupants, and the street.

Like so many other buildings in the past decade permitted by various planning ministers, often over Melbourne City Council objections, this one completely ignores the guidelines. The result can be seen in Franklin Street, which barely sees direct sunlight for eight months of the year, and in Southbank and Wills Street, where shocked residents find towers proposed next door that could cut off their natural light almost completely. Melbourne’s CBD is being rapidly rebuilt, not to carefully established rules, but to unwritten principles which seem to have more to do with how it looks than who it will affect.”

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