A high-rise apartment project by Koichi Takada Architects is creating controversy with both local council members and residents opposing the plan.

The application for 476 apartments in North Fitzroy was considered by the Yarra Council, but when it failed to arrive at a decision on the project, the its developer, Gurner took the proposal to the state planning tribunal. While pledging to legally fight the plan, the Council has also asked the state government to introduce a six-storey height limit on the site immediately.

Properties at the new development are expected to sell from $450,000 up to $2.5 million. While the apartments are designed to have three levels along the property’s borders facing houses, they rise to 16 levels at the centre, raising the ire of local residents. The proposal faces opposition from the community with the Yarra Council receiving almost 500 objections. The heavily gentrified suburb of North Fitzroy has a median house price of $1.25 million.

Councillors have asked Planning Minister Richard Wynne to cap development in mixed use zones throughout Yarra at 13 metres or about four levels in addition to asking developers building along inner-city shopping strips to have a setback of at least 10 metres from the street.

Emphasising that their push for a four-level limit and objections to the high rise didn’t reflect a NIMBY attitude, Amanda Stone, the mayor of Yarra and a member of the Greens, said the community was genuinely concerned about the proposed project and felt they needed protection against inappropriate development.

Tim Gurner said his company had followed due process in its application including speaking with Yarra Council officers. Disappointed with the Council’s actions, he said the 10-metre setback rule would make the development of many potential sites unfeasible, hurting the entire area.

After studying the impact of the development on residents, The Grattan Institute's John Daly said a four-level height limit would be inappropriate in areas where medium-rise development up to 10 levels might be possible. However, it was also essential that existing residents were not hurt by development.