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    Petition launched to save Melbourne’s ‘pants building’ after planning rejection

    Nathan Johnson

    A rejection from Victorian Planning for a $1 billion Collins Street tower reminiscent of China’s Gate to the East building has prompted an online petition and social media campaign to have the project reconsidered.  

    Designed by Woods Bagot and Shop Architects, 447 Collins Street was knocked back by planning for a second time in as many years, in this instance because it would have cast a shadow across to the south bank of the Yarra River.

    The original proposal for the 5926sqm island site was a singular 295-metre skyscraper, but that was rejected in 2014. Woods Bagot and Shop then returned to the table with a heavily amended project which would see two towers, one commercial and one residential, link up at their 47-storey apex to form Melbourne’s only skyscraper skybridge.

    447 Collins Street was publicly praised by the Melbourne City Council, the would-be governing authority for the project were it not for the interim planning controls (Amendment C262) placed on central Melbourne by the state government back in September 2015.

    But the interim controls impose a 24 story height limit for the CBD, so those proposals above 24 stories are now considered a state planning amendment, rather than a typical town planning development approval.

    This is the main sticking point for organisers of Save Melbourne's future international icon and tens of thousands of construction jobs an online petition with a goal to reach 1,000 signatures in support of the project being reconsidered.

    “We only need to look to Sydney to see when one person introduces totalitarian regime, financially impacting thousands, forcing many families out of business, spoiling the nightlife for everyone, and dulling Sydney's international reputation,” reads the petition page.  

    “Hopefully with enough signatures, Victoria's voice will be heard and sense will prevail, before the flood of billions of dollars of investment in Melbourne from Asian consortiums stops,putting tens of thousands of construction workers out of work, and ending the states boom.”

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    Image: Woods Bagot/Shop Architects

    It is also a sentiment shared by Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle who told The Age that the Woods Bagot and Shop proposal was a "very elegant solution to what is a very strategic block".

    "You only get a couple of generational chances to make a difference to Collins Street and this is one," says Doyle.

    "You cannot have an individual making decisions of this moment."

    Melbourne City Council supports the plans, partly because of the design but also because of a 3000sqm park that would have been created in Collins and Market streets.

    It is unsaid how the rejection would impact the design and amount of public space allocated by Woods Bagot and Shop.

    At the time of print the Save Melbourne's future international icon and tens of thousands of construction jobs petition has 90 signatures.

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