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    Victorian Planning Minister releases confidential reports on Melbourne tower proposals

    Nathan Johnson

    In a state first for Victoria, Planning Minister Matthew Guy has released confidential advice provided to him from the state planning department regarding permit applications for development proposals in Melbourne.

    The minister released formal advice from the planning department on 70 permit applications for developments in the City of Melbourne including many on Lorimer, Bourke and Collins Streets.

    The reports date back to December 2010 and cover proposals that had a gross floor area exceeding 25,000sqm in the City of Melbourne and from other nominated areas and sites.

    The releases shows that Guy has been advised to approve all but two of the CBD high-rise applications to have crossed his desk since 2010 but they also show that he has rejected some proposals against his department’s recommendations.

    Guy told the Melbourne Age that he has rejected applications against department advice in the past because he felt they were architecturally substandard or lodged merely to improve the site’s land value.

    Victorian Chapter President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Peter Mallat has welcomed the release of the planning reports and believes they will provide insight for building designers into the department’s decision making and methodology.

    “The release of planning reports is beneficial as it allows all designers to access the Department of Planning decision making methodology,” he said.

    “This information was not previously available, and will improve the understanding of Departmental approval by designers, local governments and the interested members of the public.”

    However, Mallat also mentioned that the release will not give open slather to architectural critique of project proposals as the reports are very technical and don’t provide clear indications of what the building might look like.

    “The planning reports are quite concise and technical in nature, and are useful to assess technical planning issues such as provision of car spaces or height,” he said.

    “The reports do not include plans, drawings or renderings, so their usefulness for assessment of the development’s architectural merit is limited.”

    Both the Napthine Government and its opposition have pledged to a continued release of department advice on inner-city building permits if either is voted into government at the next election. 

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