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    Wilkinson Eyre’s record-breaking Melbourne tower hits planning running

    Nathan Johnson

    Wilkinson Eyre’s first Melbourne project could end up a record breaker but it’ll have to jump a few significant planning hurdles to get there.

    The UK Architects have proposed a 323-metre tower on Queensbridge Street at Melbourne’s Southbank for Casino operator Crown Resorts, who own and operate the Crown Complex across the street.

    If approved the tower will be half a metre taller than the Gold Coast’s Q1 tower by SDG & Buchan Group and six metres taller than Australia 108 tower (317 metres) which is currently under construction and designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects.

    But there are a few obstacles to dodge before it earns that title. Namely, the architects will have to prove that the project is one of state significance, and apply for an exemption to CBD height controls governed by the state government.

    At over 306,000sqm the project would have a plot ratio of 57:1, which is more than double the maximum plot ratio of 24:1 currently governing CBD development under interim planning controls and more than three times larger than the proposed maximum plot ratio of 18:1 expected to come into effect later this year.

    The developers could appeal to a clause in the new central city planning provisions which will allow the granting of a floor area uplift bonus if the project provides an appropriate public benefit. And judging by the design, which would have an observation deck with rooftop dining, bar, wedding venue, and gardens over multiple levels, they would have a pretty good case for the uplift bonus.

    But Crown isn’t taking that path. Instead they are appealing to be waived from the planning controls altogether on the basis of its significant contribution to the state economy, which, on its estimates, is $3.1 billion annually.

    Other hurdles include a possible violation of air safety height restrictions for Essendon airport and a overshadowing on the city’s much-admired Shrine of Remembrance.

    The new proposal will include 708 residential units,388 hotel rooms and a skybridge linking the tower to the Crown Complex.

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