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    Zaha Hadid-designed ‘champagne flute’ towers approved after court battle

    Kirsty Sier

    An appeal against the approval of Zaha Hadid-designed towers has been rejected by a Brisbane judge.

    Called Grace on Coronation – but known colloquially as the ‘champagne flutes’ – the proposed, $430-million towers are slated to stand between 24 and 27 storeys and contain 555 apartments. The city plan had only permitted 15 storeys on the planned Toowong site, which formerly housed the ABC studios.

    The appeal against the Grace on Coronation towers’ construction was first submitted to the Planning and Environment Court in 2015 by a local resident. On Wednesday morning, judge Michael Rackemann dismissed the appeal, saying that the breach of height restrictions will offset by the public space proposed for around the base of the towers.

    “On balance, I am satisfied that there are sufficient grounds, in the public interest, to approve the proposed development notwithstanding conflict with the planning scheme,” said Rackemann.

    “Insofar as the character of the area more generally is concerned, it must be remembered that Toowong is undergoing a rapid transformation consistent with the planning intent for that area. Its built form is increasingly being characterised by high-rise contemporary developments.”

    In his statement, Rackemann noted the distinct design of the towers, which – true to their nickname – resemble glass-and-metal champagne flutes.

    “The proposal will have a distinct design [that will be] refreshing in terms of apartment building design, but that does not make it inconsistent with the emerging and intended character of the area.”

    In 2015, Brisbane City Council released a plan to “deliver better public parkland and access to the inner-city riverfront”. Commenting on the towers, the council’s planning chairman Julian Simmonds affirmed Rackemann’s decision, saying the design was in-line with the council’s vision for the area.

    “The local community wanted more open space and permanent public access to this site and that has been achieved by limiting it to three as opposed to five buildings that the applicant is entitled to under planning laws.

    “The court’s approval of the three building project ensures the community will have access to the majority of the 1.5 hectare site and for the first time open up the 1860s riverfront villa, Middenbury House, to the public.

    “The project will provide an extension of the Bicentennial Bikeway along Coronation Drive to Archer Street through the site to improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.”

    So far, there’s no word on when construction of the newly-approved Grace on Coronation towers will commence.

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