Long Anticipated Waterfront Development Takes Step Forward

After submitting original plans for a new development in 2013 for 1-7 Waterfront Place, the project’s developer Action Group Australia seems finally ready to move forward.

News broke recently that new plans are in the pipeline for a revised 10-level residential building spanning 38.5 metres.

Covering an area of 5,487 square metres, the project would include approximately 175 dwellings, ranging from one bedroom to three bedrooms and penthouses, provisions for 244 car spaces across two basement levels, 184 square metres of ground floor retail space and a publicly accessible plaza and north-south laneway. Amenities would include a golf simulator, fitness studio, lounge, lap pool, library, business room, dining and events room.

Two retail tenancies opposite the Port Melbourne railway station frame a proposed western plaza that continues through the development at ground level. A large northern courtyard also breaks the building’s form to Beach Street.

The location

1-7 Waterfront Place is located close to the Bay Street Major Activity Centre and is less than three kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD. It enjoys proximity and direct connection to the CBD via the 109 tram means the Port Melbourne Waterfront Precinct is more strongly associated with Melbourne CBD than it is to its sister bayside ‘town’ of St Kilda.

The site is considered Melbourne’s waterfront gateway and the focal point of the traditional vessel entry point to Melbourne.

Action Group Australia said Waterfront Place demonstrates a significant opportunity to revitalise a site that is strategically located next to Station Pier and at the termination of the Port Melbourne light rail to central Melbourne. Their proposal provides for a development boasting a range of community, tourist and private accommodation uses with direct access to the CBD via a high frequency light rail service. A true mixed use transit oriented development.

The long saga

To say that the developers and everyone involved have been through a long slog is an understatement.

On 27 November 2012, the City of Port Phillip received the request from Waterfront Place Pty Ltd (Action Group) which sought consent to approve a plan proposing a development of three, predominantly residential buildings of 5, 10 and 19 storeys at 1-7 Waterfront Place in Port Melbourne. The proposal was for a mixed use development with residential dwellings, serviced apartments and a mix of food and beverage and lifestyle retail tenancies. The owners also lodged a separate planning application to remove or vary the covenants.

Original designs

However, Council determined that the concept plan was not satisfactory due to height, poor pedestrian access and inadequate traffic studies. In 2013, Council then refused to support the proposal for a 10-storey development on the grounds that it put forward a poor urban design response, did not provide adequate information, and did not give sufficient consideration to the impact the development could have on the commercial operations of Station Pier.

Things looked bleak for the development. However, Council adopted the ‘C104’ amendment in the Port Phillip Planning Scheme in 2014 which introduced new policy and planning controls. It was then approved by Minister for Planning in 2015.

Applying to 1-7 Waterfront Place, Amendment C104:

  • Rezoned the subject land from a Comprehensive Development Zone to a Mixed Use Zone, facilitating opportunities for new residential and some commercial uses on the site (such as cafes at ground level to activate the frontage to Waterfront Place).
  • Introduced a new Schedule 23 to the Design and Development Overlay to guide future development, including heights and setbacks.
  • Included the Design Guidelines for 1-7 Waterfront Place Port Melbourne (2014) as a Reference Document to the Port Phillip Planning Scheme.
  • Updated the Incorporated Document: Beacon Cove Development, Port Melbourne to remove reference to land at 1-7 Waterfront Place, Port Melbourne.

The approved amendment, in particular the new Design and Development Overlay 23, help gain greater certainty over future redevelopment of the site through specifying:

  • A mandatory 10 storey (35m) overall maximum height limit.
  • A mandatory maximum 3 storey (12m) podium height.
  • A mandatory 8m minimum setback above the podium (reduces building bulk to Beach Street, Waterfront Place and the heritage station).
  • No overshadowing beyond the southern kerb-line of Waterfront Place at the September Equinox (ensures sunlight to the promenade and the beach).
  • That overshadowing beyond the southern kerb line should be minimised at the winter solstice (mid-winter).

With new guidelines in place, 1-7 Waterfront Place is once again running the gauntlet and hopes to become a shining new piece in the larger redevelopment of the Port Melbourne Waterfront Precinct.

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