Electrical Trades Union hopes to expand with land rezoning

Electrical Trades Union hopes to expand with land rezoning
Brendan Rees

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has put forward a proposal to rezone its land to mixed-use so it can expand the offices of its North Melbourne headquarters.

The ETU-owned building at 192-200 Arden St has been operating for more than a decade as an administrative head office and for some training and health services despite it technically sitting in a residential zone.

But a planning anomaly – which the City of Melbourne hoped to fix – permits the ETU to use the four-storey building for office use.

In addressing this, councillors at their May 19 Future Melbourne Committee were supportive of the ETU’s request to rezone the land from residential to mixed-use and voted unanimously for the Minister for Planning Sonya Kilkenny to authorise and exhibit a planning scheme amendment.   

Council management advised councillors that a proposal to rezone the site was “considered suitable recognising the site’s context and interface of the mixed-use area south of Arden St”.

According to a council report, the ETU is hopeful of increasing the building floor area to accommodate expanded facilities. The building is home to the heritage Melbourne Mills.

Potential building heights at the location allow for six to 18 storeys to the south-west and up to four storeys to the north, south and east.

The amendment, if approved, would introduce a new design and development (DDO) overlay schedule to allow a redevelopment of the site.

This would propose building heights ranging from seven metres along Dryburgh St and up to 20 metres adjacent to the Melbourne Mills heritage building.

Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said as the land was zoned as residential, the “ETU aren’t allowed to extend or redevelop the office buildings, because technically office use is prohibited on the site”.

“The ETU benefits from existing use rights (under the Melbourne Planning Scheme); they’ve been operating as an office there for many, many years so they are totally entitled to use their current building as an office.”

But he added, “So what we’ve got here is an anomaly in the planning system that should be fixed”.

“I do know on that site, for example, at the moment they are running Australia’s first electric vehicle charging infrastructure costs. It’s certainly something we’d like to see more of here in the city of Melbourne.”


So, all up there are good things happening on this site. This is a very sensible amendment to the planning scheme that’s been proposed.


A council report noted key issues considered included heritage impacts on the adjoining Melbourne Mills heritage building and the broader precinct, as well as potential future amenity impacts on the residential buildings to the north of the site along O’Shannassy St.

The North and West Melbourne Association’s secretary Kevin Chamberlin said if the Minister for Planning agreed to a planning scheme amendment, the council must engage in “meaningful public consultation on this development”.

“The association has always been concerned about the term ‘preferred maximum height’ because it can be confusing to the public. We would have preferred a maximum mandatory height,” he said. •

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