Fears apartment complex “could change nature” of Kensington
Kensington residents are concerned about a plan to turn an old Vision Australia building into an apartment complex, saying it would have a “negative contribution” to the neighbourhood.
Developers want to redevelop the building at 346-350 Macaulay Rd into apartments – a proposal the Kensington Association’s chairman Simon Harvey believes would be detrimental to the character of the neighbourhood.
The original planning permit approved six eight-storey buildings with a maximum height of 30.8 metres and a total gross floor area of 37,500 square metres – nearly twice the size of the MCG.
However, the application, which is currently being assessed by Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), seeks to amend the mixed-use development to a build-to-rent scheme.
The main changes include increasing the number of apartments from 424 to 478 and reducing car parking spaces from 645 to 196 spaces.
Other changes include increasing the retail floorspace on Macaulay Rd and increasing the communal facilities from 346 square metres to 1090 square metres (about the size of two basketball courts).
A relocation of the east-west pedestrian link to north of the site is also being sought.
DELWP said the existing building envelope and façade strategy is proposed to be mostly unchanged.
The City of Melbourne endorsed the original plan in May 2020 with conditions to reduce the visual bulk by increasing the setbacks of levels six and seven from Macaulay Rd and Stubbs St while also seeking further design work to the through block links to invite public through access.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp had declared an indirect conflict of interest after receiving an election campaign donation from the architect involved in the proposal.
According to Mr Harvey, the application was concerning because “you’re changing the nature of the Kensington village”.
“It looks like one enormous block; it certainly doesn’t look like independent buildings,” he said.
“It’s a lack of forward thinking in relation to all sorts of things from traffic to parking and population.”
Mr Harvey added a precinct plan was lacking for the area which meant “developers are just going to build the way they are, and Macaulay Rd is going to be untenable”.
The building was formerly owned by the Vision Australia Foundation; however, the building has since undergone a change of hands with the new owner unable to be confirmed by DELWP before publishing the July edition of North West City News.
Sources have said a company called Local, a build-to-rent developer, owned the building.
After the building’s closure, Vision Australia’s services were relocated to its sensory campus at 14 Barrett St, Kensington in early 2019. •