Younghusband revamp rolls on
The City of Melbourne has endorsed the third and final stage of the redevelopment of Kensington’s century-old former Younghusband woodstores, which proposes to develop a new six-storey mixed-use building.
The iconic red-brick buildings at 2-50 Elizabeth St are among the last remaining wool stores in Victoria, and recognised as one of Melbourne’s biggest heritage sites, spanning 1.57 hectares.
Refurbishment works began in March, breathing new life into the buildings with the project being delivered in three stages under a joint venture partnership between Built, Ivanhoe Cambridge, and Irongate.
Designed by architecture firm Woods Bagot, the first stage proposes to turn the site into commercial office and retail spaces.
Stage two, which gained planning approval in January, proposes to partially demolish the buildings to make way for two towers at six and eight storeys high, with the latter consisting of 16,000 square metres of office and ground floor retail connections between the two stages.
The final stage, which was unanimously endorsed by councillors at their September 19 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, proposes to knock down the existing non-heritage warehouse and develop a 30.1-metre-high building in its place to house offices, retail, food and drink shops, and a gym, as well as a two-level basement with parking.
Under the plans, stage three would also introduce a public plaza at the corner of Chelmsford and Elizabeth streets to create a vital urban linkage with the stage one and stage two buildings.
“In addition, this connection also provides state-of-the-art public amenities such as greenery, a water feature, wellness and retail which will benefit the whole local community around the Younghusband precinct,” a council report said.
The application was amended after the initial plan for stage three received an objection from Melbourne Water when the proposal was submitted to the Minister for Planning in September 2022. The plans were redesigned to address Melbourne Water’s concerns, and requirements to mitigate flood risks.
Speaking favourably of the Younghusband redevelopment, Cr Rohan Leppert said changes to the plan didn’t make “drastic changes to the built form” and applauded the applicant “for their continued innovative and creative approach to planning this entire precinct”.
“I think the community information and the openness with which the community has been kept in the loop on this proposal is exemplary,” he said.
It’s a very high-quality application and certainly the designers here at the city working with the applicant to continually improve each stage through this overall development has resulted in something I think that is exactly the sort of urban infill that is suitable for this area.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said she was confident the proposal would bring a renewed energy to Kensington, “but, of course, the broader spectrum here in North Melbourne as well”.
“Given that the two suburbs sit side by side, all of this is incredibly positive for community as to what is possible in the physical form but also what is possible for uses that are valuable to the community,” Cr Capp said.
The approved proposal will now go before the Department of Transport and Planning, which will make an ultimate determination for the application.
The entire redevelopment is expected to be completed late next year, promising to enhance Kensington’s liveability and grow its economy. •
Caption: A render for stage three of the Younghusband redevelopment.