Port fights bayside tower plan

An artist's impression of the proposed waterfront development in South Melbourne.
An artist's impression of the proposed waterfront development in South Melbourne.

THE Port of Melbourne Corporation has slammed a controversial plan by a company backed by a Kuwaiti royal to build a massive tower development near Station Pier.

The owners of the Waterfront Place site have asked the City of Port Phillip to change its planning scheme to facilitate the large-scale development, which includes five, 10 and 19-storey buildings, serviced and residential apartments and shops.

But the port authority said the proposal could exacerbate traffic congestion, impede port access and affect its long-term operations.

''PoMC considers that the proposal is an encroachment of a sensitive and potentially incompatible use on the port,'' the acting executive general manager of business and planning, Robert Woodside, said in a submission to the council.

''It has the potential, demonstrated by our current experience of receiving amenity and traffic-related complaints, to prejudice the efficient and curfew-free operations of the port.''

The proposed buildings, designed by Melbourne architect Fender Katsalidis, would eclipse Beacon Cove's tallest 13-storey tower.

The site's owner is Waterfront Place Pty Ltd and the developer is Action Group Australia, the Australian arm of Action Group Holdings, which is owned by Kuwaiti sheikh Mubarak Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah.

Mr Woodside said recent surveys and modelling by the port showed the roundabout at the intersection of Princes Street, Beach Street and Waterfront Place already operated close to capacity when cruise ships were berthed at the pier.

He criticised a traffic survey that was submitted in support of the application, which he said was conducted on a ''non-cruise day''. He also defended Station Pier, which was described as run-down in a report submitted by the applicant.

''Station Pier is on the Victorian Heritage Register and has been subject to significant upgrading in recent years.''

Mr Woodside said a significant increase in residents at the 1-7 Waterfront Place site would ''be an encroachment into the port environs''.

It would ''have the possibility of restricting the port operations through complaints, unreasonable amenity expectations and security concerns''.

Planning controls let the applicant submit to council a request to ''vary from approved plans for the estate''. The request for consent is different from normal planning applications, and there is no formal public notification or appeal rights for residents.

But City of Port Phillip acting mayor Serge Thomann said council wanted to hear the views of the community and would accept public submissions until it made a decision on the proposal by March.

''This is clearly a site of significant interest to our community and council will be doing all we can to keep our community informed and to give them the opportunity to have their say,'' he said.

Action Group Australia managing director Andrew Nehme declined to comment.

This story Port fights bayside tower plan first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.