Three towers have become two in a proposal for an office and residential development at 7-23 Spencer Street, Docklands, designed by Fender Katsalidis for Mirvac.

Mooted for a prominent site by Birrarung (Yarra River), the proposal would include a 20-storey commercial tower providing 64,250 square metres of office space, and a 33-storey build-to-rent residential tower housing 472 apartments (including 20 affordable apartments).

The proponent received planning approval for three mixed-use towers at the site in 2016. The amended proposal, going before the City of Melbourne on 15 September, seeks to consolidate two towers into a single office tower, and to remove the hotel use in the third tower to increase the number of dwellings.

The new design doesn’t include an increase in height, but does include bigger building footprints and reduced setbacks. The estimated cost is $220 million, up from $200 million for the approved development.

The development at 7-23 Spencer Street, Docklands, designed by Fender Katsalidis.

City of Melbourne management is broadly in support of the amended design, and is recommending that councillors don’t object to the proposal (the state government’s planning department has final say over the approval).

The Urban Design team notes, however, that the amalgamation of Tower 1 and 3 “has resulted in a significant increase in the visual bulk, which does not have an equal level of vertical breakdown and grain as the endorsed development.”

And that the increase in height of the office tower from the endorsed four storeys to 9 storeys is inappropriate as it doesn’t contribute to a human scale on Siddeley Street, which is to be pedestrianised.

The planning report to council commends the increase in fine-grained retail frontages and sleeved lobbies at the ground plane, however, and notes that the consolidation of the southern plaza fronting Siddeley Street is also a positive development.

“Subject of various deleted, amended and new conditions, the proposed development will continue to be a positive outcome for this currently underutilised site,” the report notes.

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