In his first intervention as planning minister last February, and ten days before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal was expected to endorse the proposed 29-level tower, planning minister Matthew Guy introduced an amendment imposing a height restriction around Albert Road, designed, he said, to protect vistas of the Shrine of Remembrance from development pressures.
This claim was disputed by the Port Phillip Council, which said the proposed 88-metre tower at 35 Albert Road would not have materially changed vistas in that street, or nearby St Kilda Road or Kings Way.
It was considered curious the state government did not seek to revoke two planning permits that had just been issued for 28-plus level towers on blocks directly opposite 35 Albert Road.
In fact, earlier this year, the street was included within a newly defined central city area, part of the state government’s new “Grand CBD” proposal, and where towers of 100-plus levels will be considered.
Shadow minister for planning and sustainable growth Brian Tee, with Albert Park MP Martin Foley, have called for an inquiry into Mr Guy’s February 2011 intervention.
High profile owners of apartments within the exclusive Domain complex at 1 Albert Road, next door, and who lobbied against the initial 35 Albert Road proposal, included former Crown Casino chief Lloyd Williams, trucking magnate Lindsay Fox, businessman Ron Walker and retired lawyer George Swinburne, who was also the secretary of the Liberal Party’s Canterbury branch.
Dubbed the ‘tower of power’ because of the financial standing of many residents, apartments within the 23-level, 81-metre Domain building are renowned for their million dollar views, north over the Shrine of Remembrance to the CBD, and south, over 35 Albert Road, to Albert Park Lake and Port Phillip Bay.