OG’s official feedback to Council on UDF

Orrong Group has forwarded this to Council and we thought you’d be interested to know our thoughts. (Great work team, particularly Margot and Garry who put this together – thanks.)

Bad news dear reader – this in no way justifies your procrastination on sending feedback.
Fight the Towers
14 October 2011

To The Mayor and Councillors
Stonnington City Council

Dear Councillors Sehr, Ullin, Smith, Chandler, Nicholls, Athanasopoulos, O’Shea, Hindle, Hannan

The Orrong Group’s response to the Draft Urban Design Framework (UDF) for 590 Orrong Road Armadale.

The Orrong Group represents over 700 families from the local community, who have been working for the last 16 months to achieve an excellent outcome for this significant site.

The Orrong Group is disappointed that the draft UDF has been issued in its present form. We expected that a council developed UDF would have set a vision for the site. The workshops that many members of the community attended in August 2011 clearly stated their vision for this important site and it is evident that these views have not been included in the consultant’s draft document.

The consultant’s UDF proposes a mass of buildings occupying all but 15% of the site. It proposes 6 towers: 3 at 8 storeys, 3 at 6 storeys, and the remainder at 5 storeys and lower. Eight storey towers will have major negative visual and contextual impact on the low rise homogenous architectural integrity of the neighbourhood. Two of the towers are located along the railway line and will impact on the residents of Beatty Avenue, Rose Street and Elm Grove. The proposed density remains excessive at between 400 – 500 apartments.

The Orrong Group has clearly stated that the maximum height for this site should be no higher than the present buildings of 4 to 5 storeys. We believe the density should be below 250 units and open space should be between 20% and 25% within the development’s boundaries.

The draft UDF significantly fails to consider the social impact of the development, its impact on existing infrastructure, and the environmental sustainability of the development.

Some of the issues within the document are acceptable as a starting point however, including:

1. Urban Form
• An attempt has been made to set the taller buildings back a little from the boundaries of the development, although this does not go far enough
• There are some buildings of 5 levels or less, which is acceptable
• There is proposed street tree planting throughout the development, but at what scale?

2. Movement Network
• Preserved access to Toorak Station from Orrong Road
• Enhancements to walking and cycling paths

3. Open Space
• The  minimum 15% open space provided is a beginning, though it is barely enough

The Orrong Group puts forward key revisions necessary for the three essential urban planning elements.

1. Urban Form
• The community has stated emphatically in hundreds of questionnaires submitted to Council and public forums that towers over 5 storeys including more than 250 apartments is totally unacceptable.  3×8 level towers, 3×6 level towers, 4×5 level towers, 3×3 and 2×2 level buildings including up to 475 apartments does not project great vision for the site, or for the future of this area.

• The draft UDF states that the ‘form is built upon the existing pattern and fabric of surrounding Armadale’. Has the person who wrote this visited our Armadale or another Armadale? There are no areas of Armadale or Malvern with a cluster of tall buildings such as those proposed for 590 Orrong Road. The ‘existing pattern’ is of suburban streets with houses and occasional flats up to 2 and 3 levels.

• The draft UDF states that the development has ‘a low to medium rise edge to each public interface’. This is not the position when 2 of the 24m envelopes are near the eastern edge of the development and will dominate the skyline for residents of Beatty Avenue, while the other 24m tower abuts housing to the north of the development and will impinge on privacy and sunlight for these homes. The community supports low to medium rise 4 to 5 storey buildings.

• The draft UDF suggests a maximum height envelope of 24m. This is totally unacceptable as buildings of this height are out of character with the surrounding area. These buildings will interfere with the privacy and amenity of surrounding residential areas, many of which are heritage listed. The views of the area from Beatty Avenue, Rose Street and housing on Orrong Road will be severely adversely impacted by an unbroken wall of high rise buildings.

• The allocation of envelopes to the heights specified supports the developer’s density, allowing approximately 475 dwellings to be built on the site. This is totally unacceptable as it will put too much pressure on existing infrastructure (health, welfare, schools, community facilities, rail, road, parking, parks) and will create an ‘urban ghetto’ like feel to the area. Is this Council’s vision for Armadale? A height of 12-15m is the maximum level to maintain the architectural integrity of the neighbourhood and is what the community expected in the draft UDF. This control will restrict the density of the development and encourage better use of open space and improve the quality of life of all residents.

2. Movement Network
• Movement networks within the site seem reasonable. However, further consideration should be given to the location/s of vehicle access to Orrong Road. There will be a major impact of 800 new vehicles on the surrounding road network. Where will people park and how will they come and go from the site, and how much disruption will this cause in the immediate area? Orrong Road does not cope with the extra traffic load now. This will have severe implications for surrounding streets. Reduced overall density of the development is the only solution.

• A walkway exclusively for pedestrians to Toorak Station is essential, and the public walkway should be retained in its present location.

3. Open Space
• Open space within the site is inadequate for even the potential density of 250 dwellings. A minimum of 20% open space is required within the site.

Overall comment

Overall, the document is disappointing. It contains many generalisations that are simply inaccurate or misleading and it does not put sufficient limits on height of buildings and the density of the development. It does not consider some basic principles one would expect of a UDF.

The most unsettling factor is that this process presupposes a huge residential development for the site without considering other potential uses of the site. This reveals a lack of vision to maximise the potential benefits for the community of this rare and strategic site. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity requiring visionary leadership.  Please let’s do something with the site that residents, State Government, local businesses and the whole community will be proud of now and into the future.

Attached is a list of issues that The Orrong Group considers as non-negotiable for the development of the site.

Yours sincerely

Margot Carroll
Convenor
The Orrong Group

cc. Strategic Planning

Things that matter (and are non-negotiable) to The Orrong Group in the development of an Urban Design Framework (UDF) for 590 Orrong Road Armadale

1 Any new development must be integrated with the surrounding neighbourhood and have a social and urban ‘interconnectedness” with the neighbourhood.

2 Building form and height must be similar to the surrounding neighbourhood and be sympathetic and in reasonable harmony with the neighbourhood character.

3 Height of any buildings must not exceed 4-5 storeys (the community benchmark) and there must be appropriate setbacks from the boundaries of the site. Architectural height, form and bulk must not dominate the surrounding environment.

4 The density of any development at this site should not exceed 250 units total. The Draft UDF suggests up to 500 residential apartments, which is unacceptable.

5 Environmentally sustainable development principles must be incorporated in any design, and design excellence must be encouraged.

6 The development must provide a minimum of at least 20% open space and the full amount must be within the development site. It must not claim dispensation based on the proximity of neighbourhood parks and sportsgrounds.

7 The status of Victory Square Reserve must be maintained and it must not be incorporated into the development.

8 The heritage status of the Toorak railway station must be preserved in all aspects.

9 Surrounding heritage overlay areas must be preserved.

10 The full requirement for car parking must be included in any residential development proposal.

11 The impact on the privacy of surrounding properties and overshadowing must be minimised. There must be no overshadowing of public open space.

12 There must be no subsuming of public parkland or special dispensation from legal setbacks from boundaries because of public land.

13 Existing public walkways to Toorak station must remain and not be subsumed into the development.

14 There must be no extensive and continuous blocks of buildings blocking vistas, sunlight and creating wind tunnels.

15 Building positioning and separation must maximise sunlight and landscaping, and wind tunnel effects must be minimised.

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