Bid for Brunswick’s tallest tower with more suburbs building up

Leafy suburbs forced to squeeze in more homesBrunswick: building up and still enjoying 15 minutes of fameBox Hill booms upwards with apartments

Brunswick will see its tallest apartment complex emerge yet – this time opposite Princes Park – as the hipster postcode joins a string of Melbourne suburbs quickly soaring upwards.

Building could commence this year on a 13-level, 6000-square metre development bound by Park Street, Sydney Road and Brunswick Road (now the site of the Best Western Princes Park Motor Inn) if the proposal is approved on schedule.

It comes as Melbourne’s suburbs continue to grow taller and denser, with apartment towers approved at increasing heights and suburban developers allowed to squeeze more townhouses on a block.

Comprising three buildings with 333 apartments, 699 Park Street is expected to be Brunswick’s tallest apartment tower, at an estimated 42 metres high. The tallest tower under construction is a 14-level, 40.8-metre tower on the corner of Sydney Road and Albert Street.

But developer JWLand says the Princes Park project will be the “polar opposite” of the Albert Street development, and the other investor-focused towers springing up in the suburb, given it will almost exclusively target Brunswick’s hip and cashed up young professionals and families with larger-sized apartments.

“We’re targeting those that are currently living in the area ??? they might be renters but want to buy their first home,” head of development Nick Weeks said. The project will also include a large childcare centre, dining and retail.

Mr Weeks, also behind the once-controversial Tip Top development in Brunswick East, said JWLand was working closely with Moreland Council, which had embraced taller buildings on the site.

“The planning scheme is actually specifically designed to encourage higher density and higher buildings,” he said, adding the design would set the tallest part of the building back from the street.

Last year, the state government knocked back the council’s push for mandatory height controls. Brunswick Residents Network’s Joanna Stanley said the community wanted mandatory limits that did not exceed 10 levels. “Brunswick residents don’t support the 13 and the 14 level heights,” she said.

Ms Stanley said some residents were already concerned about the Park Street project. “We have the Prini Park running track, which is our version of the Tan, and we want to share that amenity without losing it,” she said, adding that she was most concerned about overshadowing and more congestion due to traffic entering and exiting the buildings at peak times.

But it is not just the inner suburbs dealing with height concerns. Apartment towers have spread to outer suburbs such as Ringwood, Bundoora and Bentleigh.

Vanguard is the tallest apartment tower in Malvern, at 17 levels, while Doncaster’s tallest building, Magnolia, is 14 levels.

Towers up to 15 levels have been proposed for Carnegie, while the application of a controversial nine-level Bentleigh project at 277-279 Centre Road will be decided at an upcoming council meeting.

Glen Eira mayor Mary Delahunty said the council had asked the minister for interim height protection in Bentleigh and Carnegie while the council completed structure planning work.

Proposed interim controls varied across the suburbs, up to a discretionary seven-storey height limit in the Carnegie activity centre.

“Overwhelmingly the majority of permits for very tall builds in these centres were granted by VCAT on appeal,” she said. “We remain vigilant in our efforts to have VCAT actually apply our policies and not just take them into consideration.”

Developer Future Estate’s managing director Ben Anderson said the amount of land suitable for high-density development was limited – such as in activity centres, near transport nodes or along main roads.

There would have to be pockets of greater density within existing suburbs – and not just the inner city suburbs – to accommodate huge population growth, he said