“Beware Developers Bearing Gifts” – Part 2

Kew Cottages Coalition Appendix A.

” Images supplied by Applicant re Main Drive”.

(5 Views 9.4.15. Our ref: Link HC021 )

Re: Walker Corporation: Photographic Study 9 April 2015
Heritage Permit Application No P22396

1. Introduction

We believe that the photo montages presented in the Photographic Study by Walker Corporation conceal more than they reveal about the impact that the Walker Stage 8 High Rise Proposal will have on the the cultural heritage significance of both the Kew Cottages landscape, and the adjacent former Willsmere Hospital because:

a) There is no comparable imagery provided of how the designed landscape and significant trees will appear if the currently approved plans to restore Stage 8 to Public Open Space are proceeded with:

b) Relative heights and locations appear to be poorly represented from significant locations (This also happened with the developer’s montages of their original plans for high rise apartments. The Apartments were named “City View Apartments” but the montages presented suggested all the “City views” from the apartments would actually be obscured by trees !)

As a consequence we present here further particulars of the potential impact of the Walker Proposal on the unique Willsmere and Kew Cottages skyline.

We are sure the Applicant will be critical of the approach we have adopted, and we welcome that criticism.

For example our May 2015 study (below) of the 5 views presented by the Applicant on 9 April, assumes the elevation of the proposed apartments still to be 80m AHD, as set out in their 2014 Permit Application.

However, we understand the Applicant has now responded to our earlier criticism, and reduced the elevation of the proposed apartments to 79.8m AHD in order to accord with Condition 8 in Permit P9639.

Similarly, we are sure the applicant will be critical of the other assumptions we have used, and the local knowledge and publicly available data sources that we have relied on in forming our views about the Kew Cottages development over the past decade. (e.g. Google Earth, Google Maps, Nearmap, etc.)

We would not argue that Walker Corporation has far more, expert, and expensive heritage, survey, modelling, and photomontage services available to them than a community group such as ours.

However, what we would argue is that, from a public interest perspective:

  1. Despite their obvious expertise, such services when paid for by this developer, have often proved to be somewhat unhelpful in the past, and therefore we recommend that they be critically examined on a case by case basis; and
  2. While is pleasing to see that the Applicant has now retreated from what appeared to be a rather belligerent 80m AHD ‘largely compliant’ (HIS p.11) approach to the apartments’ elevation (as put forward in their initial application), unfortunately the revised height in itself will not actually offer any significant benefit. The fundamental failure being the proposed location for the apartments – which is still immediately adjacent to Main Drive in breach of P9639. (i.e.: within the Yarra Bend Grove minimum 26 metre buffer zone, that is endorsed as public open space.)

2. Comments of Walker’s 9 APRIL 2015 Views ( Link: HC21)

Views 1 and 2 – show the huge visual impact that the apartments would have on the view over the heritage treed area, even from the distances and the angles chosen

View 3 – shows how the view of the existing heritage trees will be nearly completely masked by the apartments. The photo montage also does not show the full height extent of the apartments

View 4 – We cant see the point of this photo. The existing trees will undoubtedly be removed when a building will be erected on the empty site, which will reveal the 5 storey apartment block above any 2 storey building erected on the block.

View 5 – this has been taken from far away, at the bottom of the park which is a spot seldom used by park users. It doesn’t show the impact from the pathway through the park.

3. Impact on current viewlines within the original (1860) Willsmere Asylum Reserve.

Both the Yarra Bend Park Lookout on the Main Yarra Trail (Kew Trig Point) , and the busy Wurundjeri Spur Lookout on the Yarra Boulevard are located within the grounds of the original Willsmere Asylum Reserve. Both provide view lines that still clearly show Willsmere within the context of the Yarra Bend Park, and the river itself in the valley below, plus the site of the former Yarra Bend Asylum (1854) on the west bank of the river, with the backdrop of the City Skyline in the west.

Unfortunately if Walker’s proposal is proceeded with then from the latter two lookouts the top stories of Walker’s apartments will appear to be suspended slap bang between the two main Willsmere towers directly above the existing roofline. (At least one and a half to two and half stories of the five stories proposed will be ‘on display’ in this way depending on final plans and approvals)

A similar view will appear when Willsmere is viewed from further away on this view line across the Yarra, for example from Fairfield Park..

As a consequence the continuity of the original Willsmere reserve will be further fragmented, and the uniqueness and distinctiveness of the historic buildings on the ridge line will be lost forever.

Fig 1. Willsmere from Yarra Bend Trail Lookout (Kew Trig Point)


4. Impact on Willsmere Skyline as seen from the Central Business District.

As previously noted in our objection to the Walker proposal, even if the roofline of the proposed apartments were to be restricted to 79.8m AHD, then there will still be an an unacceptable heritage impact on the Willsmere skyline as viewed from around Melbourne. e.g.: from the CBD.

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Part 3

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