Keep scrolling down for lots of photos.

Dear Minister Wynne, once our river bank is gone, it will be gone forever.

Everyone who uses the river or its environs has a right to continue to use them with pleasure and freedom, and everyone has the right to object to a private developer building something on Crown land, which impacts every person in Melbourne and ruins the amenity of all for the profit of a few. It is especially important for people already living in apartments to have the open space and tranquil amenity of the river corridor in which to retreat.

SALTA is proposing two huge Developments in Victoria Street Abbotsford, one on either side of the Walmer Street Footbridge. One is at VCAT, (case concluded on 18th May, decision to come), and one is before the Planning Minister for comment.

Development at 647-649 Victoria Street:


Note: Developer has photo shopped the Skipping Girl Sign out of the pic. In reality, it is located on top of the small scale brick building beside the proposed development.

This development proposal for an extremely high rise apartment building (see above) on the Yarra Riverbank was submitted by SALTA developers to the City of Yarra in the busiest time of the year, just before Christmas.  SALTA applied for a permit to build 109 apartments in a ten storey building, with 3 semi exposed basement levels and a plant/equipment level – so, essentially a 14 level building, right beside the Walmer St footbridge.

After new Yarra River Corridor protections were introduced in December, Salta took the case to VCAT, then amended the plans slightly to 9 storeys with 3 basement levels, (essentially a 12 level building) 100 dwellings, plus retail.

This development has the closest proximity to the Yarra River of any of the monstrous apartment developments that have been approved. The Yarra River itself is only 26 meters wide at this point.

13.95 meters of sloping land separates the development from the Capital City Trail, so the towering and overwhelming effect is heightened even more.

The public cycle/walking path is squeezed between the building footprint and the river. There will be an unpleasant canyon like effect created, ruining the amenity for walking/cycling/rowing users. The size of the building towering over rowers/cyclists and pedestrians will absolutely overwhelm the space and ruin the visual amenity. It will lessen the access to light and open air space, and destroy the tranquil atmosphere of the riverbank. It will seriously and adversely affect the amenity presently enjoyed by users of all types.



The Skipping Girl Sign will be blocked from view on the western (city) side of Victoria Street.


In the first set of plans an enormous jetty is shown joining the two developments on the area of public riverbank which is currently one of the only basking sites for water dragons and eastern snake necked turtles. They need this particular site as the correct combination of direct sunlight and protruding rocks is not easily available in other areas. The area is likely to be shaded by any new developments in any case.

Development number two: 607-627 Victoria Street.
10 – 11 levels, RL45 meters high, 539 dwellings, 496 resident car spaces.
Setback between 22m and 44m from river.
Former Planning Minister Justin Madden called in this proposal and approved it. Justin Madden is now a consultant with Arup.

“Walmer Plaza”

According to the plans, the developments will share entrance and exit tunnels for vehicles. The tunnels will occupy more than 2/3 of the present public land of Walmer St, Abbotsford. To accommodate these tunnels, Walmer Street is to be lifted up 2 metres, and steps installed. Both these things restrict public pedestrian and cycle access to the footbridge. They intend to pave the remaining area of the road, and call it “Walmer Plaza”. The current cycle/disabled ramp is absent from any plans, replaced with a series of narrow switchback paths, graded at different gradients on each leg.

What the Council has said about the path/ramp system:

“The proposed configuration of the ramps for cyclists and pedestrians to share is also in my view excessively tight in its configuration and less than intuitive or direct on its organisation.
Logically the proposed western graded zone of the Walmer Street plaza should lead directly onto the pedestrian and cycle ramp down to the river, rather than to a planter zone as currently proposed. The ramp should extend further to the west and have more generous landing zones at the switchback points at its eastern and western end to accommodate the fact that cyclists are turning at 360 degrees and sharing this zone with pedestrians. Ironically the path is shown at only the same width as the proposed bicycle access path to the private bicycle store despite its significant regional role and shared use. This transformation to a civic scaled resource, will necessitate the removal of the lower tiered private terrace to the north of the gym area that in my view is warranted to provide a zone of suitably civic scale for this important transition from the riverfront to the city.

The number of hairpins/switchbacks/bends dramatically reduces the accessibility and ease for cyclists (and other who need to use the ramp) from Victoria St onto the Walmer St Bridge  and the shared path next to the river
166. The proposal also dramatically increases the distance that cyclists and others will need to traverse compared to the current arrangement
167. The arrangement of the switchbacks doesn’t indicate which legs have right of way, which could lead to conflict considering the number of cyclists using the Main Yarra Trail and the ramp grades
168. It appears that the trail is being deliberately re-routed for the benefit of the development rather than the existing users resulting in a lower level of service.” (source: IDAC City of Yarra website).

The Walmer Street Bridge is consistently referred to as a “pedestrian bridge” with opportunities for “pedestrian access”.  Cyclists and disabled users are not mentioned as needing access per the ramp.

What the local Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF) says:

Clause 21.06-1 – Walking and cycling
The relevant objective and strategies of this clause are:
(a) Objective 30 To provide safe and convenient pedestrian and bicycle environments.
(i) Strategy 30.1 Improve pedestrian and cycling links in association with new
development where possible.
(ii) Strategy 30.2 Minimise vehicle crossovers on street frontages.
(iii) Strategy 30.3 Use rear laneway access to reduce vehicle crossovers.


What Salta is doing, which flouts every element above:


^^ Simplified map sent in by a reader. Arrows show circuitous detours users will have to take.  These narrow paths are shared, two-way, with sharp switchback turns. Part of the detour goes underneath the building. They add to the distance, inconvenience and possible danger for both pedestrians and cyclists.

Salta’s landscape map below. Note that part of the new detour goes underneath the building beside the cafe.


Note that the drawings show the river bank as flat land. In fact it is steeply sloping and looks like this:


and this:


(Works shown in picture are the beginning of Salta’s  development at 607-627. The cycle/disabled ramp directly beside the works is not part of any future plans)

Both the proposed jetty and the car tunnels are on public land. How is it possible that a private developer can be awarded public space, in order to improve the appearance, value and assets of their private development?

Together, the developments will look like this: (Developer’s picture – 607-627 in tactful taupe shading)

Expert Evidence of Chris Goss


Did you think the Honeywell site was huge? View of two developments from Victoria Street:


It has already been acknowledged that these high rise, high density apartment buildings are the wrong direction for the future population growth of Melbourne, and for the livability which we all value. Abbotsford has a gross over supply of high rise apartments, with many hundreds more planned.  In the 5 years from 2013 more than 40 large scale development projects are planned in the City of Yarra. The majority of these projects already have planning approval and some are already under construction. When complete these projects will add more than 7,000 new apartments to the municipality’s dwelling stock. (Note the UDP is only a guide and there are likely to be many other planned projects not yet captured in the data set). (source: Dept Transport Planning and Local Infrastucture report)

The latest reports show that there will be an excess of 123,000 apartments in Melbourne in approximately three years.

There is no housing shortage in the City of Yarra. There is no justification for allowing enormous high rise developments in sensitive riverbank locations, or for the free acquisition of public land by developers to enhance their profits. The City of Yarra is being turned into a dormitory suburb, and the Yarra River Corridor, which belongs to all of Melbourne, is being destroyed for the profit of a few private developers.

Our elected State Government Ministers need to start taking notice of the residents of Melbourne, and treating the Yarra River as the State treasure that it is. Bad planning decisions will affect our children, and our children’s children.

Minister for Planning and Member for Richmond, Richard Wynne has said:

“The streets around Yarra are full of history and character, it is our responsibility ensure their heritage and liveability are preserved, not torn apart.

“The City of Yarra and residents in my electorate were ignored by the previous government. These changes are about listening to the local community and encouraging vibrant, healthy neighbourhoods


All residents were ignored in the past. Add your objection and register your anger that the will of the majority of the population has their wishes ignored by our elected officials.