What 607-627 looks like

Scroll for more pics

2^^ The river runs in front of the length of the buildings.  This is what you will see on the right side of the bridge if you are crossing the Walmer Street Footbridge from Kew to Abbotsford. On the left side of the bridge will be the other Salta development at 647-649.

These buildings at 607-627 are 49metres high, including plant equipment. They are 10 and 11 levels above ground, plus extra plant equipment level, and three level basement. The first block is only 22metres from the water.

If you are a rower or kayaker, you will look up and see 49 metres of concrete and glass. If you are a walker or a cyclist, you will have no alternative other than to be right beside the buildings. Cyclists and disabled people must actually go underneath the building closest to “Walmer Plaza” in order to use the narrow ramp system to reach Victoria Street, or to access the switchbacks to the Capital City Trail. (see model further down page)1^^ This drawing shows how far the building encroaches on the bank and the Walmer Street Footbridge. The check-lined square shows the buildings recently built further down the river towards the city. We will see nothing but high rise buildings for the length of the river on the Abbotsford side.


^^Model of 607-627. Close-up of steps/detours under building, below.


**Also see earlier blog post from 2nd May on 607-627 for Minister’s response to the receipt of comments on Application DP1500043 (607-627).


Who pays?

What happens if the footbridge needs repairs after Walmer Street is lifted 2 metres, with the only access being stairs down to the footbridge level, or the narrow, switchback shared path?

What the council said:

In addition, access is also required to the footbridge for future maintenance purposes. Heavy plant and equipment would be required to access the bridge to undertake significant repairs and for the eventual replacement of the bridge at the end of its life. If the design of the development does not allow for access to the bridge by trucks, the applicant would need to replace the footbridge at their cost.

If there is no access for trucks/heavy machinery how will the footbridge be maintained/fixed? Helicopter? Barges? Pack mules? All expensive/impossible options.

But the developer, Salta, will have sold all financial interest in the developments, and therefore responsibility for the developments, and flown off to spread their *design excellence* over other suburbs.

So who will pay? Either the body corporates of the developments, (unlikely), or the ratepayers of  City of Yarra.

So we’re not only losing public land and assets, we’re going to have to pay a fortune to fix/maintain another public asset because a developer has cut off maintenance access to it.

***We’ve received an email pointing out that the stairs/narrow, circuitous path combination also makes it much more difficult for ambulance or emergency services workers to access anyone injured on the river path, or the Abbotsford end of the footbridge. 

We suppose that as it’s only unimportant members of the public who’ll be affected, no-one bothered to consider that. 




Don’t mention the drain…don’t mention the drain

Underground Council Stormwater Drain in Walmer Street

What the council said:

177. Walmer Street contains a 1.2 metre diameter underground drain which connects Victoria Street and the Yarra River. A site inspection indicates that the drain’s headwall (the drain’s outlet structure) is located just east of the footbridge. The application drawings show a vehicular connecting tunnel that would be constructed across and over the drain. Alarmingly, the drain has not been depicted on any of the drawings.

Dear Salta, it’s a pretty large drain, but you don’t seem to have spotted it. We found it for you. Here it is:


Below is an updated picture sent in by a reader of the drain with what appear to be polluted substances emptying into the river.

***Apologies to our contributor and thanks for the correction: this picture was some months earlier in 2016, so is not an update, but rather a backdate. The photographer attempted to report the pollution to City of Yarra, but could not negotiate the website on their phone, so is unsure if the report was received.



Plan for “Walmer Plaza”

Scroll for plan, model, and council opinion.



^^ Simplified plan sent in by reader.  Salta plan below.

Bike ramp gone. Long, narrow and circuitous two-way shared pathways, sharp switchback turns, path partly underneath building.  Note bank is not flat as shown in plan, but steeply sloping. Closest building is only 22metres from river. Planting plan submitted by Salta proposes unsuitable plants. Space allotted for planting is exaggerated in drawing.



^^ Model shows steps, detour under building, bike/disabled ramp gone.

01 - Copy (3)

^^Remaining space in “Plaza” for pedestrian/cyclist thoroughfare. Bicycle parking shown is NOT public bicycle parking. The statutory bicycle parking on-site requirement  is for 167 spaces : 111 resident/staff and 56 visitor spaces. The 56 visitor spaces are located in “Walmer Plaza”and “Davidson Plaza”(other side of development).

What the Council said about the  proposed pedestrian and bicycle access:

“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 into 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.”

(a) It appears that only around a third of the upper Walmer Plaza area is proposed to be a dedicated pedestrian precinct. The main area fronting Victoria Street is largely proposed for vehicular access/egress,hard stand paving and some bicycle parking. This is not a satisfactory resolution of the plaza space.”


“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 Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF) states:

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.

Just how many planning rules don’t seem to apply to Salta?

607-627 Victoria Street, Abbotsford

Scroll to bottom for update on meetings.

The Minister for Planning (the Minister) is the Responsible Authority for assessing and determining planning applications at 607-627 Victoria Street, Abbotsford within the Priority Development Zone – Schedule 1 (PUZ1) that applies to the site.

On 23 November 2015, the Minister received a Development Plan application for the land at 607-627 Victoria Street, Abbotsford.

Key details of the Development Plan are as follows:

  • Two buildings between 10 and 11 storeys (plus 3 level basement);
  • Mixed-use comprising:
    788sqm of commercial floor area
    539 dwellings ((242 x 1 bedroom, 262 x 2 bedroom & 35 x 3 bedroom)
    various communal residential spaces
  • 508 car parking spaces (551 required) accessed via Walmer Plaza
  • 229 bicycle spaces

The Minister for Planning has directed that the Development Application is placed on display in accordance with the requirements of the PUZ1 . A link to the Development Plan and supporting documents is available here.

Any written comments about the development plan must be sent to the Development Approvals section at the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) via email at development.approvals@delwp.vic.gov.au or addressed to 1 Spring Street, Melbourne VIC 3000.

Quote  DP1500043

Written comments must be provided to DELWP by 9 May 2016.

Should you have any questions regarding this matter, require a hard copy of electronic copy of any documentation, or would like to arrange an appointment to view the Development Plan, please contact the Development Approvals team at

DELWP on 9223 5348.

From City of Yarra website: http://www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/planning–building/Major-developments/607-627-victoria-street-abbotsford/#wrapper

****Responses from Minister Wynne.

People who commented on DP1500043 were acknowledged by the DELWP, with the advice that comments would be noted and considered.
Those who missed the deadline for comments, but emailed the Minister’s office later have received various responses.
The most recent responses received have been:
“at the urging of the Minister, Salta has agreed to hold community meetings where interested persons can voice their concerns and hear what Salta are proposing to respond…If you would like to register to attend please contact Lloyd Elliott, Director, Urbis to register for a session.”
lelliott@urbis.com.au   tel: 03 8663 4888    m 0405 031 725

While the Minister and his staff are to be commended for responding to the public concern, it would be more in keeping with usual practice for the responsible authority (either Council or Minister) to convene a public meeting, in a public forum (such as Collingwood Town Hall), with an impartial moderator.

It is also unusual to request people to register with the developer/developer’s planning consultant for a meeting.
A public consultation should be conducted as a public meeting which any interested party may attend without  permission/invitation from the developer.

To email the Minister to express misgivings about this unusual and seemingly inappropriate procedure : email richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au, and point out that over 1,000 people have directly expressed their concern by signing a petition. A series of private presentations by the developer is both unusual, and inadequate to address the overwhelming amount of community concern.

Update: The meetings with Salta proposed by the Minister’s office have finally been given dates and times, as follows:

Wednesday 13 July (6-8pm) and Saturday 16 July (10.30am-12.30pm)
The meetings will be held in the Salta display suite, Walmer Street, Abbotsford. (The display suite is the building jammed against the bike ramp).

Register your attendance by 5pm Monday 11th July :
lelliott@urbis.com.au   tel: 03 8663 4888    m 0405 031 725 or Dianne Jones: email djones@urbis.com.au, tel 8663 4888.  We suggest copying in the Minister for Planning, richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au to reinforce the level of community interest.

Hopefully a larger community  meeting convened by the responsible authority and open to all will follow from these small developer-led sessions.

VCAT Hearing begins for 647-9 Victoria St

Scroll for Planning Minister’s letter to VCAT.

The VCAT hearing for the proposed building at 647-649 Victoria Street begins today, in front of VCAT tribunal members, Jeanette Rickards (lawyer) and John Bennett (town planner). The hearing will last for 5 days.

Salta submitted a barrage of new expert reports. All of the (paid) reports state that the development will be the best thing to ever happen to the Yarra River bank.

The City of Yarra doesn’t agree.


“At Development Assessment Panel meeting on 5 April 2016, Council determined that if it were to be able to make the decision on the application, it would issue a Notice of Refusal to Grant a Planning Permit for the development of the land for buildings and works and the construction of a multi-storey building, use of the land as dwellings and to create and alter access to a Road Zone, subject to the following grounds:

  1. The proposal does not positively integrate with the public realm (being to Walmer Street and the river) and unreasonably privatises these interfaces.
  2. The proposal fails to provide adequate pedestrian and cyclist links through Walmer Street (between Victoria Street, Kew and the River).
  3. The proposal provides insufficient landscaping details and would unreasonably impact the amenity of the area. Melbourne Water Grounds
  4. The development setback from the Yarra River waterway corridor is considered inappropriate.
  5. The development is not consistent with State and Local Planning Policy.
  6. The size, scale and built form from this development will have a negative impact on the visual amenity of the Yarra River waterway (public open space).
  7. The interface and urban design treatment between the development; the Yarra River; and the proposed public realm is considered inappropriate.

The proposed development does not provide for Site Safety at the rear of the site were depths of flooding are approximately up to 3.0m in depth.”

Applicant’s evidence: