Bennelong’s West Melbourne towers approved with height cut

Changes required: An artist’s impression of 371 Spencer Street, West Melbourne. Photo: Bruce Henderson Architects
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Changes required: An artist’s impression of 371 Spencer Street, West Melbourne. Photo: Bruce Henderson Architects

Changes required: An artist’s impression of 371 Spencer Street, West Melbourne. Photo: Bruce Henderson Architects

Changes required: An artist’s impression of 371 Spencer Street, West Melbourne. Photo: Bruce Henderson Architects

A seven-year effort to get approval for two towers in West Melbourne has finally paid off for rich-lister Jeff Chapman after Victoria’s planning tribunal gave them a green light, dismissing a Melbourne Council bid to reject the proposal.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has backed efforts by Mr Chapman’s investment vehicle Bennelong Group to build a “village” with shops and apartments on the corner of Spencer and Batman streets.

But the approval came with a sting: the towers have been given a significant height cut.

Bennelong Funds’ originally proposed two towers – one rising 39 levels, and another 29 – to be built atop a five-level podium that would have included 749 units, 548 car park bays and 223 bike spaces.

Instead the group, which purchased the large site next to the Melbourne Remand Centre at 371 Spencer Street and 83-113 Batman Street from Multiplex in March 2006, was forced to lop at least seven levels off each tower.

A number of other changes were also required, including redesigning setbacks, canopies and apartments overlooking the Remand Centre.

Mr Chapman made his fortune from listing Sportsworld Media Group on the London stock exchange. One of his investment vehicles, Bennelong Property Funds Management, was recently rebranded to Hume Partners Property, led by managing director Scott Davies.

Mr Davies said it had taken seven years to get approval for the building designed by Bruce Henderson Architects.

“We’ve got an ability to crack on with this project relatively quickly,” Mr Davies said.

The long-running negotiations over the development resulted in amended plans being submitted to the planning minister in April last year.

Those plans reduced the total number of apartments to 704 and cut car spaces by 11.