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Melbourne Council unveils plans for new CBD ‘landmark’

An artist's impression of how the refurbished Commonwealth Bank Building would appear from the street.

An artist’s impression of how the refurbished Commonwealth Bank Building would appear from the street.

Council House 2 was the first Australian building to be awarded a six-star green rating.

But urban planning expert Dominique Hes, who researched the council’s Council House 2 project, said aiming for a six-star rating was no longer sufficient for a building to be deemed sustainable.

“Six star is wonderful, but not leading edge any more because they did that 10 years ago,” Dr Hes said. “The green infrastructure – green roof that’s publicly accessible, a vegetated facade – will be great. For it be a leading project, I would [want to know] the ecological capital and social capital they’ll be producing.”

Dr Hes said if done well, the proposed precinct has the potential be more impressive than Council House 2, which has received numerous accolades, including a Planning Institute of Australia president’s award.

“I think that it’s a development that could really revitalise that part of Melbourne,” she said.

The rooftop of Council House 2, one of the greenest and healthiest office buildings in Melbourne's CBD.

The rooftop of Council House 2, one of the greenest and healthiest office buildings in Melbourne’s CBD.Credit:Jessica Shapiro

“It has always been a slightly disjointed, under-utilised part of Bourke Street.”

If councillors vote in favour of submitting an application for a planning permit, and if the permit is approved, construction on the project can start in early 2020 and be finished by 2024.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp plugged the project’s potential to reinvigorate retail and commercial opportunities in the CBD.

“This redevelopment will create a new landmark for Melbourne in terms of sustainable urban design and how we activate our streets for people to enjoy,” Ms Capp said.

“It will see a new city precinct where people can meet and access council services, including new laneways, shared rooftops and a new community forum …

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said councillors will consider the plan to invest $232 million on a new civic precinct.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said councillors will consider the plan to invest $232 million on a new civic precinct. Credit:Darrian Traynor

“This entire precinct will be opened up at street level via the creation of new laneways where people will be able to discover new cafes and shops. These laneways will also offer endless possibilities when it comes to holding community gatherings and events.”

The council will rake in $153 million over 35 years through rent and savings, and the project would break even within 20 years, according to council documents.

Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood said council wanted to create a “next-generation” site that exceeded the achievements of Council House 2.

“We will also bring to life our globally recognised Urban Forest and Biodiversity strategies by greening laneways, creating a garden atrium and providing green rooftops for the community to enjoy,” he said.

Sumeyya is a trainee journalist for The Age.

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