The skyline of Melbourne's central business district will soon change with the addition of five residential towers with over 2,000 apartments worth $557 million.
Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy approved on Tuesday the five projects along Collins St, Elizabeth St, Spencer and A'Beckett Streets and Docklands Drive. The buildings are expected to create over 4,000 jobs during the construction phase.
It was the biggest number of residential permits signed in a single day by Mr Guy, who assured the edifices would not destroy Melbourne's heritage appeal. While creating more housing units, it also honours the city's architectural history, the minister said.
Mr Guy disclosed that besides the 5 upcoming residential towers, he also approved recently 80 more buildings on the heritage register in the CBD. "That means we are doing our best as a government to preserve the heritage aspects of central Melbourne while also allowing for the regeneration of older sites for newer towers," he added.
However, the large number of permit approvals in one day alarmed RMIT planning expert Michael Buxton who called Mr Guy "Melbourne's greatest-ever vandal."
In opposing the 5 projects, Mr Burton pointed out that it would not attract middle-income city residents, mostly young and middle-aged people, who want medium-density properties, not small but expensive flats in the CBD.
"They're pulling down Melbourne to satisfy a few rich developers and overseas developers. Matthew Guy is not going to stop until Melbourne is destroyed. It's very serious for Melbourne. Once it's gone, it's gone forever," The Age quoted Mr Burton.
Defending the high-rise edifices which he said would not turn Melbourne into a Hong Kong, the minister said, "People often say to me, why do I keep approving tall buildings? My answer is because we have to optimise the space we have got in our central city area ... it is not infinite."
He added that the 5 projects "sends a signal to investors and to the construction industry that the city is going to go forward and that we have a pipeline for our construction industry."