131-139 Sturt Street, Southbank

Client: Evolve Development Pty Ltd
Project type: Mixed use (apartments, food & beverage, retail)
Stakeholders: Melbourne City Council, Department of Transport and Planning, local community
Value: $80 million

The project
Melbourne’s Arts Precinct encompasses some of the city’s most famous civic spaces. Close to the city while still enjoying the riverside and public gardens, the area is in high demand – which continues to grow with ongoing Victorian Government investment into the precinct.

Having acquired a site at the southern end of the precinct, Evolve Development approached UPco in 2019 to amend the existing permit. The mission was to create a well-crafted mixed-use development, while improving the site’s commercial viability.

The challenge

We needed to obtain amendments to the planning permit from VCAT in an evolving statutory context requiring the balancing of directly competing design requirements.

The City of Melbourne was soon to gazette a built form control focusing on attractive urban design. So, we needed to measure our client’s proposal against these new design outcomes.

Later, Council was considering an amendment to controls in the planning scheme that would require specific attention to managing flood risk through design. Proactively, we advocated for an exemption – Evolve had already factored in flood management, and these new controls would cut into financial viability without providing much more flood protection.

The outcome

With our clear communication and knack for problem solving, we balanced these often-competing design objectives. Achieving a great outcome for Evolve, VCAT granted an amended permit. Since then, we’ve secured further amendments – unlocking the full potential of the site and realising Evolve’s vision for its Southbank property.

Designed by Hayball, this striking project is set for completion in 2025. It will house 208 apartments over 18 storeys, providing housing diversity within the expanding living destination of Southbank. Hospitality premises and communal areas will benefit tenants and visitors, and commercial art spaces will pay continuing homage to Sturt Street’s well-established context within the Arts Precinct.