"> Europa on Alma – UPco

31-39 Alma Road, St Kilda

Client: Bolton Clarke
Project type: Residential (retirement living)
Stakeholders: City of Port Phillip, local and wider community
Value: $20 million

Image courtesy of DWP Architects

The project
When RDNS (Royal District Nursing Service) and RSL Care merged in 2016 to create Bolton Clarke, the RDNS team vacated their former office on St Kilda Road – which occupies a prime position on the doorstep of the St Kilda Road South Growth Precinct and associated Principal Public Transport Network infrastructure.

Given the site’s location and untapped potential, it would make for a top-quality independent living community: a space tailor-made to give seniors access to the very best lifestyle and amenities. While Bolton Clarke had successfully established such communities in NSW and Queensland, this would be their first in Victoria – making it a significant project.

UPco was engaged late in 2016 to analyse the project and plans through a Victorian statutory planning lens, and provide detailed planning advice – including application strategies to avoid unnecessary complications.

The challenge

As with many larger developments in established areas, there was some pushback – but we worked with Council to formulate a suite of conditions that resolved these issues. While this collaboration avoided a dispute before VCAT, some amendments to the original permit still needed to be made: specifically, an extension of time, and the review of a height condition. We successfully applied to VCAT for a review, and both matters were taken to a compulsory conference.

The outcome

Foresight, skilled negotiation and strong relationships with other experts in the field meant that the Tribunal ruled in favour of the extension and condition amendment. The amended permit was issued in June 2017.

The result is ‘Europa on Alma’: a retirement village with 81 independent residences and 2 levels of basement car parking, set across a combination of four and six storey buildings. The Alma Road frontage is activated by a café, while helps to integrate residents with the surrounding community – and the village also offers a range of facilities including community lounges, a function room, a library, a games room, a theatre and landscaped communal gardens.

In October 2022, the development’s design excellence was recognised at the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) Victorian Awards for Excellence, where it was shortlisted in the Special Purpose Living award category. Residents are now enjoying everything this bayside village has to offer, and UPco is continuing to support Bolton Clarke throughout its evolution.