Saturday, January 9, 2010

Do we need high rises in the suburbs?

So have you heard about the planned 38 level mixed use residential and office tower in Box Hill? I don't know about you but I think this will stick out like a sore thumb. Developers should be seeking incrememental height change rather than an immediate eye catching showcase. The scary thing though, this building has been pulled out of normal planning considerations and fast tracked through the planning minister's department for approval.

Brumby, Madden and the Labor party are ripping apart normal planning considerations in the name of jobs. As Melburnians we have to ask if this acceptable or not? Do we want mega high rises inconsistent with the existing landscape and without infrastructure to support them? To me this is certainly on the nose. We don't need planning on the run, otherwise we'd turn into sydney. A trip down sydney's anzac parade can show you how ugly a city can turn without proper planning. Something has to be done about this cozy relationship between developers and Labor. Especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Otherwise, the stink of corruption, masquerading as job stimulus is likely to rear its ugly head.

So what can be done? The most effective action is to let the political parties know their limits. Could a protest vote in the eastern suburbs send a message to Labor?

Secondly, there has been precedents overseas of residents taking action against mega rises. For example in Beijing, residents threatened legal action against Siemens for their proposed mega tower outside of the Beijing CBD. Sophisticated light and shadow simulations were used to determine a detrimental shadowing effect on neighbouring buildings. Neighbouring buildings could claim increased lighting bills, a detrimental effect on solar hot water and solar photovoltaic systems.

Let's not take our surburbs and way of life for granted. This is not about stopping development, rather stopping inappropriate non-holistic development. Buildings need to be integrated with their surroundings. Just as the global financial crisis highlighted the need to rein in those in the finance industry, similarly developers need to be reined in.

No comments: