Approvals for four major projects, including the country's tallest residential tower, has been fast-tracked in Melbourne following the formation of a high-level planning taskforce.
The taskforce, spearheaded by Victoria's planning minister Richard Wynne and treasurer Tim Pallas, will now identify and recommend large-scale projects that can be fast-tracked for approval and commencement, in a bid to boost the state's pandemic-hit economy.
Former Lendlease Victoria head Roger Teale, Victorian Planning Authority chairwoman Jude Munro and chief executive of government agency Solar Victoria Stan Krpan are also on the taskforce.
The collective will now advise on financial incentives and current revenue measures—such as land tax, developer contributions, fees and rates—and make recommendations to boost business and fast-track investment.
Officials said the taskforce would run for an initial period of three months, reporting back to the state government with recommendations.
The combined approved projects, worth more than $1.5 billion in building costs alone towards Victoria’s economy, will aim to prop up the struggling development industry.
They include Malaysian-backed Beulah's $2 billion mixed-use Southbank by Beulah development, Charter Hall's $1.5 billion office project at 555 Collins Street, Dexus' $650-million 52-60 Collins Street commercial project and Pace Development's $300 million residential project at 550 Epsom Road in Flemington.
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“Given the economic challenges caused by coronavirus, it’s more important than ever that we support our building and development industry and the thousands of people it employs,” Treasurer Tim Pallas said.
“We’re planning and delivering the major projects Victoria needs— supporting jobs and doing what we can to help businesses survive to the other side of this crisis.”
The approvals are timely. Early this week, the state government warned that as many as 270,000 jobs could be lost in the state this year as a result of the coronavirus crisis after reviewing new economic modelling.
Beulah International's plan for two twisting, terraced towers on the site of the BMW dealership will create 789 apartments, a 322-key hotel, 27,000sq m of office space and 32,000sq m of retail space.
The project, designed by Dutch architecture firm UNStudio and Melbourne’s Cox, is set to generate up to 4,700 construction jobs.
Charter Hall's 555 Collins Street development will comprise 84,000sq m of premium grade office space and over 2,300sq m of retail across two stages.
Demolition on site is under way with construction of the first building expected to commence in mid-2020 create over 2,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the country's largest landlord, Dexus, has been given the green light for a new office building at the prized top end of Melbourne's Collins Street.
It is unclear at this stage when the 35,000sq m project, set to be built across a 2000sq m site, will commence.
Further afield, at Flemington racecourse, Pace Development Group will press ahead with its 15-storey residential building, set to deliver 300-apartments and sit atop the 1,200 metre main racing straight known as the StraightSix.
The Flemington project is set to begin marketing in the first quarter of next year, with construction set to commence in the second quarter.
The state government will now engage the taskforce to roll-through a pipeline of building and development projects, over the longer term, including initiatives that aim to further expand social housing options.
“This taskforce will help ensure the building and development industry is a driving force for Victoria’s economy through this pandemic and beyond,” minister for planning Richard Wynne said.