With the significant changes in the property market over the past couple of years, Collie is finding it common for developers to seek changes to the use mix of approved developments, and in particular the conversion of small office spaces into apartments. One recent example of this was a site in Shakespeare Grove, St Kilda.
A planning permit had been issued for the site in Shakesphere Grove, at the direction of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a significant extension to an office building to provide retail tenancies at ground floor and office on the floors above. Collie was approached to provide assistance in negotiating the planning process to convert the office floor space into apartments.

As with many of these types of mixed use developments in activity centres that provide office space on the upper levels, the site is located in a Business 1 Zone (B1Z). The B1Z addresses office and dwelling uses in a similar vein, with a planning permit not required for either use subject to the ground floor frontage of residential use not exceeding 2 metres in width.

The planning permit for the site did not specifically approve ‘office’, as use as ‘office’ did not require a planning permit. Rather, the planning permit related to buildings and works and car parking dispensation. As use of the upper levels for residential would also not require a planning permit, the planning permit issued at the direction of the VCAT was still largely appropriate for a residential conversion.

Following extensive liaison with Council, it was agreed that further public notification of the proposal was not required as all necessary matters (in particular the built form and general appearance of the development) were not to change substantially and had been addressed as part of the previous assessment process. It was agreed that minor changes to the permit conditions were necessary to address the residential use now proposed, but a hearing at the VCAT was avoided, saving the developer time and money.

We look forward to the commencement of works on the site, which we understand are imminent. The site is in an excellent location behind Luna Park and close to the Peanut Farm Reserve and Acland Street. The distinctive facade treatments designed by the architect will make an excellent contribution to the eclectic character of St Kilda.