‘Disposable’ buildings not acceptable

A five-year-old building in Melbourne is earmarked for demolition and there is nothing the government can do about it but to approve it.

The 6195 sqm 12-storey RMIT student housing complex in North Melbourne is set to be replaced by a 19-storey student accommodation building and two rent-to-build towers of 19-22 storeys. Despite council approving the demolition, Melbourne’s Deputy Mayor Nicholas Reece has plenty to say about it.

“At a time when we are pushing towards zero emissions and zero waste, it is just unacceptable to be constructing and demolishing disposable buildings,” he told The Guardian.

The council was powerless to stop the demolition, according to Mr Reece, as there is nothing in Victorian planning or the council regulations to do otherwise. He added that federal, state and local laws may only prevent buildings being demolished in relation to heritage factors.

The City of Melbourne Council voted last week to approve the application by Urban Planning Collective for demolition of the student village on behalf of developer Centurion Australia Investments.

In October, the council launched its plan to retrofit Melbourne’s buildings with the aim of 80 each year. Currently only seven buildings in the city are being retrofitted annually, however, the planners told councillors it was not viable to redevelop the site using retrofitting

A Victoria Government spokesperson said the state’s planning policy “encourages the use of recycled and reusable materials in building construction and to undertake adaptive reuse of buildings where practical”.

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is our weekly news journalist and the editor of Concrete in Australia magazine for 10 years. She has been heavily involved in all forms of engineering since 2013; part of a 30-year writing career across a range of subjects and media.