Property Council attacks opposition for seeking to block controversial Ormond tower

The Property Council of Australia has accused the state opposition of manufacturing investment uncertainty for politician gain, as the party seeks to block a controversial 13-storey tower planned for the top of Ormond train station.

The Andrews government has approved plans for Ormond’s first high-rise – a 233-apartment tower above the station on North Road – that is set to dwarf surrounding buildings.

It was opposed by local residents and Glen Eira Council, which pushed for an eight-storey structure, but was approved by a planning panel in March for 13 storeys and supported by Planning Minister Richard Wynne who outlined proposed changes to the Glen Eira planning gazetted last month.

But the project could now hit yet another roadblock as the opposition moves to disallow the proposed amendment in the upper house on Wednesday.

If the opposition is successful, this would take the project back to the drawing board, potentially unravelling an extensive planning process.

The opposition would need the support of the Greens or the full crossbench to halt the development.

The Greens are yet to form a position, while Vote 1 Local Jobs James Purcell and Australian Conservatives’ Rachel Carling-Jenkins said they were undecided.


The Sex Party’s Fiona Patten also said she was undecided, but was open to hearing the opposition’s arguments in Parliament. The two Shooter, Fishers and Farmers MPs did not respond to calls.

Opposition public transport spokesman David Davis said he was not opposed to “sensible value capture”, but described the tower in the low-rise area as “inappropriate planning”.

“The opposition is deeply concerned with the government’s approach to its massive and inappropriate tower in the local Ormond shopping centre,” said Mr Davis.

“The opposition supports sensible transport orientated development but does not support riding roughshod over local communities as occurred in Ormond.”

The Coalition has also flagged another revocation motion of the controversial Markham Estate – 1.4 hectares of prime Ashburton land the Andrews government wants to develop for both private and public housing.

Both of these motions have been slammed by executive director of Property Council Australia’s Victorian branch Sally Capp​, who accused the opposition of creating planning uncertainty to benefit their own political purposes.

She urged other parliamentarians to reject Mr Davis’ proposals.

“This is not a political game,” she said.

“We are disappointed, concerned and frustrated. One of the main things that really drives affordability and supply of housing is planning certainty and these motions against Ormond Station and Markham Estate … will throw everything up in the air.

She said the project was a “poster child” for urban property development, “at a time when we absolutely have to address more housing supply in the middle ring”.

“Urban density in places that are close to jobs, public transport and other services will bring jobs into the area in terms of building, construction; it will bring new opportunities for the local community in terms of the sort of amenity it is going to offer.”

Mr Davis’ moves come despite Opposition Leader Matthew Guy approving thousands of apartments in Melbourne’s CBD when he was planning minister – including in what he claimed was first 100-storey building in the southern hemisphere – earning him the moniker “My Skyscraper”.

In 2014, he approved a 31-storey tower in South Yarra, despite Stonnington Council’s preferred heigh limit of 13 storeys.

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said said Mr Davis was a “loose cannon” who was “threatening jobs and investor confidence”.

“The Liberals spent four years selling Melbourne’s skyline to the highest bidder, and now they want to play petty politics with a vital project that delivers safer streets, more trains and new homes,” she said.

Glen Eira mayor Mary Delahunty​ said the council engaged experts to decide on the appropriate type of building for the area, and while she believed it would still be too high, the community now wanted certainty.

“It would be disappointing if we see this drag on any longer, and still have the same outcome. It is being used as a political football and that’s not fair to the residents, they need to know what’s going on in their neighbourhood,” she said.

The development will have street-level retail, and office and apartments above the station that was revamped under the government’s signature $6.9 billion level crossing removal project.