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  • Writer's pictureThe Rotunda

Piedimonte’s set for dramatic transformation

Updated: May 27, 2021

By Charlie Gill

The Piedimonte’s supermarket development saga that has held the community in its thrall has reached a critical junction. Four years o

n from the development first being proposed in 2017, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) approved plans this month for the demolition of the current Piedimonte’s building and surrounding structures, making way for the construction of two new buildings.

Image courtesy of Jackson Clements Burrows Architects

Building A, facing St Georges Road, will be seven stories high while Building B – the site where the Motley Bauhaus and Muscrats are currently situated – will be four stories. Together, these new structures will house a revamped supermarket and liquor store with a multi-story apartment complex above it.

In 2017, a more ambitious proposal sparked community uproar, with over 600 objections put to council. Building A was to be nine stories and Building B seven stories, with over ninety one-bedroom apartments.

A revised plan saw Piedimonte’s reduce the project to seven stories and five stories, with approximately thirty fewer apartments, most of them for two or three people.

In May 2020, a six-storey Building A and a five-storey Building B was recommended by council officers to the City of Yarra councillors, who then voted against it 7 to 2.

Piedemontes subsequently appealed the decision, taking it to VCAT. The Piedimonte’s legal counsel contested the matter with the City of Yarra, Fitzroy North Residents Action Group (FNRAG) and other concerned action groups. The hearing commenced December 7th 2020 and ended with a site inspection by VCAT on December 22 2020.

VCAT’s final decision earlier this month overruled the council and allows Piedimonte’s to proceed with their revised proposal, but with one apartment less in Building A and one story (three apartments) removed from Building B.

FNRAG sent an email to its supporters on May 13th, expressing its disappointment but acknowledging that its advocacy led to a “significantly improved development”.

FNRAG’s Glenn Morrison said that the residents were never opposed to the idea of development itself, though they hoped for something with a lower density, more consistent with the area’s village vibe.

“The VCAT fight was all about the sheer scale, mass, height. (The proposed development) was too big for this neighbourhood. North Fitzroy is pretty unique in that – as they call it in urban design parlance – it’s a fine-grained neighbourhood, with lots of small entities.”

Joseph Piedimonte, Operations Manager for Pieidimonte’s, said they welcomed the VCAT decision.

“As a business we heard the community’s concerns with the initial design in 2017, we employed new architects and redesigned the whole concept to address those concerns.”

The hearing was undertaken with the understanding that following the final decision, there will be no further recourse for any of the involved parties. The development, however, is contingent on Piedimonte’s purchasing the laneway off Scotchmer Street from the Yarra Council.

Expectation is that the Council will indeed sell the laneway. Should this expectation be met, North Fitzroy’s village will be set for change – though how much change is yet to be known.

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