Local politicians in Melbourne have demanded that the Victoria state parliament withdraw its planning permission for Foster + Partners’ flagship Apple store in the Australian city after a wave of criticism
The City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne Committee moved a motion calling for the mayor to write to the state government demanding it overturn planning permission for the project in the city’s iconic Federation Square.
Foster + Partners’ designs for the megastore – consisting of a two-level pavillion with wrap-around glass, balconies, metal cladding and stone flooring – were unveiled shortly before Christmas.
But opposition has been fierce, with online petitions and a campaign called Our City Our Square run by a group, mainly architects, known as Citizens for Melbourne.
The motion passed by the Future Melbourne Committee said the city had asked the state to ‘commit to a significant redesign’ of the Apple store ‘to avoid pavilion or temple-like design that is out of context in Federation Square and poorly integrated with the square’s existing architecture’.
It called for the mayor to write to the state on 15 February, demanding the existing planning permission for the scheme be scrapped and a new process undertaken.
Green state MP for Melbourne Ellen Sandell tweeted: ‘We have moved a motion to revoke the planning approval for the Apple megastore at Fed Square. The Labor governemnt must now go back to drawing board and consult the community on alternate location for Apple, or parliament can block their [plans] in two weeks’ time.’
James Lesh, urbanist and reaearcher at the University of Melbourne and secretary of Citizens for Melbourne, told the AJ: ‘The City of Melbourne received over 850 submissions, a record number, supporting its Apple Store motion. We facilitated 847 of them. The motion demanded the Andrews Labor State Government reboot the planning process for its Apple megastore.
’It’s an election year and the citizens are stirring, so anything could happen.’
Ellen Sandell, the Victoria government, Apple and Foster + Partners have all been contacted for comment.
Foster + Partners Melbourne Apple scheme in Federation Square
Speaking when the designs were launched last year, Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president for retail, said: ‘Apple Federation Square respects the original vision for the plaza, with a bespoke design concept and extensive landscaping bringing increased opportunities for the community to enjoy this renowned cultural hub.’
Apple said its new store in Federation Square would be powered entirely by renewable energy, and create more than 200 jobs at the technology giant.