Providing services in town and regional planning, traffic engineering, sustainable transportation planning, urban design and waste management.

46, 48 & 50-5 Marlborough St

Urban Design

46, 48 and 50-58 Marlborough Street, Balaclava

marlborough street balaclava
  • Client

    Housing First Limited

  • Council

    City of Port Phillip

  • Location


  • Contact

    Patrick Coombes


Development Summary

This social housing project delivers 46 dwellings comprising, studio, one, two and three bedroom layouts in a six storey building designed by Doig Architects. The development incorporates a ground floor shop and public realm improvements including an urban plaza as well as 14 at grade car parking spaces for residents and separately, 39 basement car parking spaces for public purposes. 

Project Characteristics

The Minister for Planning has directed that a permit issue for this social housing project on a site that abuts the Balaclava railway station in the City of Port Phillip’s Carlisle Major Activity Centre. The site has been earmarked for community housing purposes by successive Council strategic planning documents as well as by the planning scheme for many years.  It is zoned Mixed Use, has excellent access to public transport services as well as other shopping, employment and community activities.  

The project approval was facilitated by the review and assessment undertaken by the Priority Projects Standing Advisory Committee (PPSAC).  The Minister had called in the VCAT Application for Review of the council decision to grant a permit, and referred the matter to the PPSAC.

Ratio was engaged by the permit applicant to prepare expert evidence regarding the urban design expression and proposed built form particularly given the site was affected by a Design Development Overlay (DDO) with a preferred building height of four storeys.

The design challenges presented by the particular site influences, local policy and statutory controls required the building to position higher building form away from the low-rise residential development to the south in a Heritage Overlay and provide a transition down to this lower scale development, particularly at the site’s western boundary.

The Ratio evidence was able to demonstrate that the six storey proposal met the quantitative sight line and visual bulk tests in the DDO and the qualitative objectives had also been achieved.

Modifications made in the amended plans to the materials, openings and articulation of the Marlborough Street elevation introduced warmer tones and a respectful response to the fine grain residential context. Contrasting materials and expression at upper levels emphasised the lower two-storey scale of the podium and made upper levels appear more visually recessive.

The Priority Projects Standing Advisory Committee accepted this evidence and after facilitating a round table discussion, recommended to the Minister that a permit issue with conditions. 

This social housing project provides a much needed place for people in need of a permanent accommodation to call home and delivers a considered response to the public realm and the construction of a new urban plaza that connects and extends other existing urban spaces.

marlborough street balaclava