Impact Investment Group has won praise from the City of Melbourne for its plans to create “Victoria’s first carbon and water neutral adaptive reuse precinct”, following planning approval for stage 1 of its Younghusband development in Melbourne.

The stage 1 proposal breezed through the planning approval process with unanimous support from City of Melbourne and no appeals from the community or neighbouring businesses.

City of Melbourne councillor Rohan Leppert said the proposal was “one of, if not the finest planning application, I have had to consider since I was elected five years ago”.

“The amount of work dedicated by the applicant to repurpose this incredibly important heritage building is truly remarkable,” he said.

Located in Kensington, in Melbourne’s inner north-west, the development is set to transform a 100-year-old former woolstore spanning two blocks over 1.5 hectares into a mix of commercial office working spaces, retail and artists’ studios.

IIG hopes to attract “entrepreneurs, artisans, makers and technologists” with a broad range of floor sizes, with the first stage including more than 17,000 square metres of commercial space.

Sustainability will be key to development, with an equivalent five-star NABERS rating to be achieved across the entire project, and Passivhaus principles to be applied to all new builds.

The first stage will involve upgrading the heritage red-brick woolstore, retaining and reusing the existing structure and fabric in a bid to reduce embodied energy.

Particular sustainability features include:

  • a 442-kilowatt solar system
  • low temperature variable air volume HVAC
  • zoned building areas to reduce HVAC energy use
  • smart LED lighting
  • increased roof insulation and double-glazed windows
  • retention and reuse of rainwater
  • a green travel plan
  • a zero waste strategy

“We’ll remain flexible in our planning and development to accommodate new technologies and connect to precinct wide services and initiatives in later stages of the project,” an IIG statement said.

Woods Bagot has been appointed architect, with Wave Consulting as ESD consultant, Sustainable Development Consultants as waste consultant and Oculus as landscape architect.

The project will be developed over five years in three stages. Construction is set to begin in August 2018, with leasing of stage 1 now commenced, and spaces available to inhabit from October 2019.

“Younghusband is an ambitious, pioneering project and we are thrilled that the local community and the Melbourne City Council have wholeheartedly endorsed our bold new approach,” IIG head of real estate Darren Brusnahan said.

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