The Development and Planning Commission yesterday approved Eurocity, a project to build 366 flats in three towers located in the Europort area.
The developer’s representatives and DPC members discussed the project for over an hour before it was given the green light.
One of the biggest changes to the development since outline planning permission was approved last year is that the ground floor shopping area will now go right through the development. In addition, more entry and exits points have been created making the area more accessible.
Other changes include an increase in office space on the Europort Avenue side of the development, replacing the car park, this aims to improve the visuals of the development.
The basement has been reduced in size so that it no longer comes up to the site boundary or to Eurotowers, it is hoped that this will improve the disturbance during the construction faze for local residents.
One of the blocks has been turned 180 degrees so that the lift side will now face Eurotowers, thereby reducing the number of windows looking onto the neighbouring development.
The podium level was lowered to improve the vista for Eurotower and Chilton Court residents.
But the project was not without its opponents. While eight commission members voted in favour of the development, two voted against and one person abstained.
One of the main reasons for the no vote related to the proximity of the development to nearby residential towers such as Eurotowers and Chilton Court.
The developers have designed space between each of the new Eurocity towers by pushing them closer to existing buildings, rather than to each other.
“Isn’t ironic that it [the development] actually impacts on the existing buildings rather than on the proposed buildings,” said one commission member.
“It benefits your building at the cost of the surrounding ones,” said the other no voter to the applicant.
A discussion was had regarding the distances the new developments will be from existing ones and aside from two situations there is seven to nine meters on average distance. It was estimated that the distance between the two Eurotower buildings is less.
It was noted by one commission member that discussions regarding the distance were held at outline planning permission which was granted and we should not reopen the debate about massing again.
The applicant pointed out that the podium levels in the proximity of nearby buildings will have extensive landscaping – thereby making it more visually appealing-, and will be open to the public to enjoy. It was also noted that the planned landscaping is semi-mature but will develop further in time.
The DPC received four letters objecting to the development, the concerns addressed in these included; distance between buildings; loss of daylight being below the 20% minimum requirement; loss of privacy, views and open space; noise and dust pollution during construction. They also suggested that the buildings could be rotated to reduce the impact on their own developments.
The applicant has spoken to local residents throughout the design and application process and said they are still open to discussions on concerns some may have. It was noted that the vast majority of the changes in the design from the outline to full planning stage has been because of consultation with nearby residents.
The main issues for consideration the DPC have surrounded architecture, parking provision, traffic, daylight/sunlight, landscaping and sustainability.
On parking, the applicant is seeking permission for 20 spaces less than they attained approval for in outline planning permission. The reason there are less spaces relates to the removal of one floor that resulted in the public podium being lowered.
DPC member, Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, raised his concern that investors would buy properties in the development be allocated a parking space but would not utilise that parking space and this would result in a carpark full of unused spaces.
The applicant said that some spaces are already allocated out to West One residents, residents of Eurotowers and commercial entities that will take up space in Eurocity. He said it had not yet been decided as to how the remainder 203 parking spaces would be allocated. The applicant said a parking management plan will be produced and made available to the DPC.
On daylight/sunlight, Town Planning was concerned that 21 out of 42 sampled windows are below the recommended levels, at present the number is five out of the 42 sampled. On landscaping, it wanted to see a detailed landscaping and public realm proposals; details on the public, private and communal gardens; would like to see vertical planting to the exterior of the car parking levels and the Department of Environment recommended green or brown roofs.
On sustainability, it wanted to see clean energy initiatives such as photovoltaic panels, solar water heating, water harvesting and heat pumps being considered.
The DPC was told that green options were being considered and the applicant had only last week received confirmation that any excess energy produced by photovoltaic panels could be fed into the grid.
At the beginning of yesterday’s meeting a two minute silence was held in honour of a colleague, Wilfred Gavito, 56, who passed away on June 3.
Main photo by Ben Fairbanks, a Bayside student on work experience.