Tower plan ... The proposed site near Station Pier at Port Melbourne.
Tower plan ... The proposed site near Station Pier at Port Melbourne. Photo: Pat Scala

A PLAN to allow a high-rise building at a property owned by a multinational Kuwaiti company has angered Port Melbourne residents who say it would lead to Gold Coast-style development.

The property is at the centre of a broader council proposal to rejuvenate the waterfront.
Port Phillip Council will seek public feedback for its draft plan to redesign a large section of Port Melbourne.

The draft allows for a 14-storey tower near Station Pier.

It includes plans for more shops to cater for tourists stepping off cruise ships and traffic changes to ease congestion.

Beacon Cove Neighbourhood Association president Eddie Micallef said the government under former premier Jeff Kennett introduced a three-storey height limit for the site.

Mr Micallef said 14 storeys was too high and residents were fiercely opposed to the proposal.

He said high-rise buildings would block sea views and create a wind tunnel, long shadows and traffic problems. ‘‘It’s a magnificent view and it’s worth keeping,’’ he said.

Mr Micallef said the plans also allowed for a 10-storey tower on the site, which would spoil the view for tourists arriving at Port Melbourne.

‘‘We don’t want their first view of Melbourne to be two high-rise towers.’’

Port Phillip Mayor Rachel Powning said the draft aimed to preserve the area’s maritime history and ‘‘unique character’’.

She said the council designed the plan to ensure ‘‘high quality’’ future developments at the site.

Albert Park MP Martin Foley, whose electorate covers Port Melbourne, has written to residents outlining his opposition to the proposed high-rise building.

He said the site’s height restriction had helped lure some residents to Port Melbourne.

Kuwaiti billionaire Sheikh Mubarak Abdulla Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah’s company is believed to have bought the site for $21 million.

In 2010 The Age reported that he planned to build a 28-storey tower on the property, but his plans remain unclear.

The company is yet to submit an application for the development to the council.

The Australian arm of the sheikh’s company, Action Group Australia, operates hotels in Glen Waverley and Brisbane.

The company’s website describes the property as one of the ‘‘few remaining development sites’’ in the area. It said the site could be used for a residential or hotel development.

The sheikh’s Australian business partner Andrew Nehme could not be reached for comment.
A former gym and child care centre sit empty at the site.

Residents fear the building could eventually exceed 14 storeys if the sheikh successfully challenges the council’s height restrictions.

Helen Kuchel, chairwoman of resident group Port People, said a building at the proposed height would create a ‘‘physical barrier’’ to the beach and foreshore.