Many of our regular readers have enquired as to what is happening with Federation Square and the proposed Apple Store announced this year. Good news! The National Trust of Australia’s Victorian branch nominated Federation Square for protection in early August. Heritage Victoria has handed down an interim order prohibiting any works anywhere in the vicinity of Federation Square – including the Metro Rail Tunnel. The interim order is considered a serious indication that Heritage Victoria is considering granting permanent protection to the Federation Square Precinct.
Works were not planned to commence until 2019. Supporters of the precinct such as ‘Citizens for Melbourne’ believe this is a strong indication that Heritage Victoria is looking to include the precinct on the Victorian Heritage Register. President Tania Davige said the interim order permits her organisation and others to take stock and assess the very special nature of Federation Square – or at least what it is that makes it truly special.
“Hopefully, after eight months of discussion behind closed doors, Victorians will now have the opportunity to have a say about the future of their public, cultural and civic square.”
The order also states that Federation Square is under “imminent threat from approved works to facilitate the Metro Tunnel at the CBD south precinct that may detrimentally affect its cultural heritage significance”.
City of Melbourne heritage portfolio chair Cr Rohan Leppert said the public backlash to the proposed Apple store proved Federation Square “is a site of state significance”. He said he was glad that Heritage Victoria was taking the proposal to permanently protect Federation Square seriously.
“Heritage Victoria’s decision to apply an IPO formalises these public heritage values and is very welcome, as is the exceptional leadership of the National Trust,” he said.
Apple and the state government want to demolish Federation Square’s Yarra building to make way for a tech store.
Tourism and major events minister John Eren said on Thursday that his position on the fledgling heritage status of Federation Square had not changed since Heritage Victoria began assessing it in late July.
“It would be unprecedented to heritage list a site that is only 16 years old, and to do so could lead to significant implications for future projects,” Mr Eren said in a statement.
“This will not stop us delivering the Metro Tunnel and other vital projects that are good for Melbourne and good for jobs.”
The “refined” design, submitted to Planning Minister Richard Wynne in July, includes a glass rectangular structure, which resembles a floating iPad. The new roof design of the building will allow for solar power.
Melbourne City Council received some 800 complaints about the original design and voted to force Apple to re-draw the plans.
Melburnians were angered when the plans were initially and unexpectedly announced in late 2017.
A station called Town Hall is set to be built on the corner of Federation Square and will stretch underground along Swanston Street. Construction was to have begun this year.
Nominations for heritage listings go through a thorough assessment process, which includes community consultation.
If the heritage listing is successful and Federation Square becomes protected, future developments would require assessment and permission from Heritage Victoria.
Another interesting Heritage battle is continuing in Armadale. The suburb is being targeted by Developers keen on using the large blocks ‘available’ for building apartment complexes. It isn’t going to stop until Richard Wynne, the Planning Minister, steps into the fray.
The first dwelling under threat is already being slowly dismantled for its building materials. Located at 33-35 Huntingtower Rd it is one of Armadale’s oldest and most expensive homes. built in 1909 ‘Offerton’ was sold ‘off market’ in October 2017 for $10.8 million! This was the fourth highest reported residential price ever in the suburb.
Houses such as this are difficult to achieve Heritage listing for. Individually such homes will not be granted interim protection. The intelligent move is to try and ensure a heritage overlay for the entire block or a large section of the suburb.
This home is Federation style and the only of its kind in the street, one of the few in the entire suburb. Stonnington Council accepted the report of a ‘heritage consultant’. The consultant dismissed the call for a listing on the basis that the property was simply not a good enough example of Federation style.
Currently the demolition company is carefully removing the hand made and crafted features of the home for further resale.
Stonnington Council permitted the demolition to proceed last October – 9 days prior to it being sold as earlier stated for $10.8M.
A building permit for the knock down was then issued by a private building surveyor in March.
He said as the council had 15 business days to consider a proposed demolition, there was no opportunity for public consultation.
No plans have been lodged with council for a replacement building.
The resident said she understood the new owner was a developer who planned to replace the house with high-end townhouses.
The resident said she and fellow Armadale locals didn’t become aware of the knock down until the work had begun.
“People don’t want this place pulled down because it’s irreplaceable,” she said.
“It’s one of very few in the suburb — Armadale is made up of worker’s cottages and modest Victorians.
“Melbourne is changing so fast, and there’s no community involvement.”
Also, in Armadale a home built in the 1880s at 34 Armadale St Armadale is now facing the wreckers hammers. It will also make way for apartments. A demolition permit has been issued. Valued at $6 million, local residents believe the building to be ‘of architectural significance’. Unfortunately no-one thought to apply for a heritage listing and this beautiful building will almost certainly be demolished.
Gracious period detail adorns the home including soaring ceilings, magnificent open fireplaces and tessellated tiled return verandah.
With substantial grounds, a tennis court and landscaping by John Patrick, this is a beautiful property.
The real problem is that such purchases and demolitions are simply not made public until the bulldozers are doing their job. Armadale is a beautiful suburb, but the likelihood is that in 20 years it will have experienced the same level of development and high per metre occupancy rates as nearby North Caulfield and East St Kilda.
The cautionary tale is to observe what is in fact unique, of historical and architectural merit in your suburbs and take action through both your local council and bodies such as the National Trust and the Heritage Council of Victoria to protect our older suburbs.
It takes an active and vigilant population to ensure we do not further diminish the wonderful heritage we currently enjoy in such locations. Don’t assume, check. once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.