Over the last year there has been a significant increase in the sale of rural and regional city properties. This has seemingly been in response to the COVID situation whereby many people have felt the need to re-assess their living situation and move to a more relaxed, more comfortable home in places such as Geelong, Ballarat, the region of Gippsland and the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas.
Often the properties purchased enjoy a heritage overlay or a singular heritage listing. Beautiful Victorian terraces, villas and older Georgian style homes offer a whole raft of new and quite difficult impediments to developing a modern living space yet still maintain the period charm and heritage features of some of these wonderful old homes.
There are eclectic purchases that include old churches, former hotels, corner stores and even schools. Locales stretch from central Victoria – Castlemaine, Daylesford, Kyneton, Bendigo, Ballarat and Maryborough through to the Murray Valley, the high country around Bright, Mansfield and Beechworth.
Homes constructed during the late nineteenth century through to the early 1930s often present with unique issues. Electricals, plumbing, lighting and foundations nearly always need assessment and often replacement and renewal.
It is not unusual for such heritage listed properties to have suffered unkind modifications over the years – the removal of or bricking up of fire places and chimneys, tiling, ornate plaster mouldings, fragile stained glass and wrought iron features on verandahs such as lacework, pillars and ornamental features.
To renovate these types of properties can be immensely rewarding and satisfying but it is entirely prudent to arrange for a heritage report from a qualified and experienced Heritage Architect. Andrew Fedorowicz is such an Architect and as the Principal Architect for Balance Architecture Andrew has managed hundreds of such projects from initial assessment through design and planning to completion and lock up stage, supervising the contracted builders to assure complete compliance to both the restoration and design intended as well as ensuring compliance to the heritage listing or heritage overlay requirements.
It’s everyone’s desire to create a comfortable and liveable space, a home that is fitted with modern standards and a vision of space and light. It is possible to achieve true heritage compliance and beauty that is a highly desirable, comfortable residence.
Call Balance Architecture now on 0418 341 443 to arrange an obligation free consultation at a time that is convenient to your schedule. Alternatively leave your details here for a prompt reply.
Vision, Experience and a True Respect for Heritage and its Value – Balance Architecture.
Heritage – the pathway from our past ensuring a rich rewarding and fulfilling future.
The CBD of Melbourne is short on one thing – space. There is a continual battle to achieve useable space by developers, the reason is simple – you can only go up! Going up means one thing – profitability. In this case we are not speaking of a moderate profit, we are looking at mega profits. Now we get to the latest conflict in the CBD – the dispute over the Heritage listed Shell building on the corner of Flinders Street and Spring Street designed by the late Harry Seidler, the famed modernist Architect. The space in question is the two sections of the Shell Plaza opening onto Flinders Lane and Spring Street. The Shell Building and its Plaza are heritage listed. Note it’s not just the Shell Building itself but the adjoining Plaza is also included. The Plaza is an integral part of the overall design and, as such, is covered by the heritage citation of 2017.
For your interest here is a recent article Clay Lucas published in The Age April 5, 2021.
Plonked on a plaza: Skyscraper plan puts spotlight on heritage laws
Marcel Mihulka and his family chose to live near Shell House – the skyscraper on the corner of Flinders and Spring streets – in part because of the heritage listing stopping redevelopment of one of Melbourne’s most decorated pieces of architecture.
The tower’s owners, the Besen and Roth families, want to dig up its rear plaza in Flinders Lane and build a 33-storey tower, standing apart from Shell House but linked via a sky bridge at the 15th level.
“If they can do that to this building, what’s next? Why have heritage laws if they can just plonk this tower here?” said Mr Mihulka, whose property is not overly affected by the plan but who is angered by what he sees as its brazen nature.
Ultimately, Planning Minister Richard Wynne, whose office for a time was in the tower, could decide on the plan.
Two integral parts of Shell House’s design, according to its 2017 heritage citation, are the larger Spring Street plaza and a smaller one in Flinders Lane, about 1200 square metres in size.
The plazas were designed to complement the tower, completed in 1989 by the Shell company. Seen from above, the skyscraper is the shape of a nautilus shell.
In 1994 Shell sold the tower for $135 million to its current owners, the Roth family from Sydney, and a Melbourne company with Daniel Besen among its directors.
The group wants to replace the Flinders Lane plaza, referred to in one of the company’s submissions as “underdeveloped land”, with a tower they argue will complement Shell House.
Shell House is Melbourne’s only tower designed by Seidler, a controversial pioneer of modernism in Australia and one of the country’s most influential architects. It won both state and national architecture awards.
The plan for the rear plaza of his Melbourne tower has been supported by Seidler’s firm, now led by his wife, architect Penelope Evatt Seidler. The firm worked on recent renovations to Shell House.
Also in support is architectural historian Philip Goad, from Melbourne University, a leading modernism expert.
In a submission to Heritage Victoria, he argues the larger Spring and Flinders streets plaza is unaffected by the plan, and a new building on the Flinders Lane plaza would be sympathetic to both Shell House’s heritage and another building on the site, the art nouveau Milton House. It was built in 1901. The new tower would project over Milton House.
Other experts, though, have questioned the plan.
Another Melbourne University architecture academic, Rory Hyde, said while the proposed new tower was respectful and “seems to be of high quality and considered”, the entire site was heritage listed, not just the Shell House tower.
Professor Hyde argues the plaza should not be built over.
“We need more of these public spaces, not fewer,” he said.
The National Trust has submitted a strong objection, with Victorian chief executive Simon Ambrose saying the proposed tower will “completely undermine” the integrity of Seidler’s original design.
“The approval of this proposal would set a dangerous precedent for all places provided with the highest level of heritage protection in our state,” Mr Ambrose says.
The building is almost entirely leased to government departments, including the Department of Transport, Public Transport Victoria, the Taxi Service Commission and VicRoads.
Its owners spend $1.3 million a year “maintaining and conserving” the tower and Milton House.
Heritage consultant Rohan Storey made a submission opposing the plan on behalf of lobby group Melbourne Heritage Action. He says the tower is a fantastic example of a free-standing Seidler tower.
“Modernist towers tended to be free-standing and surrounded by open space,” he said, adding the tower’s plaza’s were “landscaped with materials that are Seidler signatures; it’s not just a plaza, it’s a Seidler plaza”.
Melbourne City councillor Rohan Leppert, chair of the city’s heritage committee, says the proposal could not be approved by Mr Wynne even if heritage authorities allow it to proceed. “The lack of setbacks render the proposal prohibited under the Melbourne Planning Scheme,” he said.
If Heritage Victoria approves the plan it will go to the Planning Minister, Mr Wynne, for approval. His spokeswoman said the application was only now being assessed by the heritage body.
Harry Seidler in his own words
The late Harry Seidler talks about his career. From a 2004 documentary, with footage and images of his buildings as they stand today.
Mr Mihulka says Shell House is “a great example of modernist architecture and one Melburnians are rightly proud of”. He says the new tower, designed by architects Ingenhoven and Architectus, “looks world class – but [Shell House] is heritage-listed for a reason”.
The skyscraper’s owners argue the project should be allowed to proceed because it will improve pedestrian access through the city block. “If they want to improve pedestrian flow, you can do that without a tower,” said Mr Mihulka.
Also to clarify the matter further here is the Statement of Significance from the Victorian Heritage database.
Statement of Significance
What is significant?
1 Spring Street, Melbourne comprising an office tower and northern podium, main foyer with Arthur Boyd mural ‘Bathers and Pulpit Rock’ and external plazas including a large external plaza at the Spring Street corner containing the Charles O Perry sculpture ‘Shell Mace’. The building was originally known as Shell House, and is referred to as such below.
Shell House was the third headquarters building erected for the Shell Company of Australia Ltd in Melbourne. Constructed in 1985-89, the building replaced earlier headquarters constructed in 1933 and 1958 and was occupied by Shell until 2003-2004. The company commissioned the highly regarded commercial architect and leading Australian modernist, Harry Seidler, to design Shell House. Seidler was trained by Modernist architects in the United States before arriving in Australia in 1948 and throughout his career his work continued to display the ideals of this movement. This included the use of basic geometric shapes, sculptural and simple form, visual expression of structure and generous civic spaces. Seidler continued to explore skyscraper design from the 1960s to the 1990s, producing a series of office buildings in Australia and overseas. Shell House is the only example of these built in Victoria. Shell House won a number of awards including the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Victoria Merit Award in 1991 and the National RAIA Award in the same year.
Located on a sloping L-shaped site at the south-eastern corner of the Melbourne city grid, Shell House is a late twentieth century International style office tower with side podium, basement carpark and external plazas. The building is a concrete structure with granite-faced lower facades and a repetitive floor construction system of clear span beams of equal length. With an interest in geometry, simplicity of form and clear expression of structure, Harry Seidler designed the building using two counterpoint curved sections to maximise views to the south and east, to accommodate existing underground railway tunnels and to present a commanding entry point to the city. The core of the building, containing lifts and amenities, is located on the off-view north side and the office floors wrap around this core.
The building integrates dramatic level changes for public access from the south, south east and north through a central control point located in the main Spring Street foyer. This foyer is accessed via stairs from Flinders Street or directly from the primary external entry plaza at the corner of Flinders and Spring Streets. The main entry plaza contains a dominant structural and sculptural building pier and a specially commissioned sculpture, ‘Shell Mace’ by American sculptor and architect, Charles O Perry (1989). The foyer has soaring ceilings, with a mural, ‘Bathers and Pulpit Rock’ by Arthur Boyd (1988) and sets of escalators which lead to the mezzanine and conference centre level. The conference centre provides access to meeting rooms arranged around a circular light well, an auditorium and a narrow secondary pedestrian plaza entry from Flinders Lane. The mezzanine level provides access to a former cafeteria space, with built in seating arranged around the base of the light well, a servery and adjoining commercial kitchen.
The office tower uses a repetitive floor construction system of clear span beams of equal length, resulting in a uniform 15 metre wide column-free space from the services core to the external windows. This, along with the concealment of computer cabling and electrical wiring under a 250 mm access floor, creates an interior aesthetic which is open, light and spacious. All office floors have expansive views to the south and east of the city. The top two floors of the office tower contain an executive suite with external terrace garden, garden court and spiral granite staircase between levels. A variety of quality finishes have been used throughout the building for paving, floor and wall cladding, including Italian granite and travertine, and much of this has been retained.
Some changes have been made to the office floor configurations and fittings, including the executive suite.
This site is part of the traditional land of the people of the Kulin Nation.How is it significant?
Shell House is of architectural and aesthetic significance to the State of Victoria. It satisfies the following criterion for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register:
Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects.
Importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics.Why is it significant?
Shell House is significant at the State level for the following reasons:
Shell House is architecturally significant as an outstanding example of a late modernist office building in Victoria, designed by one of the style’s most accomplished proponents, the renowned Australian architect, Harry Seidler. Late modernism, as expressed in Shell House is demonstrated principally through sculptural form, use of solid concrete and other massive materials, and a variety of textural finishes. Shell House is also significant for the clarity with which it expresses particular themes and motifs characteristic of Seidler’s work. These include the use of opposing curvilinear forms and the generous planning of public areas, both externally an internally.
Shell House is one of an important series of high rise tower projects designed by Harry Seidler both nationally and internationally from the 1960s to the 1990s, and is the only one located in Victoria. Shell House is of architectural significance for its innovative design response to a difficult site and for its integration of dramatic level changes for public access from surrounding streets through a central lower foyer control point. Shell House won a number of awards including the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Victoria Merit Award in 1991 and the National RAIA Award in the same year. Seidler is considered to be one of the major talents in Australian architectural history who made a substantial contribution to Australian architecture. [Criterion D]
Shell House is aesthetically significant for the sculptural effect created by the interlocking curvilinear form of the building that is reflected in the interior planning. The quality of the interior spaces and their relationship to the extensive outdoor terraces at several levels of the building is of high aesthetic value, both visually and experientially. The location at the south-east corner of the Hoddle Grid is highlighted by elements such as the large tapered pier at the Spring Street/Flinders Street entrance.
The aesthetic qualities of the place are enhanced by the incorporation of large scale artworks which complement the architecture and were selected by Seidler for the building. Significant pieces include the foyer mural ‘Bathers and Pulpit Rock’ by Arthur Boyd (1988) and the external plaza sculpture ‘Shell Mace’ by Charles O Perry (1989). [Criterion E]
The ability to appreciate the relevant aesthetic characteristics is enhanced by the high degree of intactness and integrity of the Place, both internally and externally.
Let’s get to the nub of the problem. Developers are prepared to take great financial risks to overcome heritage listing and overlays. The Corkman Cowboys stood to make a huge profit on the twelve-storey apartment block they proposed to build. The promoters of the Metro Nightclub development which saw irreplaceable decorative mouldings and a Melbourne icon destroyed were motivated purely by profit. In the case of many such CBD developments the aim to create apartment complexes is at odds with the current glut of unoccupied apartment buildings within the area. But development is often a long term strategy so when the market turns? – it’s profit all the way.
It comes down to what we value as a community and as a society. Do we want to become another Shanghai or Kowloon with not a millimetre of open space available for recreation, for trees, for greenery?
Why is this happening? Quite simply it’s made possible by the impotence of the current heritage system. Heritage Victoria is somewhat underfunded by the Victorian government and complicating this is its reliance on local government maintaining both local heritage overlays and to some extent policing heritage laws. In a number of municipal areas it would seem the preference would be for increased rates and planning fees from developers. There is little public understanding of what heritage values are and why there is a value placed on heritage. Only a few weeks ago on the Balance Facebook page we have had comments from people decrying the Eastern Freeway heritage listing and more recently the difficulty of owning heritage properties in Brunswick.
There is little or no knowledge of the heritage grants available in various locations and little appreciation of some of the magnificent architecture that has been and is still retained via the Heritage system.
Now is the time for genuine action and response. We feel for the Besen and Roth families and their dire need for more profit, but frankly, we would like to see a plan brought forward to bring the Shell Plazas to life for public usage. The last thing Melbourne’s CBD needs is another multi storey tower adjacent to parklands. It really is time for a heritage summit, bringing together local government, State government, the National Trust, Heritage Victoria and the Heritage Council of Victoria as well as developers and property owners. There must be an acknowledged and accepted recognition of what heritage values are and why heritage preservation is so very important. In the UK heritage protection is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This funding is substantial and guarantees heritage action where and when required.
We would like to see some of Britain’s laws on heritage introduced here. For instance, if you demolish a heritage building in Britain you are forced to rebuild it to the exact specifications of the original building and, at the same time, suffer heavy fines for having demolished the building.
In Australia, it seems that heritage listing is seen as a challenge (to overcome) by developers and their advisors.
Well, no more – heritage is who we are, where we have come from and what we hold in true high esteem. It’s time for a change. Right about NOW
For many people heritage protection of both buildings, precincts and open space is somewhat confusing. In real terms the cultural basis of our living city Melbourne and regional cities, our rural areas, our history is integrally bound up in our treasured heritage buildings and precincts. For Indigenous people, our First Nation’s people, heritage values are of vital importance in terms of their connection to country, their history, their culture and their beliefs.
Heritage values are imperative in our understanding of our current circumstances and urban development, and the influence the past has had in formulating those values. Last week one of our readers commented that heritage is not just about the grandeur of older buildings, the mansions and estates, the public buildings such as town halls, the railway stations and other old world edifices, such as mechanics institutes, masonic halls, churches and the like. Her view was that heritage has a much broader impact and foundation and she’s quite correct. For instance, many inner city suburbs – Carlton, Fitzroy, South Melbourne, Albert Park and Clifton Hill – for example, have complete suburb wide heritage overlays that protect large swathes of early residential housing, streetscapes, parks and public buildings as well as historical places of interest. Today it is the responsibility of the Heritage Council of Victoria, established in 1995, to maintain the Victorian heritage database. It is overseen and advised by Heritage Victoria, a division of the Victorian government planning department, as to what places and objects deserve protection and conservation in having State level heritage. This authority was formalised by the Heritage Act of 2017 in the Victorian State Parliament. The area that is somewhat less clear and not as effectively protected is what is described as “local level heritage”.
From the Heritage Victoria website:
“Local-level heritage – The protection of places of local heritage significance is the responsibility of Victoria’s 79 local councils (councils). The Planning and Environment Act 1987obliges all of Victoria’s councils to use their Planning Schemes to conserve and enhance buildings, areas or other places which are of significance within their municipalities. Planning Schemes set out objectives, policies and controls for the use, development and protection of land within a municipality. Councils are responsible for ensuring their Planning Schemes protect places with local heritage significance through a Heritage Overlay. To introduce a Heritage Overlay for a place or precinct, a Planning Scheme Amendment is prepared by council with the final decision made by the Minister for Planning. There are about 23,000 heritage places listed in Heritage Overlays in local government planning schemes. These places can include buildings, structures, farmhouses, gardens, mining and industrial sites, residential precincts and historic town centres, as well as many other types of heritage places of importance to local communities. Altogether, upwards of 180,000 properties in Victoria are included in heritage overlays. Tens of thousands of these properties include Victorian, Edwardian and other early twentieth century buildings, many in heritage precincts. There are about 23,000 heritage places listed in Heritage Overlays in local government planning schemes. Councils are responsible for conducting heritage studies, investigating the merits of listing places in their Heritage Overlays and consulting with their communities. If a Heritage Overlay does not apply to a place or precinct, and a council considers that it is worthy of protection, it is able to request the Minister for Planning to apply an Interim Heritage Overlay. This introduces a temporary heritage overlay to a place while it is being assessed by council for local heritage significance. A request for an Interim Heritage Overlay may be prompted by a demolition request or planning application for redevelopment received by a council. Councils have a safety-net under the Building Act 1993to prevent demolition of important buildings that have, for whatever reason, not yet been provided with protection until an assessment is made of their potential importance. The Building Act requires a report and consent of council for a building permit for the major demolition of a building on land within its municipality. This provides the council with an opportunity to advise of the need for a planning permit or an opportunity to seek an Interim Heritage Overlay if one is considered warranted.”
Original facade of building above and changes made subsequently below illustrate how the original architectural style can be lost.
To reiterate there are three levels of heritage protection activity in the State of Victoria. The majority of heritage buildings, architecture and places in Victoria fall under the protection of the State’s 79 local councils. In our opinion the protection offered in many cases is manifestly ineffective and, as such, is open to manipulation by unscrupulous builders and developers.It is plainly evident that some local government authorities value increased income through strata title property rates collection over properly enforced heritage protection; with many heritage overlays being hopelessly outdated and inadequate. For heritage protection to work the requirement for there needs to be a clear understanding of which body is expected to provide and enforce such protection. Where the responsibility is that of local government authorities they have often failed. In recent times there has been a plethora of unnecessary demolitions and outright destruction of heritage buildings and streetscapes. This has simply confirmed the inadequacy of current legislation. Melbourne has grown and expanded substantially since 1995 and in many cases local government has simply not kept pace with registering precincts or buildings for heritage protection
Balance Architecture offer a full Heritage Consultation service for both Heritage property owners and Community groups with significant interest in local heritage. Principal Architect Andrew Fedorowicz is available to meet and confer with interested parties, develop site reports and provide expert appraisal on all Heritage properties, precincts or projects affecting Heritage overlays.
Call now on 0418341443 to speak directly with Andrew or leave your details here for a prompt response.
This will always be the conundrum. Bayside housing with views of Port Phillip Bay to the City and the Mornington Peninsula are prized and sought after. A property currently listed at 407 Beach Rd is priced at $6 million. The current building is rundown and not worthy of preservation. But that means that properties with strong ties to the mid-century modernist movement will also come under immense financial pressure. Bayside City Council has already permitted demolition of a number of such properties over the last few years.
It’s worth taking a look at several such properties. Currently under threat of demolition, 372 Beach Rd. An application has been lodged to knock down the existing building and construct two new buildings. In the building trade this process is known as ‘Dual Occupancy’ and it has been used effectively on less valuable standard housing ‘inland’ from the coastal strip and its more interesting modernist architect designed homes.
Here is a report from the Herald Sun dated 1.11.19 on No. 372…
Beaumaris mid-century homes: New fight to save modernist pad
372 Beach Rd, Beaumaris could be replaced by two new homes.
372 Beach Rd, Beaumaris could be replaced by two new homes.
Beaumaris architecture enthusiasts are again going in to battle to save a historic Beach Rd mid-century home that has been at ongoing risk of demolition.
An application to build two new dwellings at No. 372 of the iconic Melbourne stretch lodged with Bayside City Council is open to objections until Monday, November 4.
Council will then consider the application including community objections.
The proposed new development would replace the two-storey modernist house designed by Arthur Russell and require “road access, removal of vegetation, (and) construction of front fence exceeding maximum height”, according to the planning application with council.
Bayside beauty from the street.
Beaumaris Modern successfully fought alongside the local community against previous plans for developing the site by the same owner earlier this year, which the council rejected.
The group’s vice president Annie Price said the new challenge was “about the fifth time” the property with “a lot of architectural merit and historical value” had been at risk.
“Unfortunately, you can’t object to council on that basis. It’s null and void because there’s no heritage protection on the house.” she said.
“It’s very special. It’s been designed in an unusual kite shape to best work with the block and capture the best ocean views.
“Unfortunately, it’s been neglected but it’s just in need of a bit of tender loving care to bring it back.”
Fiona Austin from Beaumaris Modern with the house.
Ms Price said the council had ditched a proposed study to identify the most significant post-war homes in favour of voluntary submissions by owners of individual properties.
“All these incredible young architects like (Robin) Boyd, Arthur Russell and Peter McIntyre flocked here in the 1960s to experiment with new designs, and created all these wild and wonderful mid-century homes,” she said.
“There was so much optimism that led to these unique, beautiful, individualistic houses.
“We still have some special homes hidden behind the tea trees here, but we’ve lost some really significant ones and The Abrahams House has been at risk so many times; I just can’t see why council can’t do something to save it.”
Bayside City Council director city planning and amenity Dr Hamish Reid said the detailed study on mid-century modern heritage was proposed by the council last year but abandoned following “significant opposition from property owners”.
“The voluntary inclusion process seeks to strike a balance between the protection of significant heritage buildings and opposition from property owners,” he said.
“Council wrote to 6500 property owners in late 2018 inviting them to nominate their properties. 372 Beach Road was not nominated.”
No. 372 was covered by a vegetation overlay that required a permit for the removal of native vegetation and zoned neighbourhood residential — allowing for multi dwellings on a single block with a maximum height limit of two storeys, Mr Reid said.
“The property was previously identified as having potential heritage significance however a detailed heritage study has not been done,” he said.
It’s one of the last mid-century modern homes left on Beach Rd.
The 1960 property at 372 Beach Rd was on the market for some time this year for $2.4-$2.5 million, having last sold for $2.2 million in 2015, according to CoreLogic.
Beaumaris Modern’s website states “The Abrahams House” is “one of very few original mid-century homes left on Beach Rd”.
The group has listed information on objecting to the planning permit on its Facebook and Instagram pages.
Ms Price said MCM homes were designed for the local climate and landscape and it would be “madness” to pull one down to replace it with two homes squeezed onto a block.
These properties designed by the modernist architects of the 1950s provide a difficult dilemma. At this stage, none of these modernist dwellings have heritage listing. NB. we have since been advised by Beaumaris Modern that the following properties do enjoy Heritage Protection – The Grant House, 14 Pasedena Ave Beaumaris, the Godsell House, Balcombe Rd, Beaumaris and the Johnson House, 451 Beach Rd Beaumaris. It is the responsibility of Bayside Council (in this instance) to maintain a database of heritage listed homes/dwellings.buildings and locations within its boundaries and to ensure the list is then included on the Heritage Council of Victoria’s database. If the Heritage Council is not approached to list a property by Council in the first instance, it will not be inspected or listed. Residents groups can apply for heritage listing and status, but with demolition permits under consideration, it is 11th hour stuff and invariably the demolition proceeds. In simple terms a property with a higher value returns higher rates. The works of Robin Boyd and his contemporaries must be acknowledged and protected where necessary. And it is possible to refresh these properties and achieve excellent financial returns.
Consider this property at 14 Cromer St Beaumaris (owned by a well known hospitality entrepreneur). It demonstrates what can actually be achieved with these homes. If the property were located beachside there is no doubt you could add several more million to its price tag thus ensuring any investment is covered.
From realestate.com.au and the Herald Sun 1.11.19…
Arbory Afloat creative lists Beaumaris mid-century home
14 Cromer St, Beaumaris is making waves on the market.
Arbory Afloat has rapidly cemented itself as one of Melbourne’s coolest drinking spots, and now the stylish modernist pad of one of the minds behind it has got the city talking too.
The mid-century Beaumaris home, updated to offer the best of contemporary comfort, is starring at inspections as it hits the market for sale.
The architect-designed and renovated house at 14 Cromer Rd has been listed for $2.1-$2.3 million and was among the popular properties with doors ajar for ‘Beaumaris Modern OPEN’.
Pool or beach? The choice is yours.
Stone and timber features give the contemporary home original mid-century character.
Natural light flows through walls of windows throughout the floorplan.
The vendor, who did not wish to be named, is one of the creative forces behind the Yarra River’s floating pontoon bar and commissioned the transformation of their home.
Marshall White Bayside agent Matthew Pillios said the “absolute beauty” attracted 42 groups through its first sales campaign inspection before another 500 went through for the open-home event.
“It’s a very Palm Springs, LA type of home,” he told Property Confidential.
“You’ve got probably 270 degrees of light and vision taking in the gardens; it’s a corner block, single level, architect-designed, high ceilings, loads of windows – very rock star”.
Local modernist architecture aficionados Beaumaris Modern, who run the ticketed ‘Beaumaris Open’ event showcasing some of the Bayside suburb’s celebrated mid-century architecture, posted that the stylish home had “many visitors on Sunday wishing it was their home”.
Arbory Afloat has quickly become a Melbourne favourite.
Jadae Bischof and Charley Aitchison enjoy a spritz.
“The owners are now selling after many years renovating and landscaping,” they wrote.
“The original house was designed by architect Kevin Knight in 1953 and the recent renovation designed by architect Matt Green.
“The house has been sensitively renovated and is a fine example of why its often better to renovate and restore a MCM house than build new.”
Soak it in.
The four-bedroom house is marketed as having a Japan-inspired internal garden alongside feature timber panelling, stone fireplace and soaring ceilings “just minutes from the beach”.
It’s scheduled for auction November 16.
CoreLogic records show the property last sold for $880,000 in 2009.
In March this year, the Bayside City Council nominated only four homes for Heritage assessment. Frankly, that was almost unbelievable and left many within the Beaumaris community group _ Beaumaris Modern – somewhat angry and upset. Private home-owners had at that stage initiated a number of heritage submissions themselves. It can be a confusing and complex application process, somewhat daunting and discouraging for any private individuals. According to the Beaumaris Modern group, Council representatives were lacking in information, somewhat uninformed and singularly discouraging of the process.
NB. Beaumaris Modern has contacted us over the weekend and made the following comment “Bayside Council hadn’t nominated any homes in March. It is only just of this week that they are putting forward 9 private homes and 7 council owned properties to the Planning Minister for heritage assessment following their voluntary heritage nomination process closing date. 14 private homes were nominated but 6 (including my own home) were rejected. And there is a very contentious issue with the Beaumaris Art Group Building (designed by Charles Bricknell) that has NOT been put to the planning minister despite Council’s own commissioned heritage consultants recommending it. We are currently fighting Council on this matter.”
Jamie Paterson, the group’s Treasurer, believes there are upwards of 300 homes warranting assessment in Beaumaris and Black Rock.
Balance Architecture is available to assist any homeowner or property owner wishing to avail themselves of Heritage assessment and possible listing. Under the Council’s approach, very few properties have been nominated. With the young Architects like Robin Boyd, Kevin Knight, Arthur Russell and Pete McIntyre creating a unique enclave of homes specifically designed and constructed for Australian conditions, the area is well worthy of preservation.
Council walk a fine line. The ratio of 4 from 300 is not good, but as Dr Hamish Reid of Bayside City Council said when asked recently “Council wrote to 6500 property owners in late 2018 inviting them to nominate their properties. 372 Beach Rd was not nominated.” It’s obvious that some property owners have other intentions and this is where a heritage overlay can ensure the ongoing preservation of unique and irreplaceable architecture. That is a Council responsibility and Dr Hamish Reid is the Bayside Council’s Director of City Planning and Amenity so it is within his province to act.
It is a major dilemma and a perfect example of the head-on clash between Heritage protection and property development. Hopefully with publicity and appropriate process, it’s not too late to save this unique enclave of Australian creativity and ingenuity.
Footnote: We have recently had communications from the Beaumaris Modern Group regarding various reported facts we accepted from both local and mainstream press.
It would appear that Bayside Council is not assisting in preservation of these buildings to the extent it could be.
We will provide updates on this ongoing strategy to protect the Modernist buildings of Black Rock and Beaumaris.
Unfortunately, this is getting to be a recurring theme. The current legislation permits builders and developers holding an existing building permit to demolish properties with interim Heritage orders. The legislation being utilised is a State Government amendment to its planning scheme specific to Booroondara – Amendment C299.
Booroondara provides the setting for the perfect storm. Large blocks, older homes and developers with deep pockets. The situation is simple, Booroondara Council’s Planning Department has previously issued Demolition permits on older homes – all over 100 years old – in particular this one at 368 Auburn Rd which was 130 years old. The home demolished is directly opposite Currajong House, which was saved by Government intervention by Minister Wynne in May this year. Currajong House is 135 years old. Booroondara applied a Heritage Overlay application to stall demolition but in reality unless it can rescind its demolition permits (which without great expense it can’t), then the only avenue to protect such homes now covered by interim Heritage protection was for the Minister and his department to intervene.
From the outside, there would appear to be some shortfalls in action by the Booroondara Council. Surely being aware of the demolition permits issued against Heritage properties with interim protection, there needs to be a co-operative response with both Council and the State Government Planning Department, the Minister and the full Council Chamber or Booroondara working together to protect these beautiful and historic homes.
Tim Smith the Member for Kew is the Shadow Minister for Planning. Booroondara is in fact located within very safe Liberal Party seats, and the Council is very much cast in the same mould. Time to stop politicking and get down to preserving the rich heritage of the area. These homes are irreplaceable and form a very rich and visible link to our past. It is a tragedy to see them being demolished to build nondescript blocks of apartments.
As we have stated here over and over, it is high time that the State Government, Local Government, the Victorian Heritage Council, the National Trust and other legitimately qualified parties get together and create a Heritage plan based on today’s values, not those of the 1970s, ‘80s or ‘90s. So much is now gone. Let’s protect what remains for posterity and the fabric of our city and State.
Here is a report from the Age dated September 1st 2019…
‘Irrevocably wrecked’: Fury as another old house razed
A “bizarre’’ loophole created by the state government in a local council’s planning scheme is being blamed for the demolition of a Victorian-era house in Hawthorn.
The 130-year-old brick house was razed last week to make way for 14 apartments, despite being the subject of an interim heritage order.
The City of Boroondara, the National Trust and locals now say they fear the destruction of other heritage buildings under an amendment introduced by the state in 2018.
A bulldozer moves in on 368 Auburn Road, Hawthorn, on Friday
Amendment C299 allows property owners with an existing building permit to demolish buildings, despite interim heritage orders.
The City of Boroondara says it is the only council to have the amendment.
The controversial amendment is now at the centre of a stoush over who is responsible for reducing a building of heritage value to a pile of rubble.
Opponents say the state’s amendment – and its subsequent failure to intervene in the demolition – enabled the destruction of the double-fronted brick house at 368 Auburn Road.
But the state government argued that councils were responsible for heritage and it was the City of Boroondara that issued the home’s owner with a demolition permit in July 2018.
The state claims that following local outcry, the council then put a heritage overlay on the property in April this year, knowing that it would be trumped by the demolition permit.
“If the council was serious about protecting this house, it would not have issued a demolition permit to knock it down last year,” Planning Minister Richard Wynne said.
The National Trust called on the state government to close what it termed a “bizarre’’ loophole in the Boroondara planning scheme that it said allowed protected places to be demolished.
National Trust CEO Simon Ambrose said homes granted interim heritage protection, which meant they were being considered for permanent protection, could be bulldozed if a demolition permit had been obtained before temporary protection was granted.
“Unless this loophole is closed, more houses will be lost,”’ he said.
No. 368 shortly before its demolition.
The City of Boroondara said that due to the amendment, its hands were tied to prevent the demolition.
The council said in a statement that it also meant other houses in the precinct were at risk.
It said it was disappointed with the minister’s “lack of action to preserve heritage in the City of Boroondara”.
“The impact of this exemption cannot be understated as evidenced by [Friday’s] destruction of an identified heritage home,” it said.
In May, Mr Wynne intervened to stop demolition of 135-year-old Currajong House, across the road from 368 Auburn Road.
The state government said the council didn’t inform it about number 368’s impending demolition until bulldozers were moving on the house on Friday.
“The council has had ample opportunity to request state intervention, but instead has sat on its hands until bulldozers are out the front,” Mr Wynne said.
The council said the demolition order had been issued by a private building surveyor and it had campaigned for months to have the amendment removed.
Before the exemption, when an interim heritage overlay was introduced a planning permit would be required for demolition works.
Resident Christopher Blanden said he sent an email in February to the Planning Department, Mr Wynne and local MP John Kennedy, warning that the owner of the 1890s Victorian house had obtained a permit to demolish the building.
The letter called on the state government to revoke its amendment so that the owner couldn’t demolish the house without applying for a council planning permit.
Mr Blanden’s wife, Rose, said she feared “many, many beautiful houses across the whole of Boroondara can be demolished’’ under the amendment.
Mrs Blanden said it was vandalism that the “beautiful’’ house with established trees would be replaced by units she believed would be more suited to the Gold Coast.
Tim Smith, the member for Kew and the shadow minister for planning, said he was appalled as he witnessed the demolition.
“We can’t keep letting houses like that get destroyed, otherwise Melbourne will be irrevocably wrecked forever,” he said.
Mr Smith believes similar demolitions are inevitable “unless the planning amendment C299 is revoked” due to land values in Boroondara “and this government’s bizarre priorities when it comes to heritage”.
“They want to list the Eastern Freeway [for heritage protection], but they wouldn’t give a toss about a 130-year-old property in Hawthorn,” he said.
For opponents to such Heritage Overlays and Listings, they point out that they ‘own the property’ and ‘it’s their right to do what they please’. Under current legislation without a valid Heritage Listing or at least a valid interim Heritage protection order that trumps any demolition permit, they’re correct and there is not a thing anyone can do about it.
The contentious amendment C299 must be revisited to ensure Heritage protection is guaranteed whether in Booroondara or any other municipality. It is a deficiency in both planning policy, State legislation and Local Government building regulations.
Armidale, Kew, Hawthorn, Malvern, Black Rock, Beaumaris, Moonee Ponds, Toorak, Caulfield – the list continues to grow. It’s getting to a critical situation. Demolitions are occurring weekly.
[In the next week we will post Heritage Listing application forms on our website. It does require a good understanding of what is possible, but there are recent cases that demonstrate Community action can be successful, example the Albert Park campaign for No. 1 Victoria Ave.]
1 Victoria Avenue
Time for change. Time for both sides of politics to co-operate and look at the long term future and viability of Heritage Overlays, Listings and values within this State.
Heritage protection is for all now, but where it should really resonate is with future generations – they will surely thank us for our actions now if we can prevail upon the powers that be to act decisively.
“Heritage – protecting the past to enhance the future.”
Completed in 2002, Federation Square is the latest addition to the State’s Heritage Register.
“Federation Square is significant as a notable example of a public square. It is highly intact and its size and design illustrate the principal characteristics of a public square.” – Victorian Heritage Council statement on its decision to list the precinct.
So ends the ‘Apple Store’ debate and some sections of the Victorian Government’s efforts to demolish part of the square. Whilst you ponder the result – congratulations to the Heritage supporters, the National Trust and the City of Melbourne on the outcome – let us now take a wide diversion. We are heading to Central Victoria, to Maldon.
First visited by white colonialists in 1836 as part of Major Thomas Mitchell’s famous Victorian expedition, it was settled soon after by pastoralists who established two sheep runs at the foot of Mt Tarrangower. On one of these sheep runs, Cairn Curran, gold was discovered in 1853. This changed the area forever. The Goldfield was named ‘Tarrangower Fields’ after Mt Tarrangower now simply referred to as Tarrangower.
Maldon the town was officially gazetted by the Victorian Government in 1856. The town’s population fluctuated with the number of miners. In a census taken in 1861 there were 3341 permanent residents and over 5000-6000 miners in the area. Over the years this reduced by half by 1891 with only 1600 permanent inhabitants. Large quantities of quartz reef gold was retrieved in and around Maldon well into the 20th century.
Today, with a stable population of 1000 people, it is an interesting place to visit. In all there are probably 1500 people resident in Maldon and its surrounding district. Maldon was named as Australia’s first notable town in 1966 by the National Trust of Victoria.
Maldon Shire Hall and Offices
Maldon Shire Hall and Offices
“The township displays overall historical and architectural importance, particularly in its gold town buildings. The significance lies in the variety of building styles, and the area of mining is of interest with one mine still open to the public. Maldon boasts that it is largely unchanged since the 1850s and has attracted considerable interest from Tourists for its 19th century atmosphere.”
Maldon has its own newspaper, the Tarrangower Times, first published in 1858 and is the oldest continually published newspaper in Victoria.
It was gold that displaced the original indigenous people of the area, the Wemba Wemba people from their station near Mt Tarrangower in 1849. The immigrant miners were multicultural and included thousands of Chinese miners. Over 200 Chinese graves are still visible in the Maldon Cemetery and there is a special ‘Chinese oven’ where incense was burned in their honour.
Principal Architect for Balance Architecture, Andrew Fedorowicz, has a Maldon residence, Palm House. Andrew is very familiar with the buildings and architecture of the area. Please do not hesitate to contact him to seek assistance in renovation, restoration and heritage listing of your home or property. Andrew is passionate about Heritage architecture and has been engaged on many such projects both in Melbourne and throughout the Victorian Central Highlands – Ballarat, Daylesford, Kyneton, Castlemaine and Bendigo as well as many other smaller centres. Have no hesitation in calling Andrew on 0418 341 443 or leave your details here for a prompt reply [LINK].
There are many historic buildings still functioning and intact in Maldon. The Shire offices were built from the converted bluestone market building (1859) and opened in 1866.
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The courthouse was constructed in 1861 and the post office in 1870.
You can pick up a brochure on the town’s historic buildings at the Information centre, located opposite the Shire’s offices in High St at the Maldon Visitor’s Centre. But! – don’t do it for the two weeks from today – the building is closed for renovations!
For a more contemporary view of Maldon and the attractions of living there, here is a recent article from Domain.
Escape to Maldon, Victoria: ‘There is absolutely not a traffic light’
It’s Australia’s first notable town and a delightfully preserved piece of Gold Rush history. Close to Castlemaine and Bendigo, the scenic town of Maldon is flourishing and attracting artists, the semi-retired, foodies and families.
Population: 1513, as at the 2016 Census.
Who lives here?
Kareen Anchen, the gallery director of Cascade Art, first made the move to the area with her husband around 20 years ago.
“We loved it,” she said. “We’ve always just loved Maldon village.
“Maldon attracts … that sort of foodie,” she said, with residents keen on quality food, quality wine and quality experiences – just a good quality of life, generally.
She has noticed plenty of tree-changers and new families, as well as retirees and the people with small businesses, who could “pick and choose how to run their lives”, who found the town a good place to get away from the rat race.
Rebecca Haack, from Portia & Co on the main street, bought a property two years ago which she now runs as a short-stay accommodation business.
She also opened her store about nine months ago, splitting her time between Melbourne and Maldon, and has met several people in town who have moved there in the past five to 10 years.
“I feel like there’s an established community, as well as new people moving in,” she said. “It feels like a nice balance.”
Ms Haack said Maldon was also drawing “pre-retirees” – people still working part-time and commuting to Melbourne, or working from home.
“Whatever it is, they’re still working,” she said. “But changing lifestyles, maybe downsizing.”
Valentina Tansley, from Tansley and Co, is also a part-timer, settling on Maldon when looking for a weekender with the plan “eventually morphing into a business venture”.
“Look, I really like it! I think there’s a bit of a perception that it’s full of retirees,” she said. “But there’s young kids too, and there’s great opportunity for multi-generational community stuff.”
What happens here?
The Maldon Folk Festival in November is a huge drawcard, as is the Maldon Twilight Dinner in January. Plenty of people also come out for the Maldon Markets, which sells local products and is held on the second Saturday of every month.
“There are lots of events, all organised by different people,” Ms Haack said. “It is wonderful, because it spreads the load, but it brings a bit of a buzz.”
“There are heaps of events in town,” said Ms Tansley. As soon as the weather warmed up, she said, the events season kicked off – a carols by candlelight in the park, an antiques and collectables fair in February and a massive four-day Easter fair for families like hers to enjoy.
“Getting out of the city and experiencing all these different activities is really rewarding,” she said.
Aside from the bigger shindigs, the Kangaroo Hotel and Maldon Hotel regularly host live music, and the town is also home to active football, netball, golf and bowling clubs.
What’s life like here?
Maldon ticks along as a country town, with the change of seasons clearly delineated – it is somewhere it could actually snow in winter.
Weekdays are bit more leisurely and the weekends busier with tourists, with a crowd arriving on the steam train on Sundays.
“It’s gentle, slow,” said Ms Haack. “During the week, it’s locals or people from the surrounding area, doing their shopping and their banking.
“While it’s a tourist town, it still has its own population, its own heartbeat, whether the tourists are coming or not.”
The heritage buildings give the town a particular, striking charm, and many residents are keen gardeners, creating “that contrast of European gardens against the more rustic bush,” Ms Anchen says.
“It has a fairly intact streetscape in the main street, people really love it. There’ll never be neon flashing lights here. It’s not the city, it’s the country!”
The town also had a strong artistic community, Ms Anchen said, with her gallery and shows attracting plenty of local support.
“There’s so many artists in this region, it’s so rich. Hobby artists and amazing professional artists,” she said. “In that sense we’re a bit spoilt for choice, in terms of who to exhibit.”
What jobs are here?
Long-time local Rob Waller, from Waller Realty, said many of Maldon’s full-time residents worked in health or education, often in the sort of role where they could go into the city for a bit, and work from home for the rest of the time.
“A lot of people will buy a property and do the last five or 10 years of their working career split-living,” he said. “It gives them an opportunity to put their roots down and get a feel for the area.”
Ms Anchen said small businesses really benefited from the tourist trade, with Maldon on the route between Bendigo and Ballarat.
“And also Daylesford,” she added. “They come across for a day trip.”
Visitors were also drawn by the chance to ride in the Victorian Goldfields Rail, a stream train service connecting Castlemaine and Maldon.
While the town is home to Melbourne part-time commuters – it’s a bit too far for a Monday-to-Friday job – the bigger centre of Castlemaine with its food manufacturing industry was only 20 minutes’ drive away, while Bendigo was about a 40-minute trip.
Why should you move here?
“I think it’s that thing of having really old buildings as a beautiful backdrop,” Ms Anchen said. “It’s that bit of a special factor that makes Maldon work.”
Also, she said, people were “very, very, very friendly”, and locals worked together to enrich the town’s social fabric; and it was a well-serviced location.
“It has its own hospital, it has a really fantastic primary school; really fantastic shops and eateries,” she said, noting the town’s French Cafe in particular was going gangbusters.
Mr Waller agreed that the town was great for families and, while the internet connection was good, with the state forests surrounding the town there was plenty of opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.
“And there is absolutely not a traffic light in Maldon,” he added. “It has that slow, village, country lifestyle, and a really good sense of community – that is what people look for in neighbourhoods.”
“I guess for us,” said Ms Tansley, “it was all about the facilities.”
With a supermarket, a couple of pubs, a butcher and a hospital, Maldon is much better catered for than some other small towns.
“It’s a really interesting, historical place,” she said, but added that practically, it was “really great”.
“You can go to the pub, you can see some music, you can buy supplies at the supermarket,” Ms Tansley said.
“You run out of milk, it’s three doors down. It’s a really nice village environment.”
It also felt pretty safe, she said. “It’s a small community, and people do tend to recognise each other.”
Ms Haack said Maldon was a nice distance from Melbourne – close but not too close – with surprisingly blue skies.
“People might think it’s cold, but it’s a beautiful climate,” she said. “There’s this amazing streetscape to wander through, and the location is great.
“It’s a beautiful, established community – and it is a community. I have been made very welcome.”
Towns like Maldon give a living appreciation of real heritage buildings, architecture and our rich and varied past. Country living is far more relaxed, quieter and closer to nature. To really appreciate it at its very best, call Balance Architecture now on 0418 341 443 and ensure you gain the very best in both lifestyle and heritage values for your home.
Or simply take a drive out to Maldon, have lunch at one of the hotels, cafés or restaurants then take a train ride on the Steamrail locomotive. It’s simply a beautiful little town.
For many people a Heritage Listing is only applied to historic buildings. In itself this is an interesting concept. What deems a building historic? Times are rapidly changing. Is it now time to protect some of our historical developments in Architecture and Construction?
Right now there is serious discussion occurring at the highest levels of Government in Victoria on the provisional listing of Federation Square by the Heritage Council of Victoria after application was made late last year by the National Trust to preserve the precinct’s integrity.
It goes to the deeper question – what is worth preserving? Melbourne is an ever evolving city with a Metropolitan spread that is now well over 100km in diameter. It features inner city living, semi-rural living, sea-side living and plain old suburbia. Over the last 70-80 years, post World War 2, there have been some truly significant advances in both purposeful design that acknowledges climate and location, as well as some stylistics that are truly Australian in genesis and application.
The ‘Modern’ Architecture of post war Australia was very much a part of the new developments of the 1950s in Bayside Melbourne. Architects such as Robin Boyd, Neil Clerehan and Roy Grounds actively pushed the envelope on new ‘Modern Design’.
It comes down to preserving what is in fact our heritage over time; where such ‘modern’ design (for the 1950s and 1960s) represents a significant shift in Australian Architectural and Design values.
The following article from the ABC gives a solid insight into the issue.
Architecture advocates argue for change to interpretation of heritage buildings
City of Melbourne council has earmarked the Hoyts Mid City building on Bourke St for heritage protection.
City of Melbourne council has earmarked the Hoyts Mid City building on Bourke St for heritage protection.
City of Melbourne council has earmarked the Hoyts Mid City building on Bourke St for heritage protection.
Melbourne’s beautiful Victorian-era buildings are widely appreciated as some of the city’s most valuable assets — but that was not always the case.
Decades ago, debate raged about whether Victorian architecture was worth saving at all.
These days it is Melbourne’s post-war buildings that are in the crosshairs, with homes from the 1950s and ’60s at the centre of a debate around which architectural styles are worthy of protection.
So, is it time for the community’s understanding of what is considered a ‘heritage’ building to evolve?
National Trust Victoria advocacy manager Felicity Watson thinks so.
‘Exciting time of experimentation’
Ms Watson said mid-century modern architecture evolved during a time of significant change in Melbourne, culminating in the hosting of the 1956 Olympic Games which showcased the city to the world.
“In terms of architecture, the post-war period was a really exciting time of experimentation,” she said.
“There were lots of really skilled and significant architects that were practicing.”
She thinks it is time to reshape the way we think about buildings from this era, which are often dismissed as daggy.
Felicity Watson thinks we should be protecting mid-century architecture for future generations
[Photo: Felicity Watson thinks we should be protecting mid-century architecture for future generations]
“We really see this as a turning point in the heritage movement,” she said.
“In the 1970s it was about protecting places of Victorian heritage — which at that time were not always seen as the way that we appreciate them now but were sometimes seen as ugly and undesirable.
“That’s sort of the argument we’re seeing in relation to post-war heritage.”
Ms Watson called on local and state governments to recognise the significance of these homes, but said property owners also had a responsibility to protect them.
“There are certainly views in the community that heritage is an encumbrance on a property,” she said.
“But what we really need to take into account is the benefit to the community and not think about just individuals.”
Beaumaris a haven of mid-century modern
One of the largest concentrations of significant post-war homes can be found in the bright, open-plan, mid-century modern residences of Melbourne’s bayside suburbs.
Local community group Beaumaris Modern has sprung up to spruik the architectural innovation they believe makes these homes worthy of preservation.
The group’s president Fiona Austin said many homes in the area were designed by significant Australian architects.
Ms Austin, an interior designer, said the group’s members were distressed at seeing so many mid-century modern homes demolished; homes that evolved during a time of important architectural innovation.
“People were sick of dark houses that look like something from England,” she said.
“Young architects, after the war, started designing houses that face north, face the garden, had big windows, skillion roofs, flat roofs and you know, enjoyed outside spaces.
“It’s perfect for our climate and still is now.”
Only last week the group fought — but failed — to save a home on Mariemont Avenue in Beaumaris which was designed by architects Chancellor and Patrick in 1962.
The home was originally identified by Bayside City Council as worthy of protection in a 2007 heritage study.
But in 2018, the council abandoned planning scheme amendments to introduce a heritage overlay on this and other mid-century properties, after what they described as strong opposition and community division.
Bayside City Council now plans to introduce a voluntary process for owners to nominate their mid-century homes for possible inclusion in a heritage overlay.
National Trust Victoria has urged them to reconsider, saying conducting their own study could have protected this “significant home”.
In a statement, the council said the permit to demolish the property was issued by a private building surveyor and did not require council approval because it was not covered by heritage controls.
‘Jury still out’ on financial impact of heritage listings
Boroondara Council, in Melbourne’s east, has a large concentration of heritage properties, albeit from a different era.
Councillor Coral Ross said the jury was still out on whether heritage listings drove property prices up or down.
“Our role and our responsibility is to conserve and enhance the area which we live in,” she said.
Fiona Austin founded the community group Beaumaris Modern to foster appreciation of mid-century architecture.
“We have done large surveys which say that our community values the character of the area in which they live and the heritage is something that they really value.
“The reason that people move into an area is because they like the architectural style [and] we certainly have a lot of people that want to live in our area.”
Beaumaris Modern is trying to take matters into their own hands by matching sympathetic house hunters with mid-century modern properties.
Ms Austin said at least one local real estate agent had embraced the niche market.
“He has a database of over 100 people who want to buy a mid-century house in Beaumaris, so he goes to them before they go on the market and often just matches people with their houses,” she said.
Modern additions to Melbourne’s heritage listings
The City of Melbourne has just released an audit of heritage listings across the CBD.
Greens councillor Rohan Leppert described the 2,000-page Hoddle Grid Heritage Review as “the mother of all audits”, unprecedented in scale in Victoria.
The review considered increasing heritage protection for 64 properties and six precincts within the grid — including some from the post-war period.
The City is now seeking permission from the Planning Minister to formally exhibit the Planning Scheme amendment C328, which proposes permanent heritage protection for properties identified in the review.
The Lyceum Club in Ridgway Place may also be heritage-listed by the City of Melbourne.
The Lyceum Club in Ridgway Place may also be heritage-listed by the City of Melbourne.
Cr Leppert said he was surprised many of the buildings had not been granted heritage protection already but said heritage was a “tricky issue”.
“We need to really carefully measure the social heritage of a place, the architectural heritage [and] the scarcity of particular types of buildings,” he said
Cr Leppert said the review had looked at post-war and post-modern buildings including the Hoyts Mid City complex in the Bourke St Mall and the Lyceum Club in Ridgway Place.
“The Hoyts Mid City complex is maybe not what Melburnians typically think of as something worthy of heritage protection but it is quite a remarkable building,” he said.
“The Lyceum Club is not a building that people might necessarily think is a standout piece of architecture.
“But it is something that we think has remarkable social and architectural heritage and is quite unique in the way it came about, so we’re seeking protection for that building as well.”
Cr Leppert said there would always be competing interests between development and heritage protection — especially on the most expensive land in the state.
He hopes the public will embrace mid-century architecture as an important part of the city’s history.
“I think public heritage values do change over time and we’re having a fascinating debate publicly about that at the moment.”
It is probably a very opportune time to have this discussion. Buildings of real significance have disappeared very quickly here in Victoria, leaving only a façade that has no real purpose. Or in the case of the Beaumaris homes – gone forever. It’s time to expand the understanding of Heritage, not just the ‘definition’, and to take some pride in what is and has been a magnificent journey – in under 200 years.
The Victorian Government, the NEW Victorian Government, well ok its the old Victorian Government with a much bigger mandate must be feeling somewhat edgy about its Federation Square plans for a new Apple Store. Its delayed the project for a year. This could be based on a sense of uncertainty or it could be a tactic to wait until the project has less fizz. Either way, the start date, originally timed for the commencement of 2019 has now been pushed back to 2020, with the Apple Store to open in 2021.
Of course there is the little matter of a Heritage Listing in the offing for Federation Square. Heritage Victoria have recommended the location in totality, be included on the Victorian Heritage Register. A decision is expected on finalising the Heritage Listing early next year (2019).
There has been an almighty backlash to the proposal to put an Apple Store into the Square, a public space. The decision to proceed was secretive with planning permits being issued without public consultation or Council approval. The commercialisation of what is essentially a public space has met with solid opposition from the City of Melbourne and a range of interest groups.
See our previous blogs on this Fed Square development:
Originally mooted and proposed by the then Tourism Minister Philip Dalidakis, the project was pushed heavily by the Government and the Federation Square Management team. In it annual report, the Fed Square team pointed out that “there are only 6 Global flagship Apple Stores worldwide with only one located in the Southern Hemisphere.” Federation Square management believed the store would attract an extra 2 million people to Federation Square each year. It pointed out that the Civic and Cultural Charter of Federation Square covered such a development and suggested the project would bring a range of significant benefits to the community.
The two ministers John Eren and Phillip Dalidakis were both not re-appointed upon the re-election of the Andrews Government. The City of Melbourne demanded a significantly different design for the Apple Building before consideration for permits was considered in July this year.
The re-elected Premier Daniel Andrews is standing by the Store.
“Do we really want this thing to go to Sydney with all the jobs and opportunities that go with it? That’s not my position” Mr Andrews told the Age newspaper.
Great PR but at no stage does either the Government, the Federation Square Management team or the Premier himself acknowledge the unique architectural wonder that is Federation Square – a public space designed to host large crowds of people at public events.
It must be considered as a whole and not by its parts. It is a world class facility recognised widely as a masterful design that will stand the test of time – unlike that phone you’re using or the tablet that gets tweeked every two years to get you to purchase another one.
Federation Square must remain intact to fully retain its integrity. Bring on 2020 and the Heritage Listing decision. Some things are just best left as they are.
Heritage listing is much more than acknowledging a structure’s antiquity. Modern buildings from the ‘50s right through until the early years of the new millennium have been accorded Heritage status. And it appears that there are those among us who flaunt these classifications and destroy such buildings purely for profit.
We are all probably aware of the devastating vandalism wrought on Carlton’s Corkman Hotel by two such unscrupulous ‘developers’. Already subject to significant fines, both developers now face further major punitive actions.
Here is a less well known case from the Apple Isle – Tasmania. In Hobart, Mount Stuart has long been a well known and popular suburb. Hobart was first established in 1804 at the mouth of the Derwent River, a year after the establishment of nearby Risdon Cove (on the other side of the Derwent in 1803).
Mount Stuart was originally established in 1836 when the unpopular Governor George Arthur was returned to England aboard the ship Mountstuart Elphingstone. Two roads were named in celebration of the colony ridding itself of the Governor and the reversal of his many unpopular laws at the time. The roads were Elphingstone Rd and Mount Stuart Rd. Mount Stuart Town eventually covered much of West Hobart. It was absorbed into Hobart Town around 1908.
In the 1890s, a rather interesting home was constructed at number 55 Mount Stuart Rd. With breathtaking views across the Derwent it was always a sought after property. By the year 2016, it was somewhat run down but quite able to be tastefully restored. Two trees planted on the 1406 square metre block and the actual building in total carried heritage listing. When the property came up for sale in 2016, the Heritage listing, the restrictions the listing imposed and the detailed report on asbestos contamination were all carefully documented for prospective buyers.
The successful purchaser, a Mr Darko Krajinovic decided to ignore these conditions and restrictions. The result? On a property he purchased for $445,000 he has been fined $225,000. He has also been billed $60,000 for the asbestos clean-up program required after his rather amateurish demolition job. Now, having lost his appeal against the fine imposed he will be subject to further costs as the demolition is completed.
A rather fool-hardy enterprise, one that should have would be cowboy developers in Tasmania rethinking their get rich quick schemes.
You can read about it here…
Mount Stuart house owner fined $225k for demolishing heritage home, creating ‘clouds of asbestos’
A Tasmanian man who deliberately demolished his heritage-listed house has been fined $225,000 and ordered to pay legal costs to the Hobart City Council.
Darko Krajinovic, 32, demolished the Mount Stuart house and outbuildings, which contained asbestos, without a permit.
He also cut down two trees listed as significant to develop four townhouses on the land.
In the Hobart Magistrates Court, he was convicted of nine separate offences and ordered to pay the fine, which is significantly less than the maximum penalty of $353,000.
Magistrate Simon Cooper said Krajinovic displayed “spectacular disregard” for planning laws and the safety of his neighbours when he demolished the house and outbuildings.
“I’m told that clouds of asbestos floated across to neighbouring properties,” he said.
The court heard Krajinovic was visited several times on the day of the demolition by council officers.
The officers and police had been alerted by neighbours that he was cutting down the trees and using an excavator to demolish the outbuildings.
Krajinovic told a neighbour: “I’m sick of everyone around here telling me what to do. It’s my place and I can do what I want.”
Mr Cooper took into account Krajinovic’s early guilty plea but said that the penalty needed to reflect that he had committed a “very serious offence indeed”.
Penalty sends strong warning, council says
The council’s general manager, Nick Heath, said the council was satisfied with the penalty and the case should serve as a “strong warning” and deterrent.
“Mr Krajinovic’s actions in destroying his property and removing heritage-listed trees are unacceptable and were an act of blatant destruction with no regard for the safety of others,” he said.
Darko Krajinovic was convicted of nine separate offences.
“We are aware that this matter caused severe distress to many in the community which is understandable, and one of the reasons why the council vigorously pursued this matter.”
In 2015 the State Government removed the option to ban reckless developers from continuing with any work for 10 years.
Mr Heath said the Council would lobby to have that power reinstated.
“There’s a report that’s been asked for by the council to look at what penalties besides just monetary penalties ought to be imposed on developers,” he said.
“Unfortunately at the moment the way the law is it’s only monetary penalties that are available, but going forward I think we’ll have some strong discussions with the Government to make it even harder on developers who blatantly breach the law around development and demolition in the city.”
In the meantime there is an application before the council to continue the demolition of the house.
Mr Heath said the planning authority would work with Krajinovic to ensure some of the site’s original significance was restored.
Krajinovic’s neighbour Geoff Wylie said he wanted the land cleaned up as soon as possible.
“If there’s not something done shortly, it’s going to become an eyesore. It’s going to become a fire hazard,” he said.
Melbourne has already lost many extraordinary buildings to unscrupulous development. Consider this, in Melbourne CBD there are only 3 buildings that predate 1850. Melbourne was established in 1835.
The 1850s Gold Rush saw a flood of money pour into old Melbourne town, replacing the earlier buildings with some of the grandest buildings in the world at the time. But where are they now? Take a look here at some of what we’ve lost and some of what has replaced those grand and beautiful buildings that have been demolished.
It may just provide some readers with the perspective required to understand heritage listing… Then again, it may not.
Melbourne’s Wonderful Demolished Buildings
THE FINKS BUILDING
276 Flinders Street
When built in 1880, this office block was Melbourne’s tallest at ten stories. In 1897 it, and most of the block of Finders Street that it stood on, was destroyed in a fire, one of the worst the city has seen. Only the facade was left, although the building was considered such an icon that it was rebuilt. In 1967 it was finally demolished outright. Present day, this stands in its spot:
MELBOURNE FISH MARKETS
Flinders St, between King and Spencer Streets
Of all of Melbourne’s vanished buildings, this one is probably the most spectacular. Built in 1890, for more than 50 years this was used as a commercial market for fish and other fresh produce. In the lead up to the Olympic games in 1956 it was decided to demolish a number of Melbourne’s older buildings in order to ‘modernise’ the look of the city. Sadly, incredibly, this was one of the buildings to go, although the demolition was not completed until 1959. It was replaced – sadly! incredibly! – with a carpark… the block now also shared by a nondescript office building:
THE FEDERAL HOTEL AND COFFEE PALACE
555 Collins Street
Built in 1888 to coincide with the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition (marking 100 years of Australian settlement), this was once one of the largest and most opulent hotels in the world. The first two floors housed impressive dining, reading, smoking and billiard rooms, with the remaining 5 stories given over to luxurious guest rooms. The interior was so impressive that the building became a tourist attraction in its own right:
As an added historical footnote, the hotel was also conceived as a ‘Coffee Palace’ as part of the 19th century temperance movement. No alcoholic beverages were served at the hotel when it was built, which was something of a fad at the time, as public drunkenness was perceived as a serious problem. This wonderful piece of architecture and history was demolished in 1973, the site sold for redevelopment. Pleas to have it saved as a heritage building were ignored by the Government of the time (there was no heritage protection legislation as we know it today). It was such a popular local landmark that thousands of people turned out to watch it go. This dreary brown box was built in its place:
THE MENZIES HOTEL
140 William Street
Built in 1867 to accommodate the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh, the Menzies was another of Melbourne’s most impressive luxury hotels. Among the famous guests who stayed there; Sarah Bernhardt, Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain (who helped stoke the hotel boilers as part of his fitness regime), Herbert Hoover and General Douglas Macarthur. In 1969 it was demolished to make way for, the admittedly pretty stylish, BHP Plaza:
WOOL BROKING PREMISES
111 Williams Street
Built in 1891 for the John Sanderson company, this block length building showed exactly how important the agricultural industry was in fledgling Australia. Demolished in 1969 to make way for the AMP Building, which is itself currently under redevelopment:
444 Collins Street
Built in 1860, and substantially remodeled between 1910 and 1914, Scott’s hotel enjoyed a reputation for supplying some of Melbourne’s finest food and wine. Dame Nellie Melba and English cricket legend W.G.Grace were two among many notable people who stayed at the Scott, which was also a favourite haunt for local racing identities. Sold to the Royal Insurance Co in 1961, when it was Melbourne’s oldest continuously operating hotel, the building was demolished to make way for another in a series of drab office blocks (to the right of this picture):
THE ORIENTAL BANK
Corner Queen Street and Flinders Lane
Built in 1856 when the twenty year old city was still finding its feet (note the muddy track that is Queen St in the above photo), this Greek temple themed design was the product of a competition held by the bank among Melbourne’s architects. Unfortunately, the bank itself would go out of business in 1884, and this building was demolished shortly afterwards. The same spot today:
THE APA TOWER
Corner of Collins Street and Queen Street
A great example of Melbourne’s art deco heritage, the tower was added to this already existent building in 1929, making it the city’s tallest for 30 years. Taken over by the firm ‘Legal and General’ in the 1950s, it was demolished in 1969 when they wanted a more up to date, and considerably less stylish, headquarters:
COLONIAL MUTUAL LIFE BUILDING
316 Collins Street
The ‘Equitable Company’ set themselves the ambition of constructing ‘the grandest building in the southern hemisphere’ for their Melbourne headquarters. Which, with a five year construction and £500 000 price tag, this wonderful building may well have been. Taken over by Colonial Mutual in 1923, it would serve as their grand offices for thirty years. But high maintenance costs and outdated fixtures made the company want rid of it by the 50’s. A bland office block stands in its place today, with the logo ‘CML’ emblazoned across its street level pillars, to remind people of what once was:
THE AUSTRALIA BUILDING
43-45 Elizabeth Street
The world’s third tallest building, at 12 storeys, when it was constructed in 1889, this building dominated Melbourne’s skyline for decades. At one time visible from anywhere in the city, the Australia Building was also the first tall building to employ mechanical lifts (powered hydraulically by high pressure water pumped from the Yarra). In 1980 its distinctive red facade and ornate roof was demolished to make way for this:
THE EASTERN MARKETS
Exhibition Street between Bourke and Little Collins Streets
Established in 1847, the Eastern Market was embryonic Melbourne’s principal fresh produce market for thirty years, before being superseded by the Queen Victoria Markets in the 1870’s. The Eastern market survived for nearly another 100 years, however, operating as a flower market and tourist attraction. The markets were demolished in 1962 to make way for the uniquely stylised ‘Southern Cross Hotel’:
The ‘Southern Cross’ was undoubtedly one of Melbourne’s most striking buildings, although it attracted as much vitriol as admiration. Famous guests of the hotel included; The Beatles, Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland. Frank Sinatra stayed there during his infamous 1974 tour of Australia, when he created a storm by referring to local female journalists as ‘hookers.’ And both the Brownlow Medal and the Logies were hosted in its function rooms. In 1999 it was sold off and slowly demolished, with the site sitting vacant for several years. The location is now occupied by this, considerably less flamboyant, mixed use building:
THE TIVOLI THEATRE
235 Bourke Street
Very few pictures or drawings remain of the Tivoli Theatre. When it opened in 1901 (from a design by William Pitt) it was originally named ‘Harry Rickards’ New Opera House’, after it’s first owner. The theatre presented a variety of live entertainments, including music, comedy and vaudeville. Harry Houdini,W.C. Fields and Chico Marx are among the famous names who performed there.
Sold by Rickards in 1912, it was renamed the Tivoli shortly after and continued to present live entertainment right through until the 1960s. Converted in that decade to a cinema, the fate of many of Melbourne’s old theatres, the building was destroyed by fire in 1967. The ‘Tivoli Arcade’ stands on the site today:
THE QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDINGS
Swanston Street, Between Bourke and Collins Streets
Built in 1888, the Queen Victoria Buildings ran the length of the block on Swanston Street, opposite the town hall. A rare local example of French Second Empire architecture, the elaborate facade and roof of the building was further ornamented by a number of statues, including a sizable one of the monarch it was named after. The building was used for high end retail shops and featured a glass topped arcade, The Queens Walk, that ran between Bourke and Collins:
In the 1960’s, the Melbourne City Council began to consider the construction of a large public park in the city centre. Across a decade or more, it gradually acquired parts of the Queen Victoria – and other adjacent – buildings for this purpose. Demolition commenced in the late 1960’s and took several years (The Regent Hotel was also acquired and scheduled to be knocked down as part of the same project, but was saved by a union ban). The new open space was dubbed ‘City Square’:
Windswept and largely ignored, part of it was sold for development in the 1990s and the Westin Hotel was built on this section. The remainder of the park was redesigned and remains for public use:
MELBOURNE/QUEEN VICTORIA HOSPITAL
172 – 254 Lonsdale Street
Built in 1911 of bluestone, with stylish towers and iron railings, the Melbourne was almost too elegant to be a hospital. It’s graceful facade was further complemented by a lush garden (visible above) that ran around two sides of the grounds. Initially home to the principal hospital for the city, in 1946 it was reconstituted as a specialised institution for women and children (and was solely staffed by women for a time), and renamed the Queen Victoria. The hospital closed in 1987 and the site was then used for a variety of unlikely purposes, including a mini golf course and a craft market. In 1992 the site was purchased by a development group and three of the four hospital buildings demolished. The bulk of the property was then turned into a mixed commerical premises, the QV Building:
The one remaining hospital building was refurbished and returned to its previous use, once again offering care to women and children, in 1994.
264 – 270 Collins Street
One of Australia’s most famous architects, Walter Burley Griffin, designed the sumptuous Cafe Australia, a remodeling of an existing cafe on Collins Street. Opening in 1916, the cafe bore all of Griffin’s trademarks; an elaborate facade and entryway, delicate concrete ornamentation and highly stylised interiors.
Cafe Australia was only shortlived, however. It closed and demolished in 1938 and was replaced by the similarly named Hotel Australia, which borrowed much from Griffin’s design, but lacked the overall panache of the previous establishment.
This building was then reworked into the current occupant of the site, ‘Australia on Collins’, an up market retail space.
Heritage listing can be achieved on a number of quite different grounds. Check here “Heritage Listing – What is it?” for a previous blog we presented that has links and an explanation of what achieving a Heritage Listing can entail.
Our heritage is what gives our cities and towns, our nation it’s character. It should be respected and protected so that future generations can appreciate just how we have come to live in this wide brown land.
From Victorian pomp and grandeur to the rather abstract and visually challenging lines of Federation Square – it’s simply our heritage, our imprimatur – it’s certainly worth preserving.
Festival Hall in West Melbourne is a venue familiar to many readers. Music performers from the Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Doobie Bros and many more such acts have performed there over the last 70 years. World Champion Boxer Lionel Rose fought there and had a funeral there in his honour. But – the building is unsightly externally. The owners wish to demolish it and develop the site. What is the real solution?
Festival Hall still hosts live concerts and events
Heritage Victoria has announced the building’s inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register. Based on this the current owners plans are unlikely to proceed.
It’s an interesting conundrum, one that architecturally may require some lateral thinking. The ‘House of Stoush’ was designed to stage Boxing and Wrestling matches. Without massive volume, the hall is acoustically a nightmare. Perhaps the old auditorium can be improved internally with better soundproofing and modern equipment and just perhaps it can become part of a bigger complex, dedicated to Melbourne’s popular music history and performing arts.
The proposed development would see two apartment towers built on the site
The other main objection is that another series of soulless apartment towers will be built, adding nothing to the city or its activities and likely to be something less than desirable in ten years time when what is now modern becomes passé.
If ever there was an opportunity for the State Government and City of Melbourne to create a unique precinct, then this may be it. West Melbourne has always been the rump of industrial Melbourne until now. Extractive industries, rail yards and the edge of Yarra Ports have meant that this side of Melbourne (originally an extensive saltwater swamp fed by the Moonee ponds Creek and the Yarra) has remained dreary and industrial.
The planning application has been under consideration by the City of Melbourne
This is no longer the case. The rail yards are gone, the extractive industries have moved way out west, and the city hub has moved closer.
With some imagination and foresight (not to mention a realistic budget) this iconic location could house a concert hall, recording studios, art gallery and much more. It could become a performance venue on many different levels, with outdoor plazas, clever bars dedicated to Melbourne’s famous Pub music scene of the 70s, 80s and 90s.
A competitive tender situation as was evolved with Federation Square could ensure a truly magnificent result.
For now here are the latest reports from the Age Newspaper. The first confirms the Heritage Victoria listing, the second presents the rather intransigent response from the Wren family (yes, that Wren family – John Wren – Power without Glory), the current owners.
Festival Hall gets heritage listing, could be spared wrecking ball
West Melbourne’s Festival Hall has been recommended for inclusion on Victoria’s Heritage Register
The springy timber floor at its centre; the old, tiered wooden bleachers to the east and west; the theatre-like balcony to the south; the low stage to the north.
Like points on a compass, many of us can pinpoint moments in our lives, and the music that accompanied them, by these various parts within the brutalist brick structure that is West Melbourne’s Festival Hall.
And, thanks to a decision by Heritage Victoria, we may be able to do so for many decades more.
The state government body will on Friday announce it has recommended Festival Hall be included on the Victorian Heritage Register, meaning its owners’ plan to demolish the much-loved music venue are unlikely to be approved.
Festival Hall’s significance is more cultural than architectural, as the statement attached to Heritage Victoria executive director Steven Avery’s recommendation attests.
The venue was built in 1956, in time to host events during the Melbourne Olympic, after a 1912-era stadium on the site burnt down
Mr Avery determined that Festival Hall should be included on the heritage register for its historical and social significance as Victoria’s principal purpose-built boxing and wrestling venue and as one of Victoria’s primary live music venues.
The statement of significance cites the hall’s “importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria’s cultural history” and “strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons”.
And it lists the specific features – the floor, bleachers, stage and balcony – among its charms worth preserving. Even the “volume of the internal space” – it can hold up to 4500 people – was a factor in the decision.
John and Chris Wren, grandsons of bookmaker John Wren who built the current Festival Hall venue, are directors of the company that owns venue
The venue hosted boxing and gymnastics at the 1956 Olympic Games as well as bouts featuring revered Australian boxers including Johnny Famechon and Lionel Rose, whose funeral was held there in 2011.
For many years Melbourne’s only large concert hall, it bore witness to Judy Garland and the Beatles in the 1960s, Frank Sinatra and Joe Cocker in the 1970s, and Radiohead, Kanye West and Patti Smith more recently, the latter performing with hometown hero Courtney Barnett last year.
Music identity Molly Meldrum said Festival Hall held a unique place in Victoria’s live music history.
“There’s been so much of Melbourne’s music history in there, back to the days of Johnny O’Keeffe and then Skyhooks, Sherbet, Daddy Cool and of course the Beatles,” he said.
Meldrum – who said he was thrown out of the Beatles concert by bouncers who couldn’t handle the sight of a bloke screaming his love for John and Paul – called on the venue’s owners to turn its interior into a museum and live music venue.
“Let the people enjoy it,” he said.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne said he welcomed Heritage Victoria’s decision to accept a nomination to heritage-list Festival Hall.
Interiors such as the timber floors and wooden bleachers, where Chris and John Wren are pictured standing, are deemed to be of cultural significance
“Inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register will mean that any development of the site will have to protect and preserve [it’s] character and the history,” Mr Wynne said.
An anonymous application to heritage-list the venue was made in January, days after The Age revealed the owners had applied to knock down all but its facade.
The Heritage Council of Victoria will make the final decision.
The venue’s owner, Stadiums Limited, has indicated it plans to sell the site, and has lodged a planning application to demolish most of the hall and build two 16-storey buildings on the site.
Chris Wren, a director of the business, could not be contacted for comment before deadline.
Where’s Molly? Beatles fans scream as the Liverpudlians played Festival Hall in 1964
Festival Hall has risen like a phoenix before. The original structure, built in 1912, was known as the West Melbourne Stadium. It was taken over by John Wren, a well-known bookmaker, in 1915.
The building burnt down in 1955 but by 1956 Wren had built a new Festival Hall on the site in time for the Olympics.
Courtney Barnett’s September 1 gig is the latest listed on the Festival Hall website.
Good thing her show – perhaps capped off with Depreston, her ode to Melbourne’s overheated property market – is unlikely to be its last.
Festival Hall owners not done with demolition despite heritage listing
Festival Hall was built in 1955, in time to host events during the Melbourne Olympics, after a 1912-era stadium on the site burnt down
The owners of Melbourne’s Festival Hall are pushing ahead with their plan to demolish the historic music venue and build apartment towers on the site, despite it being recommended for heritage protection.
Melbourne QC Chris Wren, representing venue owners Stadiums Limited, said the heritage referral came as no surprise, and the planning approvals process had a long way to go.
“We expected that this might happen and we will now follow due process while the matter is being considered by the Heritage Council,” Mr Wren said on Friday.
The development proposal would see all but the facade of the West Melbourne venue demolished
Stadiums Limited plans to sell the site and has lodged an application with the City of Melbourne to demolish all but the facade of the hall and build two 16-storey apartment towers.
The hall was built in 1955 by Mr Wren’s grandfather, well-known bookmaker John Wren, after a 1912-era stadium that he had owned since 1915 burnt down. It has hosted musical acts including the Beatles, Olympic boxing and gymnastics, televised wrestling bouts, trade union rallies and even a state funeral for world boxing champion Lionel Rose.
Heritage Victoria executive director Steven Avery has recommended Festival Hall be included on the Victorian Heritage Register, meaning that any development would need approval from the Heritage Council before it could be considered by the City of Melbourne.
Mr Avery noted the building’s significance was more cultural than architectural and highlighted interior features including its timber floor and tiered wooden bleachers among elements that warrant protection.
The application will be open for public consultation for 60 days before the Heritage Council makes its decision. The Heritage Council is independent of government. Heritage Victoria is a state government body that advises the Heritage Council.
Listing of the building on the heritage register would not necessarily stop the development from going ahead, Mr Wren told ABC Radio.
He said the development proposal already incorporated elements of the building’s heritage and the original plans would be revised on the advice of Victoria’s government architect.
“They’ve had a look at it and have made some suggestions, and we’re about to incorporate those suggestions into a revised plan. They otherwise thought it wasn’t such a bad proposal, subject to some things that needed to be touched up.
Chris Wren announced the development plans in January
“We’ve gone and spoken to people we regard as having expertise in this area and got their recommendations and sought to incorporate that because we recognise that the building for some people has great memories.
“We can make submissions about whether it’s got heritage significance – the extent of [it], what should or shouldn’t be retained, and what may be capable of being removed – but still maintaining some of the significance so that people’s memories … can be retained, at the same time recognising that you’ve got to move on.”
Planning Minister Richard Wynne could intervene on any development.
But Mr Wren said he thought Mr Wynne’s comments in support of Festival Hall’s heritage listing could disqualify him on the grounds of bias.
A state funeral was held at Festival Hall for world boxing champion Lionel Rose in 2011
Mr Wynne has acknowledged the proposal could still go ahead regardless of heritage protection.
“Heritage Victoria will advertise the application for 60 days and ultimately the Heritage Council which is independent of government will make a final decision,” Mr Wynne told 3AW.
“Clearly I would have the capacity to intervene as Minister for Planning but I think (heritage protection) would be widely supported … it doesn’t mean that all of Festival Hall would be retained, but any application has to respect the cultural and social significance of the site.”
From the outside this looks to be likely to be an interesting battle. Let’s hope the current State Government steps up to the plate and develops a realistic program to ensure the retention of this most iconic Melbourne location. Without Festival Hall through the mid twentieth century to the early twenty-first century Melbourne would be a very different place. As Bon Scott and AC/DC once belted out from its low level stage ‘Let there be rock, Sound Light and Music’ – and this our very own Festival Hall will always be the place.