CURRENT ADVOCACY PROJECTS
The following advocacy projects are regarding Heritage issues within the state of Victoria for which the RHSV is providing a voice. These notices may include support, objections, recommendations and general notices on heritage matters. The current advocacy list displays such statements and notices.
When an advocacy project closes or a statement is superseded it may be removed from this page. Once removed from this list, the advocacy projects are archived and may be viewed on the ‘Archived Advocacy Projects’ page.
Image – Prime Minister Ben Chifley introducing Australia’s own car, the Holden, at the manufacturing plant at Fisherman’s Bend, Victoria, 29 November 1948 – National Library of Australia
July 2020 • RHSV Protests Minister’s Short-Circuiting Plans for Heritage Listing of GMH Site
The iconic GMH site at Fishermans Bend, where Ben Chifley launched the first Holden, was on track to be listed on the Victorian Heritage Register until, in February, Planning Minister Richard Wynne called in the nomination. The Minister is short-circuiting the heritage and planning processes to facilitate a development that will destroy much of the historic fabric before the site is registered. We have written to the Minister to urge him to follow proper process.
Royal Exhibition Building Environs
Threat to Royal Exhibition Building World Heritage site
A new building being proposed by St Vincent’s Hospital adjacent to the Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition Building threatens to undermine the heritage values of that historically important World Heritage site.
The hospital is proposing to demolish the 11-storey 1950s-era Aikenhead Building on the corner of Victoria Parade and Nicholson Street, Fitzroy, and to partly demolish the historic Brenan Hall next to it. These will be replaced by a larger building faced with reflective glass, which because of its height, bulk and reflective appearance would be a visual intrusion and have a serious negative impact on this World Heritage site and the surrounding area of South Fitzroy.
Another Challenge to the World Heritage Listed Royal Exhibition Building
In another challenge to the integrity of the World and National Heritage Listed Royal Exhibition Building (REB) site, a proposal is with Yarra City Council to redevelop 1-9 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, near the corner of Gertrude and Nicholson Streets. Taken as a whole, the importance of this site, incorporating the REB, the Carlton Gardens and their surrounds, cannot be overstated.
Queen Victoria Markets
Our efforts to preserve the QVM continued during 2020. On 29 April, RHSV Heritage Committee chair Charles Sowerwine spoke at a public forum organised by the Friends of QVM and the National Trust, ‘The Queen Victoria Market Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Heritage and Emotion’.
Continuing its quest to ‘modernise’ the market, Council applied to Heritage Victoria for permits for two new structures, ‘Northern Shed’ and ‘Trader Shed’. In April 2020, RHSV made substantial submissions opposing both these developments. On 3 December Heritage Victoria refused the permit for the modern canopy in Queen Street (‘Northern Shed’) on the basis that it was ‘of a scale, form and materiality that is at odds with the architectural significance of Queen Victoria Market’ but granted permits for the loading docks and waste facilities proposed. It also approved the brutalist ‘Trader Shed’, intended to provide facilities for an anticipated fast-food workforce.
We are bitterly disappointed at this decision, which will enable CoM to proceed with its plans to ‘modernise’ the market and replace its traditional fresh fruit and veg offerings with a fast-food focus.
In July 2020, Council also began discussing a Charter for Market Square, the proposed new ‘events space’ to be built on the current car park. We were not included in the consultation process for this charter. We made a submission to the MCC ‘Future Melbourne Committee’ (aka Planning Committee). Our aim here was to ensure that the charter acknowledge the space’s inclusion in the heritage site and ensure that its functions are complementary to the market. Consultation with Cr Jackie Watts and negotiations with other councillors has resulted in some improvements to the charter.
Mt Buninyong Development
We were approached by the Buninyong and District Historical Society, which objected to a grotesque proposal to build tourist accommodation in the form of giant wine barrels on the slopes of this picturesque extinct volcano near Ballarat, a site significant to Indigenous and settler populations alike and listed on the now closed Register of the National Estate. Ballarat Council rejected the application unanimously. The developer has gone to VCAT and we have submitted a statement of grounds in the case. Unfortunately, the developer has commenced construction of the first unit, which cannot be challenged as one dwelling can be erected without a permit provided it conforms to the code.
The Age, 8 August 2020, carried an article in which the recently appointed CEO of Fed Square, Dr Xavier Csar, spoke of opening the square to the Yarra (Jewel Topsfield, ‘Federation Square to improve links to the Yarra’; see https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/federation-square-to-improve-links-to-the-yarra-20200808-p55jtp.html). The Heritage Committee participated extensively in the reviews that followed rejection of the Apple Store and had been awaiting results of these reviews. I wrote to Dr Xavier Csar, CEO of Fed Square, seeking an interview.
On 7 September, Judy Smart, Ian Wight and I met by Zoom with Dr Csar, who reassured us that there were no plans for building works and that ‘embracing the Yarra’ meant improved signage, access, and food services at the riverside. He also reassured us that (as we had argued), Fed Square’s revenues would suffice for expected maintenance.
North Park sketch, 1888, State Library Victoria
Historic Garden Saved
North Park Subdivision & Redevelopment
In September 2020 the RHSV lodged a submission to support the Essendon Historical Society and the ‘Save North Park’ community group, opposing plans for subdivision and development of the grounds of the former North Park, Essendon. The application was refused by Heritage Victoria and then the Moonee Valley Council also unanimously refused the planning application.
Appeals against these decisions were lodged by the owner and RHSV submitted a Statement of Grounds with VCAT. Both appeals were withdrawn by the applicant and RHSV expects revised plans and new applications in the near future.
North Park, Essendon, is a a high Victorian mansion still surrounded by its intact gardens. Both the mansion and the gardens are on the Victorian Heritage Register. “The grounds of North Park are of aesthetic importance as an outstanding example of the gardenesque style and for the unusual three curved terraces, wide drive, garden path remains, and the evergreen trees and large conifers which contribute to the picturesque profile of the overall composition.”
North Park is now owned by the St Columban order. They proposed to construct 25 townhouses on the grounds. Local community opposition developed quickly, supported by the Essendon Historical Society. Heritage Victoria refused a permit and Moonee Valley Council also refused a town planning permit. The St Columban’s appealed to the Heritage Council and to VCAT. The RHSV made major submissions to both bodies, supporting the EHS and the local community. Both appeals have now been withdrawn.
This is a battle won, but the war will no doubt continue. We will keep alert for the next battle.
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