Robur Tea House Appeal Against Development Refusal

August 2023

The famous Robur Tea House on Clarendon Street, Southbank recently faced another attempt to reduce its heritage value and architectural significance. A proposal was submitted to redevelop the site, including the partial demolition of the Tea House and construction of office, retail and residential buildings, including a 25 story apartment and hotel complex.

The proposed Tea House Hotel was to be more than 100 metres tall and would have dwarfed the six storey original building. There would have been connections between the new buildings and every level of the Tea House, undermining the physical separation of the Tea House and  effectively relegating it to being a façade for retail spaces and food and drinks operations.

A similar proposal, including a 25 storey hotel, was rejected just four years ago. The Heritage Committee of the RHSV lodged a strong objection with Heritage Victoria, urging it to preserve an important building and the street scape that it contributes so much to.

On 30 May Heritage Victoria (HV) rejected the application to surround the historic Robur Tea House with a 25 story hotel and a range of other retail and commercial buildings. HV was clearly unimpressed by the proposal. In explaining its decision, HV’s Executive Director noted that the development would have a substantial adverse visual and physical impact and significantly harm the site’s cultural heritage.

He criticised the planned redevelopment for maximising the commercial and planning limits of the site with no regard for its other values. ‘The Robur Tea Building would be consumed by the proposed development and the ability to understand and appreciate the place as a freestanding landmark building would be lost … The negative impacts of the proposal outweigh the benefits.’ The Tea House is not completely secure. The developer has 60 days to appeal the decision, but HV has made clear that the build and its surroundings are important to Melbourne’s heritage and need to be preserved.

Update: In August 2023 the applicant for the development permit has requested a review of the determination and has requested an appeal hearing (see grounds here). The permit review hearing will be scheduled to take place in the coming months. The RHSV submitted a successful objection earlier in the year and will be following the review process too.


Click here to read RHSV submission.

Click here to read the refusal to grant a permit.

Click here for informative background Q & A’s on the significance of the Robur Tea House, and efforts made to preserve it.