Melbourne City Council Elections and Heritage

The Melbourne City Council Elections are coming up at the end of October, all residents and owners and occupiers of raebable property are eligible to vote, for more information see the VEC page.

Melbourne Heritage Action sent all candidates a list of questions that ask about the importance of heritage protection in Melbourne and about what we could expect from the different candidates and leadership teams if they were elected to council. The responses we have received so far are listed below and we will add others when we receive them. If you want more detail on who is running or to contact any of the candidates with your own questions on heritage you can find the details on the VEC page here.

Responses are in italics.

Jump to Gary Morgan and John ElliotTeam Doyle, Joe ToscanoAnthony van der CraatsGary Singer and John So ‘Melbourne Living’

Response from Gary Morgan and John Elliot team – website.

QUESTION 1

Do you acknowledge that the built heritage of Melbourne’s CBD is a vital element of Melbourne’s character, essence, liveability and desirability?

The built heritage of Melbourne is of fundamental importance – not only for its historic and aesthetic value but also it is of crucial economic importance to Melbourne. Our built heritage differentiates us from so many other cities and is key tourist attraction.

QUESTION 2
Within the City of Melbourne, and particularly in the CBD, our built heritage is being steadily eroded. Buildings that were significant to our city’s character and history have been lost (Lonsdale House and 40% of the Windsor Hotel) or facaded (Myer and current proposals for the Celtic Club and Royal Saxon Hotel). Should the City of Melbourne continue to allow full demolition or facading of heritage buildings?

See response above. It is absolutely vital that the remaining heritage building stock exteriors and interiors be protected.

QUESTION 3
The City of Melbourne has recently approved a Heritage Strategy for public comment. It outlines some of the many gaps in heritage protection in the City of Melbourne. Do you support the protection of a wider range of places and the upgrading of policy controls for heritage structures and precincts as recommended in the Heritage Strategy?

See above. Essentially the CoM Strategy is a good start. However it fails to adequately cover the entire municipality and does not adequately deal with interiors, a good example is the first floor dinning room of the MCG Hotel.

QUESTION 4
How will you ensure that this vital heritage strategy is carried out and funded in full and not abandoned as previous heritage studies have been in the past?

The Morgan Elliott Team is staunchly supporting heritage protection and will ensure funding is made available to fast-track the implementation of the strategy. See the collective track record of Gary Morgan, Jackie Watts and Michael Kennedy – all long-term advocates for heritage protection.

QUESTION 5
Would you support the establishment of a dedicated heritage unit or steering committee within the City of Melbourne to ensure heritage is properly managed?

The Morgan Elliott Team will commit to establishing a CoM Heritage Advisory Group if elected.

QUESTION 6
The recent CBD heritage review recommended 99 new individual buildings be heritage listed. However, this can only be seen as “stop gap” study. Many more buildings and notable precincts remain unprotected. Would you support more protection of Melbourne’s increasingly rare, smaller scale heritage buildings and precincts, including its laneways?

The Morgan Elliott team has expressed its intention to roll out heritage protection for buildings and precincts throughout the municipality. We need to protect all that remains – there is so little.

QUESTION 7
As it stands a number of extremely significant heritage interiors such as Block Court on Collins Street and the Centenary Hall interiors on Exhibition Street have absolutely no protection and could be destroyed at any time without the public or the City of Melbourne being notified. How would you ensure that heritage interiors are protected in the immediate future before they are lost?

Valuable interiors obviously have to be listed along with buildings and spaces.

QUESTION 8
Melbourne Heritage Action recently compiled a detailed study of the CBD’s laneways and found that only nine laneways had any real protection. Many lanes celebrated by the City of Melbourne, such as Literature Lane and AC/DC lane, have had major developments approved that make little effort to enhance the lanes they are built on. Melbourne’s lanes continue to be sold off. How will you ensure that Melbourne’s laneway network is better protected and managed?

See above –heritage protection must extend so that it applies to spaces as well as built form. It will require CoM investment

QUESTION 9
Following its inclusion on the list of 99 buildings to be considered for heritage protection in the CBD the famous mosaic floors of Rosati’s restaurant in Flinders Lane were demolished because interim protection—requested by the City of Melbourne over a year ago—had not been approve by Planning Minister Guy. Likewise, the historic former VD clinic on Little Lonsdale Street, on same the list, is the subject of a current demolition application by its owners. In your view, how important is the long accepted mechanism of interim heritage protection? How will you ensure that the Minister does not continue to ignore requests for interim protection from the City of Melbourne?

The Morgan Elliott Team will take a proactive rather than reactive stance on heritage protection issues and insist on recognition that heritage protection has an economic value for Melbourne, which seems to have traction with the State government.

A Morgan Elliott Council will recruit and empower a Heritage Advisory Reference to fill the ‘space’ vacated by Heritage Victoria which cannot does not function support heritage properly because it is now merely an arm of Government itself.

Also – The Morgan Elliott Team will seek to have the Minister re-instate a formal high level Government/Council committee to put Council concerns back into the State Government – and not leave it as it is currently – a casual irregular relationship between bureaucrats and the Lord Mayor.

QUESTION 10
The Minister for Planning is the responsible authority for projects in the CBD over 25 000 m2. This means the City of Melbourne is bypassed completely. This threshold is now thirty years old, which means that each year many more projects are over this limit and are ‘called in’. This gives the planning minister power over many more developments than was originally intended. Should this limit be raised, or eliminated altogether? And should there be a different system for dealing with these larger projects which directly impact on the planning of Melbourne’s CBD?

The Morgan Elliott Team will strongly advocate for Council becoming the responsible authority for buildings below 50,000 square meters. Further ALL large-scale developments going before the Minister will first have to come before the entire Council before any recommendation is made. Currently such in principle approval for massive developments can in theory merely be put to the Minster from his staff.

Response from Team Doyle – website

Do you acknowledge that the built heritage of Melbourne’s CBD is a vital element of Melbourne’s character, essence, liveability and desirability?

Yes.

Within the City of Melbourne, and particularly in the CBD, our built heritage is being steadily eroded. Buildings that were significant to our city’s character and history have been lost (Lonsdale House and 40% of the Windsor Hotel) or facaded (Myer and current proposals for the Celtic Club and Royal Saxon Hotel). Should the City of Melbourne continue to allow full demolition or facading of heritage buildings?

This is why the City of Melbourne has drafted the Heritage Study which is now open for public comment. The purpose is to deliver better measures for protecting Melbourne’s heritage buildings in future. The new study covers aspects of our cultural and natural heritage that council can influence or has direct responsibility for. In particular, the Study recommends a progressive review of previously identified heritage places and precincts, commencing with those precincts where change is most likely. We support this approach.

The City of Melbourne has recently approved a Heritage Strategy for public comment. It outlines some of the many gaps in heritage protection in the City of Melbourne. Do you support the protection of a wider range of places and the upgrading of policy controls for heritage structures and precincts as recommended in the Heritage Strategy?

Yes.

How will you ensure that this vital heritage strategy is carried out and funded in full and not abandoned as previous heritage studies have been in the past?

The Heritage Study is the largest review of its kind in more than 25 years. Council was unanimous in extending protection to 98 heritage buildings in the CBD. It will provide Council with a coordinated approach that it can use to strengthen management of the City’s heritage assets. I have been committed to developing this strategy during my current term and will continue to do so if reelected. 

Would you support the establishment of a dedicated heritage unit or steering committee within the City of Melbourne to ensure heritage is properly managed?

We would examine the need for a dedicated heritage unit.

The recent CBD heritage review recommended 99 new individual buildings be heritage listed. However, this can only be seen as “stop gap” study. Many more buildings and notable precincts remain unprotected. Would you support more protection of Melbourne’s increasingly rare, smaller scale heritage buildings and precincts, including its laneways?

The process of reviewing Melbourne’s heritage landmarks is ongoing. We will never be able to sit back and say that we are finished. The Heritage Strategy is a significant step that establishes better processes for identifying and assessing all future heritage listings, including smaller buildings, laneways and interiors. The Strategy includes investigating the  establishment of a City of Melbourne heritage information portal that provides access to all of Melbourne’s heritage information repositories.

As it stands a number of extremely significant heritage interiors such as Block Court on Collins Street and the Centenary Hall interiors on Exhibition Street have absolutely no protection and could be destroyed at any time without the public or the City of Melbourne being notified. How would you ensure that heritage interiors are protected in the immediate future before they are lost?

The Heritage Strategy is the first of its kind to include interiors. We have identified 12 building interiors in Melbourne’s CBD to be included in our protections and regard this as a starting point. We want to work more closely with private owners, as well as bodies like the National Trust, state government and heritage groups to ensure our heritage is celebrated and protected.

Melbourne Heritage Action recently compiled a detailed study of the CBD’s laneways and found that only nine laneways had any real protection. Many lanes celebrated by the City of Melbourne, such as Literature Lane and AC/DC Lane, have had major developments approved that make little effort to enhance the lanes they are built on. Melbourne’s lanes continue to be sold off. How will you ensure that Melbourne’s laneway network is better protected and managed?

Protecting the City’s laneways is an ongoing issue for Council and an area that will require greater focus. Although Council generally avoids the sale of lanes, there are occasions where sales are appropriate. I believe the City laneway network is a vital part of Melbourne’s urban form and a significant contributor to the identity and vitality of our city.

Following its inclusion on the list of 99 buildings to be considered for heritage protection in the CBD the famous mosaic floors of Rosati’s restaurant in Flinders Lane were demolished because interim protection—requested by the City of Melbourne over a year ago—had not been approved by Planning Minister Guy. Likewise, the historic former VD clinic on Little Lonsdale Street, on same the list, is the subject of a current demolition application by its owners. In your view, how important is the long accepted mechanism of interim heritage protection? How will you ensure that the Minister does not continue to ignore requests for interim protection from the City of Melbourne?

The City of Melbourne is not the only custodian of the city’s heritage. State government, private owners and managers of heritage places, community-based organisations and the many resident and history groups throughout the city all have important roles in sustaining our heritage. Through the Heritage Strategy, the City of Melbourne will seek to enhance its ability to work in partnership with other custodians and heritage organisations.

One measure I would like to see implemented is Council becomes the planning authority for all approvals, including those above 25,000sqm. That is one way we would ensure controversial developments are subject to thorough community consultation. 

The Heritage Strategy will ensure the city is well designed and managed as the population grows but without sacrificing our quality of life, or losing the history that is essential to our identity.

The Minister for Planning is the responsible authority for projects in the CBD over 25 000 m2. This means the City of Melbourne is bypassed completely. This threshold is now thirty years old, which means that each year many more projects are over this limit and are ‘called in’. This gives the planning minister power over many more developments than was originally intended. Should this limit be raised, or eliminated altogether? And should there be a different system for dealing with these larger projects which directly impact on the planning of Melbourne’s CBD?

I believe Council should have authority for all approvals and remove the size limit altogether to ensure a consistent heritage assessment approach for every building, landmark and development in the City of Melbourne.

Response from Anthony van der Craats

Do you acknowledge that the built heritage of Melbourne’s CBD is a vital element of Melbourne’s character, essence, liveability and desirability?

Yes

Within the City of Melbourne, and particularly in the CBD, our built heritage is being steadily eroded. Buildings that were significant to our city’s character and history have been lost (Lonsdale House and 40% of the Windsor Hotel) or facaded (Myer and current proposals for the Celtic Club and Royal Saxon Hotel). Should the City of Melbourne continue to allow full demolition or facading of heritage buildings?

No

The City of Melbourne has recently approved a Heritage Strategy for public comment. It outlines some of the many gaps in heritage protection in the City of Melbourne. Do you support the protection of a wider range of places and the upgrading of policy controls for heritage structures and precincts as recommended in the Heritage Strategy?

Yes, and I would even go further. One policy that is being ignored by the City Council is the excellent policy document on Victorian Verandahs.

 How will you ensure that this vital heritage strategy is carried out and funded in full and not abandoned as previous heritage studies have been in the past?

I would insist that the City of Council when review of all planning applications that they take into consideration heritage preservation and where an application impacts on a site of significance that the application contain a detailed report and assessment of its impact on the heritage value in accordance with ICOMOS standards and procedures. I would also invite organisations and experts outside the City Council to sit on a heritage review committee that would have charter and responsibility to oversee heritage applications.

Would you support the establishment of a dedicated heritage unit or steering committee within the City of Melbourne to ensure heritage is properly managed?

Yes see above.

The recent CBD heritage review recommended 99 new individual buildings be heritage listed. However, this can only be seen as “stop gap” study. Many more buildings and notable precincts remain unprotected. Would you support more protection of Melbourne’s increasingly rare, smaller scale heritage buildings and precincts, including its laneways?

Yes this would be a task that would fall under the proposed heritage Committee listed above.

As it stands a number of extremely significant heritage interiors such as Block Court on Collins Street and the Centenary Hall interiors on Exhibition Street have absolutely no protection and could be destroyed at any time without the public or the City of Melbourne being notified. How would you ensure that heritage interiors are protected in the immediate future before they are lost?

These buildings and other should be protected by appropriate legislative provisions. The proposed expert committee would have the charter to consider any application for inclusion on the city’s heritage list

Melbourne Heritage Action recently compiled a detailed study of the CBD’s laneways and found that only nine laneways had any real protection. Many lanes celebrated by the City of Melbourne, such as Literature Lane and AC/DC lane, have had major developments approved that make little effort to enhance the lanes they are built on. Melbourne’s lanes continue to be sold off. How will you ensure that Melbourne’s laneway network is better protected and managed?

The proposed expert committee would have the charter to consider any application for inclusion on the city’s heritage list and Council’s management policy.

Following its inclusion on the list of 99 buildings to be considered for heritage protection in the CBD the famous mosaic floors of Rosati’s restaurant in Flinders Lane were demolished because interim protection—requested by the City of Melbourne over a year ago—had not been approve by Planning Minister Guy. Likewise, the historic former VD clinic on Little Lonsdale Street, on same the list, is the subject of a current demolition application by its owners. In your view, how important is the long accepted mechanism of interim heritage protection?

High priority

How will you ensure that the Minister does not continue to ignore requests for interim protection from the City of Melbourne?

Unfortunately the Council cannot override the directions of the State Minister however it is appropriate that the Council monitor and highlight any threats to our built and natural heritage as identified by the Council’s Expert Heritage committee and actively use the resources of the Council to advocate for their protection and if necessary seek legal address at VCAT and the Courts.

The Minister for Planning is the responsible authority for projects in the CBD over 25 000 m2. This means the City of Melbourne is bypassed completely. This threshold is now thirty years old, which means that each year many more projects are over this limit and are ‘called in’. This gives the planning minister power over many more developments than was originally intended. Should this limit be raised, or eliminated altogether?And should there be a different system for dealing with these larger projects which directly impact on the planning of Melbourne’s CBD?

The Council remains the planning authority and has the right to make submissions to the State Government and if need be seek appeal and review. It must retain the right of oversight and if need be the right to appeal to a higher authority or seek judicial review.

Responses from Joseph Toscano

Do you acknowledge that the built heritage of Melbourne’s CBD is a vital element of Melbourne’s character, essence, liveability and desirability?

ANSWER Yes.

Within the City of Melbourne, and particularly in the CBD, our built heritage is being steadily eroded. Buildings that were significant to our city’s character and history have been lost (Lonsdale House and 40% of the Windsor Hotel) or facaded (Myer and current proposals for the Celtic Club and Royal Saxon Hotel). Should the City of Melbourne continue to allow full demolition or facading of heritage buildings?

 No.

The City of Melbourne has recently approved a Heritage Strategy for public comment. It outlines some of the many gaps in heritage protection in the City of Melbourne. Do you support the protection of a wider range of places and the upgrading of policy controls for heritage structures and precincts as recommended in the Heritage Strategy? 

Yes.

How will you ensure that this vital heritage strategy is carried out and funded in full and not abandoned as previous heritage studies have been in the past?

 Allocate a specific budget towards this issue.

Would you support the establishment of a dedicated heritage unit or steering committee within the City of Melbourne to ensure heritage is properly managed?

 Yes.

The recent CBD heritage review recommended 99 new individual buildings be heritage listed. However, this can only be seen as “stop gap” study. Many more buildings and notable precincts remain unprotected. Would you support more protection of Melbourne’s increasingly rare, smaller scale heritage buildings and precincts, including its laneways? 

  Yes.

 As it stands a number of extremely significant heritage interiors such as Block Court on Collins Street and the Centenary Hall interiors on Exhibition Street have absolutely no protection and could be destroyed at any time without the public or the City of Melbourne being notified. How would you ensure that heritage interiors are protected in the immediate future before they are lost?

 List them.

Melbourne Heritage Action recently compiled a detailed study of the CBD’s laneways and found that only nine laneways had any real protection. Many lanes celebrated by the City of Melbourne, such as Literature Lane and AC/DC lane, have had major developments approved that make little effort to enhance the lanes they are built on. Melbourne’s lanes continue to be sold off. How will you ensure that Melbourne’s laneway network is better protected and managed?

 No further laneway sales.

Following its inclusion on the list of 99 buildings to be considered for heritage protection in the CBD the famous mosaic floors of Rosati’s restaurant in Flinders Lane were demolished because interim protection—requested by the City of Melbourne over a year ago—had not been approve by Planning Minister Guy. Likewise, the historic former VD clinic on Little Lonsdale Street, on same the list, is the subject of a current demolition application by its owners. In your view, how important is the long accepted mechanism of interim heritage protection?

Very important.

How will you ensure that the Minister does not continue to ignore requests for interim protection from the City of Melbourne?

 Organising mass protests.

The Minister for Planning is the responsible authority for projects in the CBD over 25 000 m2. This means the City of Melbourne is bypassed completely. This threshold is now thirty years old, which means that each year many more projects are over this limit and are ‘called in’. This gives the planning minister power over many more developments than was originally intended. Should this limit be raised, or eliminated altogether?

Eliminate.

And should there be a different system for dealing with these larger projects which directly impact on the planning of Melbourne’s CBD?

 Yes

Responses from Gary Singer and John So team ‘Melbourne Living’

1. Do you acknowledge that the built heritage of Melbourne’s CBD is a vital element of Melbourne’s character, essence, liveability and desirability?

YES

2. Within the City of Melbourne, and particularly in the CBD, our built heritage is being steadily eroded. Buildings that were significant to our city’s character and history have been lost (Lonsdale House and 40% of the Windsor Hotel) or facaded (Myer and current proposals for the Celtic Club and Royal Saxon Hotel). Should the City of Melbourne continue to allow full demolition or facading of heritage buildings?

No

3. The City of Melbourne has recently approved a Heritage Strategy for public comment. It outlines some of the many gaps in heritage protection in the City of Melbourne. Do you support the protection of a wider range of places and the upgrading of policy controls for heritage structures and precincts as recommended in the Heritage Strategy?

 Yes

4. How will you ensure that this vital heritage strategy is carried out and funded in full and not abandoned as previous heritage studies have been in the past?

 Put the required funds into the budget and list as a deliverable in Council Plan.

5. Would you support the establishment of a dedicated heritage unit or steering committee within the City of Melbourne to ensure heritage is properly managed?

An advisory group of heritage experts of both Council and external members.

6. The recent CBD heritage review recommended 99 new individual buildings be heritage listed. However, this can only be seen as “stop gap” study. Many more buildings and notable precincts remain unprotected. Would you support more protection of Melbourne’s increasingly rare, smaller scale heritage buildings and precincts, including its laneways? 

Yes

7. As it stands a number of extremely significant heritage interiors such as Block Court on Collins Street and the Centenary Hall interiors on Exhibition Steet have absolutely no protection and could be destroyed at any time without the public or the City of Melbourne being notified. How would you ensure that heritage interiors are protected in the immediate future before they are lost?

 Require a separate heritage study report on interiors and protect where recommended.

8. Melbourne Heritage Action recently compiled a detailed study of the CBD’s laneways and found that only nine laneways had any real protection. Many lanes celebrated by the City of Melbourne, such as Literature Lane and AC/DC lane, have had major developments approved that make little effort to enhance the lanes they are built on. Melbourne’s lanes continue to be sold off. How will you ensure that Melbourne’s laneway network is better protected and managed?

Will require expert heritage review and recommendation of which laneways and their significance.

9. Following its inclusion on the list of 99 buildings to be considered for heritage protection in the CBD the famous mosaic floors of Rosati’s restaurant in Flinders Lane were demolished because interim protection—requested by the City of Melbourne over a year ago—had not been approve by Planning Minister Guy. Likewise, the historic former VD clinic on Little Lonsdale Street, on same the list, is the subject of a current demolition application by its owners. In your view, how important is the long accepted mechanism of interim heritage protection?

How will you ensure that the Minister does not continue to ignore requests for interim protection from the City of Melbourne? 

Instead of Interim protection, carry out the Heritage study and expert report and when the study is on, no application can be processed during the review if the properly is part of the review. Retrospective or interim, after the start of an application is not the correct mechanism.

10. The Minister for Planning is the responsible authority for projects in the CBD over 25 000 m2. This means the City of Melbourne is bypassed completely. This threshold is now thirty years old, which means that each year many more projects are over this limit and are ‘called in’. This gives the planning minister power over many more developments than was originally intended. Should this limit be raised, or eliminated altogether?

Limit should be raised. To 50,000 sq metres.

And should there be a different system for dealing with these larger projects which directly impact on the planning of Melbourne’s CBD?

If the threshold is raised and most buildings would be captured under the Melbourne Planning Scheme and its rules, treat it like all other development applications. If it is over the threshold, the Minister for Planning and DPCD must take into consideration the comments and recommendations on conditions for approval put forward by CoM.

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One thought on “Melbourne City Council Elections and Heritage

  1. What about the Princess Mary Club in Lonsdale Street ? surely this is just as deserving as many of the 9 buildings just listed. So much history attached to that very architecturally significant building.

    Like

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