Good News for Melbourne’s CBD Heritage

Melbourne Heritage Action is happy to be able to share the news that last week the planning minister Matthew Guy finally approved heritage overlay controls over 87 buildings, under the Planning Scheme Amendment C186. This means that 87 buildings in Melbourne’s CBD now have statutory heritage protection. This includes some of Melbourne’s most important and already well-loved buildings such as the Argus building on the corner of Elizabeth and La Trobe Streets, the State Savings Bank on Collins Street, and the Sir Charles Hotham Hotel on the corner of Flinders and Spencer Streets.

This new heritage protection includes buildings from as early as the 1850s but it is particularly important for the protection it offers to Melbourne’s early twentieth-century architecture. While these buildings have long been appreciated by Melburnians, until now they had no protection against being demolished or facaded. Now we can be confident that Melbourne’s early twentieth-century architecture will continue to be an important part of the CBD’s cityscape.
MHA has been lobbying hard, along with other groups, to have the Minister sign off on the list of buildings recommended for heritage protection. Last year we asked you to write letters to the minster asking him to sign off, and we thank those of you who did so. Your support will help to ensure that Melbourne’s CBD remains an architecturally and historically diverse place with  its character and essence now much better protected.

Hoyts Mid-City, photo via The Age

MHA was disappointed to learn that none of the post-war buildings on the original list were given protection – this includes the National Mutual building in Collins St and the Hoyt’s Mid-City Cinemas in Bourke St. These buildings, along with the protected 87, were recommended by an expert panel and we are not sure why the minister feels the need to review these findings himself. We hope it is not motivated purely by his own personal dislike for certain architectural styles. However, we understand that the minister has have asked his department to ‘further consider the heritage merits of ten buildings constructed in the post World War II period’, so we hope that we will soon be able to add these important buildings to the list of those that have a high level of protection.
The Age has a story with more photos of the buildings let off the list http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/cbd-heritage-buildings-denied-protection-20130605-2np7c.html
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