City of Melbourne Review of Heritage Guidelines

The City of Melbourne is starting the process of reviewing its heritage guidelines. This is very important for the CBD, as the current guidelines are extremely short and unspecific. they simply state that a Conservation Management Plan should be done (which they rarely are in practice, and are done by the developer anyway, which of course always says everything about the development is OK!). The only thing they do state clearly is that ‘façadism’ is not acceptable, though exactly what constitutes façadism is not defined.
Should facadism like this be allowed?Art Deco carpark facade tacked onto the new Westpac building in Lt Collins St.
Should facadism like this be allowed?Art Deco car park facade tacked onto the new Westpac building in Lt Collins St.
Another problem both in the CBD and residential areas is the gradings system (A, B C, D). Under this system a low score is always used to argue that demolition is OK, so D-graded buildings (like the Palace Theatre) are not safe. There is now a suggestion to do away with gradings altogether – buildings are either protected, or they are not, and all heritage places would (probably) all be treated equally. MHA strongly supports this position as we feel it is one that will ensure that all buildings are equally protected – it means that the ‘quality’ of the façade (usually the basis for the grading) would not influence its fate as strongly. This is especially important for industrial buildings within precincts, which are usually graded C or D, or even ungraded!
Bluestone paving and red bricjk industrial buildings - how do we preserve the grittier side of Melbourne's heritage?
Bluestone paving and red bricjk industrial buildings – how do we preserve the grittier side of Melbourne’s heritage?
We will be making an extensive submission, covering things such as: how much to keep if the rear is demolished (and in what circumstances should this be allowed); how to prevent the complete gutting of buildings when interiors should be preserved; how big and how setback rooftop additions should be; how much a new building can cantilever over an old one (and whether they ever should); whether restoration should be mandatory as part of extensive redevelopments; and, asking for controls over other elements that currently have no protection such as laneway façade, bluestone guttering, old signs, lamps and horse troughs, and shop fronts.
We welcome your feedback, and will be posting these questions over the next few months on our Facebook page.
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5 thoughts on “City of Melbourne Review of Heritage Guidelines

  1. We really should look seriously at the English heritage grading system: it is clearly a much stronger code and has enabled an impressive level of protection of significant areas of London and other UK cities.

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  2. If Heritage Groups want to restrict what other people want to do to maximize the use and value of their properties then they should fork out their own money and buy these sites and preserve them themselves.
    It is easy to demand preservation when someone else to bears the loss.

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    1. Actually there are funds made available for the restoration of heritage buildings – see for instance the heritage restoration fund (http://www.vhrf.org.au/).

      Also our view, and the view of many people, is that there are things like buildings and landscapes that are not automatically ours to change or demolish. Instead, they are held in trust for future generations. A good city is not one where each property owner is free to simply pursue profit, a good city needs good planning so that we maintain amenity for everyone.

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