Guildford Lane under threat

Melbourne Heritage Action is calling on the City of Melbourne to make Guildford Lane, and the buildings facing the lane, a heritage precinct. We have written to the City of Melbourne requesting that this precinct be given protection – our letter here Nomination of Guildford Lane as an HO precinct (pdf).
There is currently a threat to the integrity of this small area, it is a unique part of Melbourne and is worthy of  heritage protection.
View up Guildford Lane.
View up Guildford Lane.
MHA identified this area as one of three worthy of examination (with a view to heritage listing) as part of our laneway campaign in 2012. Further research on the area reveals that the Guildford Lane precinct has been recommended for heritage protection twice before.

Guildford Lane

This area is a unique ‘lanescape’. The industrial buildings facing a laneway within a city block have a remarkable uniformity. All except one date from the 1880s to the 1920s, almost all are red brick, and all are remarkably intact.

It is a precinct of obvious significance, but one that has only even been protected by a height limit, not a heritage overlay. It has remained intact, despite this lack of protection, until now. There is currently a proposal that would see a pair of 1920s red brick warehouses replaced with a seven-storey brown brick and glass block residential development, which would dominate and  undermine the character and significance of the precinct.

Map of the Guildford Lane precinct.
Map of the Guildford Lane precinct.

Guildford Lane never gained heritage protection because heritage precincts in the CBD have not been reviewed since their first establishment in the early 1980s, when they focussed on protecting concentrations of notable facades on the main streets. Laneways were respected, but only for their provision of pedestrian ‘permeability’ rather than for their character. The plainer industrial buildings, which often existed along laneways, and the backs
and sides of older buildings that form what could be called ‘lanescapes’, were not assessed as significant.

In the last decade, the regard for ‘lanescapes’ has changed completely. They have become one of the most highly-valued assets of the city. The time to act is now if we are to protect these wonderful, low scale, intimate places and spaces that are so characteristic of something that is unique to Melbourne’s CBD.

Further detail can be found in the following documents.
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