Recently we discovered that the Planning Minister, contrary to normal procedure, has not approved interim protection for the heritage buildings identified in the West Melbourne heritage study, as requested by the City of Melbourne in June. We reported then that the City of Melbourne had approved the heritage listings, and assumed normal procedure would be followed, but the request is still sitting on his desk. At immediate risk is the fine Victorian showroom at 488 La Trobe St (Spinks Tinsmiths factory), identified in the study, where a 18 storey development that would see its demolition was approved by Council officers of the City of Melbourne, who could not take heritage into consideration because of the failure to act by the Minister.
We urge you to write to the Minister, in your own words, to make sure Mr Wynne gets the message that he should act to halt more needless demolition of our heritage. You can use our letter as a template, and send to Mr Wynne at email@example.com , cc to firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter text as follows :
Dear Mr Wynne,
RE : WEST MELBOURNE INTERIM HERITAGE CONTROLS, AMENDMENT C273
Melbourne Heritage Action is extremely concerned that you have not approved Amendment C273 w(and the exhibition of Amendment C272) as per the request of the Future Melbourne Committee put to you over four months ago.
It is normal practice for a Minister to approve such requests; if they are not, places identified are immediately under threat by the more unscrupulous owners who may alter or deface a building with impunity knowing that it is ‘legal’, in order to ensure their property can be redeveloped without heritage ‘restrictions’.
We had hoped that you would not follow the example of your predecessor Mathew Guy, who did not approve interim controls for the ‘98 buildings’ amendment in the CBD (C186), with the result that Rosati’s in Flinders Lane was defaced before it could even be inspected by the Panel, and was then not approved for protection.
In this case, there is one building that is part of C273 that is currently under threat of complete demolition, namely the Victorian era Spinks Tinsmiths factory building at 488-494 La Trobe Street. Because you have not approved C273 (or even C272), the City of Melbourne was unable to consider heritage value when a 18 storey apartment building was proposed that would see total demolition of the building. The proposal was nearly approved, but was instead deferred, which means that it
will most likely be decided at VCAT, where again, the lack of progress on the West Melbourne amendments will mean that again that heritage will not be a consideration.
This situation is very unsatisfactory, not only because it means a heritage building may be demolished, but because normal processes are not being followed, and the work put into identifying heritage places, a required action on the part of local Councils in Victoria, will have been wasted.
We urge you to approve C273 and C272 as soon as possible, and act to save those places in the rapidly changing CBD that are worth saving before it’s too late.
Kind regards, Rohan Storey
Vice -President Melbourne Heritage Action
The proposal went to VCAT in June 2017, and the decision in August was that the proposal was acceptable. Since the building did not have any heritage protection (see the post on the West Melbourne amendment), heritage was not a consideration, and it will be demolished.