Only a handful of our grandest interiors, including the main theatres, churches, government buildings (such as GPO and Town Hall), and, a few commerical ones (such as Manchester Unity and Royal Arcade) are protected by the Victorian Heritage Register. Protection of interiors in the CBD has fallen through the cracks, there are far too many buildings that are not significant enough to be listed on the VHR (see our ‘About Planning and Heritage’ section for more on this), but which are of considerable local significance. Most interiors in Melbourne have no protection at all (even where the facade has a heritage listing) because local controls are outdated. These interiors are all vital to the character of our city, and should be protected by the City of Melbourne. Instead they have has fallen behind other councils by not listing a single heritage interior and only focusing on street facades, despite having the power to protect ‘outstanding’ examples.
MHA has been concerned about the lack of protection for interiors in Melbourne since our group formed in 2011. In 2014 this concern was sadly realised when the City of Melbourne dragged its feet on listing the interiors of the Palace Theatre, which meant the owner was within their legal rights to order them to be severely damaged. Below are our top 15 unprotected interiors – you can see a photo gallery of more here.
If you know of any great interiors we might not know about behind locked doors, let us know.