Fed Square heritage listing threatens Melbourne projects

Fed Square heritage listing threatens Melbourne projects

3 August 2018

Melbourne’s Federation Square will be assessed for heritage protection in a move that could have implications for the $11-billion Metro Tunnel train project and plans for a controversial new Apple store, reports The Urban Developer.

The National Trust of Australia submitted the nomination to Heritage Victoria after 12 months of consultation with heritage and architectural experts who determined the heritage values of Federation Square are worth protecting.

The accelerated submission comes in the wake of the Victorian government’s decision to demolish the Yarra Building, which houses the Koorie Heritage Trust, to make way for a flagship Apple retail.

Following wide-spread backlash to the original proposal, Apple released new designs for the store last month.

As well as the Apple flagship, which is expected to open in late 2020, the proposed heritage overlay could possibly affect a new entrance for the Town Hall Metro Tunnel station, the designs for which were unveiled in May, planned for the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets.

Tania Davidge, from advocacy group Our City, Our Square, said it was “a really interesting turn of events”.

“I think the nomination for the heritage register allows us to take stock and to really think hard about what Federation Square means to all of us,” Ms Davidge told The New Daily.

“If the government won’t recognise Fed Square’s importance, I hope Heritage Victoria does.”

She said the Town Hall metro station design could be integrated better with the site.

Tourism Minister John Eren vowed the “unprecedented” application would not stand in the way of construction for the Metro Tunnel, which will include a new station entrance at Federation Square, near the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets, ABC News reports.

“It would be unprecedented to heritage list a site that is only 16 years old, and to do so could lead to significant implications for future projects,” Mr Eren said.

“This will not stop us delivering the Metro Tunnel and other vital projects that are good for Melbourne and good for jobs.”

The Victorian branch of the National Trust of Australia lodged the nomination for Federation Square to be included on the Victorian Heritage Register on July 20.

Heritage Victoria has now accepted the nomination for assessment and applied an interim protection order to the area of the square which will be demolished to make way for the new train station entrance.

If the square is included on the register, it could also affect plans to demolish the Yarra Building for a new flagship Apple store.

The tech giant released new designs for its Melbourne concept store last month, following a public backlash to the original design, which some dubbed a ‘Pizza Hut pagoda’.