Heritage issues in the spotlight

By Laurence Dragomir

Earlier this year, the City of Melbourne received an application for a development at 124-130 Russell St which would see the existing Theosophical Society building make way for a 13-storey hotel above two basement levels.

The existing structure dates back to 1923 but was marketed during 2017 as having no heritage protection.

Beyond the initial submission, a change of application has been noted for the intended development via council’s planning register.

In an attempt to prevent the loss of further heritage fabric within the CBD, the City of Melbourne has sought to introduce an interim heritage overlay at 263-267 William St. This is in response to an application to develop a tower above what is currently the Metropolitan Hotel.

During October last year an application was lodged to develop a commercial office tower atop the hotel. The application’s status in now on hold, although plans for a tower might still eventuate.

Unlike the Theosophical Society building, the Metropolitan Hotel was identified as having individual heritage significance via City of Melbourne reviews, yet carries no heritage overlay.

Within the report to the Future Melbourne (Heritage) Committee, heritage consultants Context cited the building as “having local historical and social significance to the City of Melbourne as ‘a representative example of a corner hotel building from the interwar period’ and in terms of use and typology is becoming rare in the central city.”

Architecture firm Peddle Thorp’s initial scheme involved the partial demolition of the Metropolitan Hotel and construction of an office tower above it. Spanning approximately 80 metres, the tower would accommodate 16 levels of commercial office space with a single basement level and a reinstated hotel at ground level.

Should the tower proceed it is possible that a setback to William St will be included as part of a redesign.

Last month also saw the unveiling of the latest round of renders for the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project’s five stations, which will likely continue to evolve and be refined to respond to the construction methodology and stakeholder feedback.

The team of architects, which comprises and is led by local firm Hassell includes international offices Weston Williamson and Rogers Stirk Harbour who were brought in following Cross Yarra Partnership’s successful bid for the stations.

The design team cites passenger experience as “the heart of our design” with the stations designed to “open up to fresh air and natural light”.

And finally, last month we published a piece on Urban.com.au highlighting Australia’s projected future tallest buildings, a snippet of Melbourne’s two tallest under construction within the Hoddle Grid.

Far East Consortium’s second Melbourne development has begun rising on the city’s western edge, continuing the transformation of the once-maligned Spencer St.

The first stage which comprises two towers will feature the development’s tallest tower comprising apartments and Melbourne’s first Ritz Carlton hotel. The first core is already visible, while the second is currently being formed.

Shifting to the CBD’s northern quadrant, builder Probuild last month announced that the core for UEM Sunrise’s Aurora Melbourne Central development had surpassed the height of Melbourne Central’s antennae.

Upon completion, the 84-storey edifice will join the growing number of skyscrapers within the CBD’s northern fringe and in the process become the tallest tower within the Hoddle Grid.

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