Some recent decisions affecting CBD heritage have affirmed that Heritage Victoria (HV) no longer wants to be seen as a rubber stamp – as many involved in heritage activism have thought it had become over the past decade.
Readers of last month’s MHA column will know of Victoria University’s plans to demolish large parts of the Queen Street Titles Office, one of our most intact public buildings, for a 17-storey tower.
While some previous Heritage Victoria decisions gave us concern (it may approve of such drastic changes under the guise of “compromise” between heritage values and commercial or institutional growth), we can gladly now share with readers that HV has agreed with our objections and refused a permit for the plans. Victoria Uni now has to go back to the drawing board, hopefully for a better proposal of adaptive re-use and heritage sensitivity.
Also featured heavily in news coverage this month was HV’s rejection of council plans to remove heritage sheds at the Queen Victoria Market for car park excavation and reinstatement.
The plans would have involved a drastic intervention and potential loss of much of the original timber fabric and construction method of the sheds which, whatever one’s views on the wider market re-development are, was just a step too far from a heritage perspective.
The City of Melbourne now needs to go back to the drawing board as well, and perhaps use Heritage Victoria’s rebuff as a chance to think about a better heritage solution on the Munro Site.
We hope this new-found attitude at Heritage Victoria continues into the future, and we look forward to more proactivism and heritage-positive decisions for our city.