Heritage blocks plans

By Meg Hill

The state government’s adoption of new heritage protections has ruled out a $1 billion project for Queen St – the third time plans for the property have been scrapped in six years.

CBUS Australia had submitted a renewed demolition and redevelopment application for three neighbouring properties on August 5, the latest in a back-and-forth process that began in 2013.

CBUS Australia planned to demolish 150 Queen St, 140 Queen St and 27 McKillop St and create temporary open public space while preparing plans for a 55-storey office tower.

But the State Government’s adoption of the Hardware and Guildford Laneways Heritage Amendment only 11 days later placed permanent heritage protection on 140 Queen St as part of a new heritage overlay.

The site had been subject to confusion since a previous owner, CEL Australia, stalled demolition of 150 Queen St in 2013 after a dispute with Colonial Range, which owned neighbouring sites 140 Queen St and 27 McKillop St.

In 2017 both CEL Australia and Colonial Range decided to sell the sites due to protracted legal proceedings and cancelled contracts. 

CBUS Property bought all three sites, applied for a demolition permit and began preparing a proposal for a $1 billion project.

The new planning amendment: 

140 Queen St holds a 15-storey ’60s building that’s been under scrutiny since 2004 when a piece of concrete fell off the façade. 

Originally known as the Scottish Amicable Life Insurance Building, the site is an early example of precast concrete modernism. It was designed by architecture firm Yuncken Freeman – who designed the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and BHP House.

In their application CBUS Australia recognised that, although different bodies accepted the building posed a threat to public safety, there was debate about whether or not it could be restored.

27 McKillop St is currently a single level restaurant and 150 Queen St is home to a 12-storey building that’s been empty and covered in black shade cloth and scaffolding since 2014. 

CBUS Australia didn’t respond to requests by CBD News for comment.

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