New information could save heritage

By David Schout

A last-ditch effort to save a 1940s office building on Little Bourke St has succeeded, after the state government afforded it temporary heritage protection.

Chart House, a “representative example of an interwar office building”, was overlooked in a recent heritage review of the Guildford and Hardware Lane areas in the CBD.

But since the study concluded, Melbourne Heritage Action Group (MHA) brought forward information that proved the building was of historical significance.

Specifically, the original study said the building’s unique windows were not original. 

MHA then revealed evidence to the contrary to the City of Melbourne, who will now put the building to an independent panel which will decide whether to afford it a permanent heritage overlay.

MHA vice president Rohan Storey detailed the mix-up in a heritage column in the September edition of CBD News.

“The study erroneously labelled Chart House as non-contributory to the heritage streetscape,” he wrote.

“MHA has provided evidence proving the building is intact and built earlier than the study found, which has subsequently been accepted.”

Mr Storey described Chart House as a “unique 1940s building with its original shopfronts and early modernist design”.

Heritage portfolio chair Rohan Leppert said at a recent council meeting that while the council was pleased the building may be added to the heritage register, the timing was problematic. 

“The problem is that new information that arose about Chart House came after we went through the statutory process to assess the heritage significance of all the buildings within the study area,” he said.

“That was an incredibly difficult decision because we had already gone through the process.”

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