Taking the “D” out of demolition

By Tristan Davies

The City of Melbourne last month voted to adopt two very important guidelines for heritage. 

After years of debate, a new system of grading will be finally be implemented on all heritage buildings across the city, with a building now either “contributory” to a heritage precinct or “significant” in its own right. 

This replaced an outdated system of grading all heritage buildings with an A,B,C or D level of significance, often using simplified and outdated methodology, which over the years has seen so many “D-graded” buildings demolished by developers who have been able to argue that the lowest grading out of four must mean little worth. 

The wording of “contributory” for anything previously graded B,C or D evens this out and using much more nuanced language too will see the “D for demolition” finally become a thing of the past, after the loss of so much contributory heritage in the city.

Some fanastic new visual guidelines are also set to be adopted too, with illustrations educating building owners, developers and members of the public about the distinctions in heritage protection, clear guidelines for additions and restorations, setbacks for towers from the street and how to better design infill buildings in heritage streetscapes. 

One clear win in the new visual guidelines is a clear rejection of the wrong kinds of developments seen in the city in the past few years where “saving” a heritage building might only involve keeping one wall of it, or plonking a tower directly on top of it.

This is the first time a whole set of guidelines and simple explanations for the heritage process have been made public by the City of Melbourne in one document; a great step for accessibility for the public in an often Byzantine system.

As Melbourne continues to grow, these guidelines are essential if we want to maintain all the things we love about where we live.

Check our our website: melbourneheritage.org.au for links to both amendments.

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