A History of Heritage Advocacy
Read more about the National Trust’s historic advocacy campaigns
In 2017, The Andrews Labor Government announced that tech giant Apple had finalised a deal to demolish the Yarra Building, the main built structure at Federation Square and the home of many of Melbourne’s cultural institutions and events, to make way for their new retail store. The deal was made with Federation Square management, without public consultation or any long-term plan for the future of this culturally significant place.
The National Trust spearheaded the campaign for Federation Square’s protection by nominating the place to the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR), in order to recognise the site as a place of historical, architectural, aesthetic and social significance, and protect the cultural values it embodies.
We submitted the nomination following 12 months of consultation with heritage and architectural experts, who collaboratively determined the heritage values of Federation Square were worth protecting.
Following a long campaign with support from community advocacy group, Citizens for Melbourne, Federation Square was included in the VHR in 2019 and afforded statutory protection under the Heritage Act.
Our key aim in nominating Federation Square to the VHR was always to ensure that its heritage values would be protected in any future development process.
We did not oppose commercial activation and development at Federation Square which would respect its cultural and architectural significance. However, Apple’s proposal fell far short of meeting these aims.
The nomination of Federation Square to the VHR provided a vital opportunity to reflect on its cultural and architectural significance to the state, as well as its civic role and function.
It also brought the government to the discussion table. In 2019, the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions commissioned a consultation to inform a review of Federation Square’s operating model. The review outlined community and stakeholder consultation findings, which reinforced the view of the National Trust that the role and purpose of Federation Square needs to be strategic, city focused, and civic minded into the future.
Our actions have ensured that the community have a voice in the management and planning of Federation Square, and that this place will be protected for future generations.
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