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Caydon Property Group lodge new heritage permits to redevelop the Richmond Maltings site

The National Trust has made a detailed submission to Heritage Victoria this week in response to two new permit applications lodged by Caydon Property Group in their bid to redevelop the Richmond Maltings Complex, a site which demonstrates high architectural, historical, social and scientific significance, and is classified on the Victorian Heritage Register. As outlined on our blog back in November, there are currently multiple live permit applications currently under assessment at various levels of the Victorian Planning Scheme. These new permit applications, split into Stage 1 and Stage 2, are a revision on those submitted previously, detailing an amended concept plan for the site in its entirety.

To summarise, the dual permit applications seek to undertake the following:

…demolition of the 1928 and 1903 Malt House walls, the 1952 Drum Malt House, the 1956 and later Malt House and the 1939-40 Barley Store buildings.

Partial demolition, alterations, additions and conservation works to the 1922 Office Building, the 1930, 1880 and 1920 Malt Houses and the 1952 and 1960 Concrete Silos.

New construction including towers of 12 and 15 storeys on a 3 level podium, a tiered tower of 8-15 storeys, and a central tower stepping up from 9 to 14 storeys, with associated services and landscaping, and the restored Nylex Sign to be re positioned on the extended silos.

To read the Heritage Impact Statement prepared by Lovell Chen, click here. To view the Visual Amenity Analysis, click here. For a site plan and further background information, click here.

While the National Trust is generally supportive of Caydon’s proposal to adapatively re-use and reactivate the Richmond Maltings Complex (insofar as the use of a heritage place is vastly preferred over neglect), we still have a series of concerns relating specifically to the iconic 1960s concrete silos, including the proposed height limits of the two new towers to be located to the west and south of the site, the addition to the top of the retained concrete silos and the lifting of the Nylex sign.

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As shown: the cylinders to be retained (orange), the addition to the top of the retained silos (red), and the two new buildings proposed to sandwich in the retained heritage fabric (purple and pink)

As illustrated above, Caydon has proposed to retain 9 out of 16 concrete drums rather that undertaking full demolition, representing quite a significant compromise in terms of financial return for the developers. While the National Trust would prefer that the silos be retained in their entirety, we are generally supportive of this compromise, primarily on the basis that it has been proposed that the retained drums are conserved in their current state and converted into an interpretation space that is open and accessible to the general public. As noted in the Lovell Chen Heritage Impact Statement (pg. 57):

‘In pursuing this design it is proposed that the retained silo cylinders and the attached elevator core will be retained without external intervention, thereby ensuring that the industrial aesthetic of the structure is maintained. While not finalised at this time, the intention is that the interior of one or more of the cylinders will be adapted for interpretation purposes and that the cylinders as a whole will be treated as a public place and space. They will be linked to the other heritage buildings on the site in telling the maltings story and illustrating the process.’

To mediate the balance between demolition, retention and positive heritage outcomes, this proposal would need to be a nonnegotiable requirement firmly embedded in the permit conditions.

To read our detailed submission in full, click here. While the National Trust commends Caydon for incorporating various compromises and positive mitigation outcomes in their new vision for the site (such as interpretation, conservation, landscaping and photographic recording), overall we still have various concerns regarding the proposed level of demolition versus new infrastructure, and believe the plans should be further mediated before progressing further.

Do you believe this is a fair compromise? Comment below.

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The 1960s Nylex silos as they appear today, versus Caydon’s vision for the site which includes the demolition of 7 out of 16 drums and the construction of two new residential towers.

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