We have prepared a Statement of Grounds for an upcoming VCAT hearing to determine whether an 8-10 storey apartment tower should be constructed atop a pair of significant nineteenth-century terrace houses in Fitzroy, known as ‘Salisbury Place’. The terraces border the UNESCO World Heritage site Royal Exhibition Building & Carlton Gardens on the Nicholson Street site, and are included within the World Heritage Environs Area buffer zone (WHEA). The purpose of the buffer zone is to protect significant views and vistas towards and from the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens; to maintain and conserve the significant historic character of the area; and to ensure new development in the area has regard to the prominence and visibility of the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. While the original permit application was refused by Yarra Council, prompting the VCAT appeal, revised plans have now been submitted to the Tribunal which will be the subject of a four day hearing beginning on 23 October.
Our key concerns regarding the application can be summaried in the following four points:
- The potential impact of the proposed apartment building on view lines to and from UNESCO World Heritage Site Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens and within the World Heritage Environs Area;
- The potential impact of the proposed apartment building on the highly intact heritage streetscape of Nicholson Street and within the wider South Fitzroy Historic Area;
- The heritage impact of the proposed demolition on the rear wings and outbuildings of the terrace houses, particularly the structure identified as the former ‘stables’, and;
- The proposed internal alteration and ‘remodeling’ of the retained front portion of the terrace houses.
In our submission we argued that the proposed retention of the front portion of the terraces did not mitigate the significant negative heritage impacts that will result from the proposed demolition of the rear wings and outbuildings, and the construction of a high-rise apartment tower. Based on the proximity to Carlton Gardens, and for its inclusion within the WHEA, we strongly argued that if the plans were approved in their current form, it would set a precedent for future inappropriate development within the WHEA. We further argued that the incremental impact of inappropriate developments within the WHEA would irrevocably undermine the cultural heritage significance of the WHS and the identified character of its predominately nineteenth-century setting.
The application has angered local residents, including the Friends of the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, who have voiced concerns about the erosion of heritage values in the internationally significant World Heritage Environs Area.
To read our Statement of Grounds in full, please click here.