The Heritage Council of Victoria has rejected a recommendation by the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria to include Stage 1 of the Eastern Freeway in the Victorian Heritage Register.
The National Trust supported the Executive Director’s recommendation on the basis of an extensive assessment of the Eastern Freeway Stage 1 Bridges prepared for the Trust in 2006, which found the bridges and other elements of the Eastern Freeway to be significant at a State level for scientific, technical, historical, and aesthetic reasons.
Following a hearing in August, the Heritage Council found that while there is no principle that should preclude a freeway from being assessed for its cultural heritage significance:
So far as being of State significance as a fine example of a freeway illustrating features of freeways in general or freeways of its time, the Heritage Council considers that Stage One (and the subsequent stages) does not allow the design and development of freeways to be understood better than other freeways in Victoria with the same historical associations. It is found that the design of the Place should be merely considered to be one part a continuum of freeway design and development that continues to evolve.
The Heritage Council found that none of the assessment Criteria for heritage significance were met at State level.
Read an account of the hearing and the full Heritage Council decision here.
Image: 1976, Belford Road Bridge, prior to the opening of the Eastern Freeway – Stage One, courtesy National Archives of Australia.