Feature image: Proposed redevelopment by Snøhetta
We have objected to a planning application which proposes to demolish the existing building at 1-9 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy and replace it with a new five-storey development.
While we don’t object to the demolition of the existing building, which is graded as non-contributory within the Heritage Overlay, the site is located within the World Heritage Environs Area (WHEA), which provides the setting for the Royal Exhibition Building & Carlton Gardens World Heritage Site. We argue that the proposed building would dominate protected views to the Royal Exhibition Building, particularly along Gertrude Street and Marion Lane.
Gertrude Street is one of the most important, intact, and sensitive areas in the WHEA. The area, including the subject site, is described in the Statement of Significance for the area:
… Gertrude Street, extending east from the REB site between Nicholson and Fitzroy Streets, is an important approach to the REB and Carlton Gardens and provides oblique views of the REB, particularly the drum, dome, lantern and flagpole, from the south side. The Cable Tram which ran along Gertrude Street from the 1880s encouraged commercial development, and much of this survives. Gertrude Street is now a largely intact streetscape of two-storey shops and other commercial buildings, as well as terraces, from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with some modestly-scaled infill, mostly on the north side.
The proposed building, at five-storeys, would contrast with the low-scale, primarily two-storey development that characterises the streetscape, competing with the state heritage listed cable engine house and Royal Terrace.
This current planning application highlights the urgent need for clearer guidance in the planning scheme on new development in the WHEA. The World Heritage Management Plan for the REB&CG is currently underway, including a review of the WHEA Strategy Plan. We’ve strongly called on the City of Yarra to play an active role in advocating for the strengthening of planning controls within the WHEA, and committing to the preparation of detailed design guidelines for new developments — such as 1-9 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy — to provide greater clarity and certainty for property owners and the community.
Read our full submission here. The planning application is due to be considered by the City of Yarra in early 2021.