Featured image: Render of proposed development at 204-208 Albert Street (Jackson Clements Burrows)
In May, we joined the City of Melbourne, the East Melbourne Group and a number of local residents to challenge a 9-storey office building proposed for 204-208 Albert Street, East Melbourne, the site of a 1859 two-storey terrace row which is recognised as a contributory place within a significant streetscape in the Melbourne Planning Scheme.
The property is also located to the rear of the National Trust-owned Clarendon Terrace, located at 208-212 Clarendon Street. Clarendon Terrace is row of three two-storey terraces designed by architect Osgood Pritchard and constructed in 1856-57, which is architecturally and aesthetically significant to the state of Victoria as one of Melbourne’s grandest terraces, and features a rare giant order Corinthian portico. It is included in the Victorian Heritage Register, with the Statement of Significance noting that it is an outstanding feature of the East Melbourne area. The National Trust acquired Clarendon Terrace in 1977, following a community outcry about its proposed demolition. The site was subsequently restored, and remains emblematic of the preservation movement in Victoria, and the National Trust’s role as a protector and custodian of Victoria’s heritage. The site is currently leased to Her Place Museum.
At the hearing, the National Trust and other parties argued that the scale of the proposed development grossly exceeded the recommended sight line in the planning scheme, and didn’t respect the existing scale and character of the precinct. We argued that the development would have an adverse impact on the heritage streetscapes of Albert and Clarendon Streets, as well as the broader heritage precinct protected in the Melbourne planning scheme under the East Melbourne & Jolimont Precinct (HO2).
The Tribunal, chaired by Member Glynn, affirmed the decision of the City of Melbourne to not grant a permit for the development, finding that “the combined heritage and design directions for this site require a significantly lower building that can better respect the heritage streetscape of Albert Street and its broader heritage and urban design context.” In summing up their decision, VCAT referred to the submissions of the National Trust:
As put by the National Trust, while some change has occurred in HO2 area, the Clarendon and Albert Street streetscapes, as they relate to the subject site, have a high level of integrity and demonstrate the State significant values identified in the precinct statement of significance and intended to be protected under both State and local planning policy. The proposed development is out of step with the existing scale and character of adjoining buildings and the area, which is a matter contrary to both the DDO20 and HO2 provisions applying to the land.
Click here to read the VCAT decision in full.