Feature Image: Workers at the Bryant & May match stick factory
The National Trust applauds Heritage Victoria’s decision to refuse a permit application for the construction of two towers 13 and 12 levels high at the state listed Former Bryant & May Industrial Complex in Cremorne. The decision maintains an important precedent regarding the overdevelopment of heritage places seeking highest and best use, rather than protection and enhancement of the cultural heritage significance of a place.
The former Bryant and May Industrial factory complex is one of the finest remnants of Richmond’s industrial heyday and its substantial intactness provides an excellent indication of industrial organisation and design of the early 20th century.
Generally, the National Trust supports the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings to ensure they have an ongoing purpose and remain viable assets to their communities. However, the proposed development would have seen significant change to streetscapes and view lines of the landmark heritage fabric. The proposal for the two towers, including a wedge form, would overwhelm and stand out in stark contrast to the historic factory site.
Importantly in their refusal, Heritage Victoria has commented that “the place has the capacity to absorb new development but not to the extent which is being proposed…The applicant did not provide meaningful alternative of less intensive development for consideration.”
Unfortunately Heritage Victoria’s refusal of this permit does not provide certainty that the proposal will not go ahead. The applicant has applied for a ministerial call-in of the development, which the National Trust objected to in September.
This application has been the latest in a series of proposed overdevelopments at state significant heritage places by developers seeking highest and best use outcomes regardless of the heritage impacts. Most recently the No.2 Goods Shed development, which was refused and appealed at a Heritage Council hearing this year has been called-in by the Minister for Planning. Additionally a permit refusal at the Robur Tea Building has been appealed by the applicant.