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Fosters’ Melbourne Apple store faces heritage listing hurdle

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Foster + Partners’ contested plans for an Apple store in Melbourne’s iconic Federation Square could face another hurdle after a key heritage body put the public plaza forward for protected status

The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) nominated the square for inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register to recognise the site as a place of historical, architectural, aesthetic and social significance to the state.

Heritage Victoria is now assessing the nomination and will provide a recommendation to the Heritage Council of Victoria, which will make a final decision.

Should it agree to place the square on the register, any future development likely to impact its heritage would require permission from Heritage Victoria.

The nomination comes after a 12-month consultation – and was brought forward in light of planned changes to the plaza.

Foster + Partners last month revealed amended plans for the Apple Store in the square following a raft of criticism of earlier designs including claims that the original scheme resembled a ‘Pizza Hut pagoda’.

Earlier this year local politicians in Melbourne urged the Victoria state parliament to withdraw planning permission for the scheme.

National Trust of Australia (Victoria) chief executive Simon Ambrose this month said the body was committed to saving places of significance and that Federation Square had come to be highly valued by the community.

‘With significant changes proposed at Federation Square, we have fast-tracked our nomination to ensure there is a coordinated approach which takes into account the architectural and cultural significance of this important place,’ he said.

‘While our nomination is being processed, we also urge Fed Square Pty Ltd to prepare a masterplan, subject to a process of public consultation, as a matter of urgency to guide any future development at the site.

‘Federation Square is one of our finest examples of 21st Century architecture, and it has become a place where the people of Victoria and visitors can celebrate our history, diversity, identity and culture.’

Foster + Partners’ new design features a public balcony and solar power roof, and will provide 500m² of new public space, with outdoor shading and improved connections between the square and the Yarra River.

Campaign group Citizens for Melbourne arguing the new design merely ’swaps a Pizza Hut pagoda for an oversized iPad’.

It doesn’t matter how many times Apple redesigns its megastore, Federation Square is still the wrong place

Campaign president Tania Davidge said: ‘It doesn’t matter how many times Apple redesigns its megastore, Federation Square is still the wrong place for an Apple Store.’

Jonathan Tribe, CEO of Fed Square Pty Ltd, the piazza’s management vehicle, said the flagship store was ’consistent with Federations Square’s Civic and Cultural Charter, which recognises Melbourne’s pre-eminence as a centre for creativity and innovation.’

The Apple store is expected to open in late 2020. 

Postscript - comment from the City of Melbourne:

[We are] aware of an application seeking formal heritage recognition of Melbourne’s Federation Square.

The Minister for Planning is the entity responsible for planning approvals in connection with the proposed development of the Apple Flagship Store on the Federation Square site.

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