City of Melbourne Heritage Policy

CoM Carlton Heritage Review

The City of Melbourne (Carlton) Heritage Review – C405: CRA response April 2023

The Stated Aim:

The City of Melbourne is reviewing heritage in Carlton to better understand the area’s evolution of built and cultural heritage.
The review will uncover, document and celebrate heritage in the area. It will also assess existing heritage buildings and precincts.

The study area includes two distinct precincts: to the south of Grattan Street and to its north. It excludes the University of Melbourne precinct and the World Heritage site including the Exhibition Building, Carlton Gardens and the Melbourne Museum.

The Association’s response –

In the Association’s opinion: For most of Carlton’s Heritage Places it will be impossible to determine, with any precision, the nature of the heritage values to be protected

Read the full response here

The City of Melbourne (Carlton) Heritage Review- C405 October 2022 update

 Carlton Heritage Review [Am C405] Key CRA Concerns v.2

The Exhibition of Am C405 is the fourth, and most recent exhibition of documents concerning the Heritage of Carlton properties. This Carlton Heritage Review had its beginnings with Community Engagement in March/April 2015. The initial stages of the review involved ALL Heritage properties in the City of Melbourne; it involved TWO formal Exhibition periods, and culminated in the Gazettal of Am C258 on 10 July 2020.

In the Association’s view this Gazettal of Am C258 marked the beginning of a more comprehensive assessment of those heritage places located in Carlton [as outlined in the Government’s Practice Note 1 – Applying the Heritage Overlay].

In the Association’s view, there is little correspondence between the expectations of this Practice Note and the outcomes promoted by the City of Melbourne. More particularly, this Practice Note clearly states that the thresholds to be applied in the assessment of significance shall be ‘State Significance’ and ‘Local Significance’. ‘Local Significance’ includes those places that are important to a particular community or locality.

  • The Carlton Heritage Review has provided NO evidence to indicate whether those heritage places that were previously assessed to be of State Significance [the former ‘A’ graded places not on the Victorian Heritage Register] continue to satisfy the State Significance threshold.
  • Further, while the Practice Note has emphasised the importance of Statements of Significance as the key tool in specifying the ‘how’ and ‘why’ a heritage place is significant; the Carlton Heritage Review has delivered LESS than forty Statements of Significance for Carlton; and many of these concern small precincts that include several individual heritage places. Given that the Carlton Heritage Overlay 1 includes approximately 580 significant heritage places [Council’s Pt B Submission p 25] the Carlton community has been left with a serious shortfall of the key assessment tool.
  • It gets worse. About 62% of the 1510 graded heritage places recorded in the Heritage Places Inventory [Pt A] will possess even less heritage protection on account of their Contributory Status. From the Council’s perspective, Contributory Heritage Places have NO individual significance. Accordingly, these places will never be provided with a Statement of Significance [a key planning tool in assessing planning applications in Heritage Overlays. See MPS Cl 43.01-8].

While the CRA accepts that the Council and the State Government can approve a new Heritage Category that doesn’t satisfy ANY of the established heritage criteria required to meet the Local Significance threshold, it must be recognised that this new heritage category carries little more status than a character place. Although the revised Local Heritage Policy suggests that Contributory Heritage Places do have some status; given that the community and planning officials will have no precise information concerning ‘how’ and ‘why’ these places contribute to the heritage of a precinct, this new heritage regime provides a very fragile basis for making key heritage decisions.

Apart from the Planning Practice Note [cited above] the other key heritage guidance document is the Burra Charter [the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter, 2013]. According to this Charter, the Conservation of a place should identify and take into consideration all aspects of cultural and natural significance without unwarranted emphasis on any one value at the expense of others. Article 5. Values: 5.1 [emphasis added]. Earlier, in Article 1. Definitions [Burra Charter] at 1.2 these values are listed: Cultural significance means aesthetic, historic, scientific, social or spiritual value for past, present or future generations.

While this Charter emphasises the importance of considering ALL aspects of cultural and natural significance, for most of Carlton’s heritage places the Council has provided no evidence to the community to demonstrate that this expectation has been satisfied. Throughout the early stages of this Heritage Review the Council has emphasised that the Carlton Heritage Review ‘is a conversion of the heritage gradings only and not a new

heritage assessment of all listed properties.’ [Officer Report to FMC Meeting 21 November 2017]. This claim never made any sense to the Association as:

  • The Heritage Consultant confirmed that the conversion process for most of Carlton’s Heritage Places required a review of these places, and
  • The Panel Report, released following the Am. C258 Hearings, acknowledged that the re-grading methodology did involve a partial merits assessment of most of Carlton’s Heritage Places

Of necessity, the assessment of thousands of heritage places undertaken during the Am C258 Heritage Review was an initial, and partial, assessment of these places. From an examination of Lovell Chen’s Grading Conversion Excel Spreadsheet [July 2018], it is clear that the consultant’s major focus was upon the visual attributes of those places subject to review. Since the Council has refused to release an updated version of this Spreadsheet to the community, this Association has no way of knowing what, if any, further assessment work was undertaken in relation to the hundreds of heritage places initially assessed as Contributory Places.

In the Association’s oral presentation to the Am C405 Panel Hearing, we also expressed concern that buildings constructed in the last decades of the twentieth century could achieve a significant grading on aesthetic grounds alone. That two educational buildings [one RMIT and one University of Melbourne] could achieve heritage status without reference to any of the other important heritage criteria [eg technical significance and research potential] was concerning. If neither of these educational buildings reflected best practice in educational planning or introduced important environmental initiatives, how could they possibly justify a heritage grading?

Ewan Ogilvy
19 October 2022

The full CRA submission to the Carlton Heritage Review C405 is available here

Useful references:

The City of Melbourne Heritage Review December 2021 update.

Heritage Places Inventory March 2018 to November 2021 – Carlton

Carlton, North Carlton and Princes Hill – Conservation Study 1984

City of Melbourne Heritage Strategy 2013

MELBOURNE PLANNING SCHEME C198 -City North Heritage Review 2013 Statements of Significance (Revised June 2015)

Applying the Heritage Overlay- Planning Practice Note 1 August 2018

THE BURRA CHARTER – The Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance 2013

Heritage Policy Review

The outcome of this Review could have a major impact on your home or street.
The resulting relevant Planning Scheme Amendment is C258.

 The CRA prepared and presented a comprehensive submission identifying numerous
omissions, errors and inconsistencies. The CRA submissions are below.

CRA_Supplementary Submission wrt Heritage Places Inventory [19 Jan 2018]
Read CRA Submission (May 2017) here

Heritage Policy Review -CRA Submission 3 February 2016

Research the history of your house:

Click here to find out more about this free service offered by the City of Melbourne Library Service at your local Library, Kathleen Syme.

National Trust Advocacy Toolkit

A free online resource created by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) to support individuals and communities to advocate for the protection of places of cultural heritage significance.
Currently five guides have been producedAccess the toolkit at:

Carlton Inn/Corkman

Read CRA Submission to Amendment C320
Past information Working Group to Resurrect the Corkman 2 December 2016
Stakeholder Summit minutes 23/11/2016    21/10/2016