ABC News published the following article this week.

PHOTO: City of Melbourne council has earmarked the Hoyts Mid City building on Bourke St for heritage protection. (ABC News: Nicole Mills)

Melbourne’s beautiful Victorian-era buildings are widely appreciated as some of the city’s most valuable assets — but that was not always the case.

Decades ago, debate raged about whether Victorian architecture was worth saving at all.

These days it is Melbourne’s post-war buildings that are in the crosshairs, with homes from the 1950s and ’60s at the centre of a debate around which architectural styles are worthy of protection.

So, is it time for the community’s understanding of what is considered a ‘heritage’ building to evolve?

National Trust Victoria advocacy manager Felicity Watson thinks so.

 

PHOTO: Fiona Austin founded the community group Beaumaris Modern to foster appreciation of mid-century architecture. (Supplied: Fiona Austin)

“We have done large surveys which say that our community values the character of the area in which they live and the heritage is something that they really value.

“The reason that people move into an area is because they like the architectural style [and] we certainly have a lot of people that want to live in our area.”

Beaumaris Modern is trying to take matters into their own hands by matching sympathetic house hunters with mid-century modern properties.

Ms Austin said at least one local real estate agent had embraced the niche market.

“He has a database of over 100 people who want to buy a mid-century house in Beaumaris, so he goes to them before they go on the market and often just matches people with their houses,” she said.

Modern additions to Melbourne’s heritage listings

The City of Melbourne has just released an audit of heritage listings across the CBD.

Greens councillor Rohan Leppert described the 2,000-page Hoddle Grid Heritage Review as “the mother of all audits”, unprecedented in scale in Victoria.

The review considered increasing heritage protection for 64 properties and six precincts within the grid — including some from the post-war period.

The City is now seeking permission from the Planning Minister to formally exhibit the Planning Scheme amendment C328, which proposes permanent heritage protection for properties identified in the review.

PHOTO: The Lyceum Club in Ridgway Place may also be heritage-listed by the City of Melbourne. (ABC News: Nicole Mills)

Cr Leppert said he was surprised many of the buildings had not been granted heritage protection already but said heritage was a “tricky issue”.

“We need to really carefully measure the social heritage of a place, the architectural heritage [and] the scarcity of particular types of buildings,” he said

Cr Leppert said the review had looked at post-war and post-modern buildings including the Hoyts Mid City complex in the Bourke St Mall and the Lyceum Club in Ridgway Place.

“The Hoyts Mid City complex is maybe not what Melburnians typically think of as something worthy of heritage protection but it is quite a remarkable building,” he said.

“The Lyceum Club is not a building that people might necessarily think is a standout piece of architecture.

“But it is something that we think has remarkable social and architectural heritage and is quite unique in the way it came about, so we’re seeking protection for that building as well.”

Cr Leppert said there would always be competing interests between development and heritage protection — especially on the most expensive land in the state.

He hopes the public will embrace mid-century architecture as an important part of the city’s history.

“I think public heritage values do change over time and we’re having a fascinating debate publicly about that at the moment.”