Fitzroyalty

Hyperlocal news about Melbourne's first suburb: Fitzroy 3065

The FRA, the Hub and the City of Yarra

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The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens gained World Heritage listing in 2004 and the state government is currently seeking submissions on a draft management proposal.

The redevelopment proposal for the Hub on Nicholson St, across the road from the Royal Exhibition Building, has been contested for more than a year.

The building is within the World Heritage Environs Area buffer zone – see the World Heritage Environs Area Strategy Plan Part 1 (1958kb pdf).

Despite this, the idea proposed by the Fitzroy Residents Association, to have the facade of the building restored to its original 1850s state as part of the redevelopment, has not been accepted or endorsed by the City of Yarra or the state government and has become central to the controversy about the redevelopment.

The FRA forced the City of Yarra to insist that the developer undertake this restoration if a feasibility study suggested it was realistic to do so (266kb pdf). The results of the feasibility study are contested by all parties.

A subsequent peer review of the feasibility study is being kept secret by the City of Yarra for reasons that escape me. Presumably because it makes them look bad. They fought off a freedom of information application from the FRA to release it into the public domain.

All parties are now in conflict with each other – the council with the developer, the developer with the FRA and the FRA with council. The Melbourne Times Weekly reports on the details.

The FRA is obviously in favour of heritage protection and claims to be acting in good faith to represent community views. It appears to have no other agenda.

The same cannot be said for the City of Yarra, which does not appear to view honestly informing residents and ratepayers about its actions as part of its core responsibilities. Using ratepayer money to fight legal actions to bury information that should be in the public domain is disgusting, and further evidence that the City of Yarra is not only incompetent but corrupt as well.

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