Archived Advocacy Projects

supporting heritage matters

We cooperate with cognate organisations in response to heritage issues raised by affiliated historical societies.

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2020 Advocacy Statements

Federation Square

RHSV Heritage Committee joined the campaign to protect Federation Square.

8 Aug 2018         RHSV statement on Heritage Protection for Federation Square

15 Dec 2018       RHSV submission to the Heritage Council about Federation Square

12 Feb 2019       RHSV submission to Heritage Victoria regarding Federation Square and the Apple Flagship Store

5 April 2019        Federation Square saved

The Age, 8 August 2020, carried an article in which the recently appointed CEO of Fed Square, Dr Xavier Csar, spoke of opening the square to the Yarra (Jewel Topsfield, ‘Federation Square to improve links to the Yarra’; see The Heritage Committee participated extensively in the reviews that followed rejection of the Apple Store and had been awaiting results of these reviews. I wrote to Dr Xavier Csar, CEO of Fed Square, seeking an interview.

On 7 September, Judy Smart, Ian Wight and I met by Zoom with Dr Csar, who reassured us that there were no plans for building works and that ‘embracing the Yarra’ meant improved signage, access, and food services at the riverside. He also reassured us that (as we had argued), Fed Square’s revenues would suffice for expected maintenance.


Ian Wight and Judy Smart attended Yarra Council’s meeting Tuesday 25 February, where Amendment C231—Queens Parade was considered. The final form of the amendment considerably reduced the maximum height of developments behind Queens Parade shop fronts and increased the minimum setback. A significant victory.

We have been less successful with other shopping strips. On 5 August, Ian Wight represented the RHSV at the Planning Panel considering the proposed amendment for the future development of Swan Street, Richmond. As with Queens Parade, North Fitzroy, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) was pressing for development rules that would leave only the façades of heritage buildings and a few metres of original fabric.

Ian gave a masterly analysis and the panel members asked a number of pertinent questions, which gave us hope that some of the more egregious aspects of the proposed amendment would be revised but sadly this was not the case. However, the panel report handed down in October agreed with the Council that the general recommended upper level setback be increased from 5 to 6 metres and we like to think that our submissions assisted in this decision. Nevertheless this was a disappointing outcome that is unlikely to prevent façadism.


29 May 2019     Submission to Heritage Council of Victoria regarding planned amendments to the City of Yarra to design and development overlays covering historic strip of shopping centre

4 Dec 2018.     RHSV logged objections to planning amendments which threaten the heritage fabric of North Fitzroy Queens Parade shopping strip

4 Dec 2020.      RHSV logged a submission to the Yarra Planning Amendment C269 rewrite of local policies


Mt Buninyong Development

We were approached by the Buninyong and District Historical Society, which objected to a grotesque proposal to build tourist accommodation in the form of giant wine barrels on the slopes of this picturesque extinct volcano near Ballarat, a site significant to Indigenous and settler populations alike and listed on the now closed Register of the National Estate. Ballarat Council rejected the application unanimously. The developer has gone to VCAT and we have submitted a statement of grounds in the case. Unfortunately, the developer has commenced construction of the first unit, which cannot be challenged as one dwelling can be erected without a permit provided it conforms to the code.

Historic Garden Saved

North Park Subdivision & Redevelopment

In September 2020 the RHSV lodged a submission to support the Essendon Historical Society and the ‘Save North Park’ community group, opposing plans for subdivision and development of the grounds of the former North Park, Essendon. The application was refused by Heritage Victoria and then the Moonee Valley Council also unanimously refused the planning application.

Appeals against these decisions were lodged by the owner and RHSV submitted a Statement of Grounds with VCAT. Both appeals were withdrawn by the applicant and RHSV expects revised plans and new applications in the near future.

North Park, Essendon, is a a high Victorian mansion still surrounded by its intact gardens. Both the mansion and the gardens are on the Victorian Heritage Register. “The grounds of North Park are of aesthetic importance as an outstanding example of the gardenesque style and for the unusual three curved terraces, wide drive, garden path remains, and the evergreen trees and large conifers which contribute to the picturesque profile of the overall composition.” 

North Park is now owned by the St Columban order. They proposed to construct 25 townhouses on the grounds. Local community opposition developed quickly, supported by the Essendon Historical Society. Heritage Victoria refused a permit and Moonee Valley Council also refused a town planning permit. The St Columban’s appealed to the Heritage Council and to VCAT. The RHSV made major submissions to both bodies, supporting the EHS and the local community. Both appeals have now been withdrawn.

This is a battle won, but the war will no doubt continue. We will keep alert for the next battle.


On 18 August 2020, the Future Melbourne Committee of the City of Melbourne heard and accepted a proposal from Cr Jackie Watts to undertake a feasibility study for a Maritime Centre to be installed in the Mission to Seafarers building. While members of the Heritage Committee have some reservations about the proposal, we believe it has great potential merit if over-commercialisation can be avoided. We made a strongly supportive submission. The proposal would ensure that this splendid building is safeguarded, and that alone is reason to pursue this path.


Elisabeth Jackson, RHSV vice president and Heritage Committee member, has been involved in opposing a development site on the corner of Sydney Road and Park Street, Brunswick. Elisabeth reported, ‘Heritage concerns were only one aspect of the objections to this proposal which involved a huge tower overshadowing Princes Park and building on a very contaminated site. The main heritage concern related to the proposed removal of a 1920s electrical substation. This had been built and operated by the former Brunswick Electricity Supply—an organisation of great significance to Brunswick. Moreland Council has been excellent on this issue—rejecting both the original plans and a revised set’. The developer took the council to VCAT, which confirmed the council’s position. We thus obtained a favourable outcome.


When the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was thrown into the River Avon on 7 June 2020, the RHSV realised that we would need to consider our position on iconoclastic activity, especially since some of Victoria’s controversial statues are on the Heritage Register. Even more concerning, the RHSV, and especially its predecessor the HSV, not only supported the preservation of monuments but led the way in erecting many of them, such as those commemorating explorers whose relations with Indigenous landowners were often destructive.

In formulating a response, the Heritage Committee consulted with RHSV president and historian of Aboriginal Victoria, Richard Broome, and with heritage experts Stuart Macintyre and Graeme Davison. The resulting statement was posted on our website and on Facebook and sent out to members. We believe that it was generally well received, though some half a dozen members opposed the removal of any statues. 


22 July 2020
RHSV’s Submission to the Inquiry into the destruction of 46,000 year old caves at the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

Click above to read our submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the destruction of the 46,000-year-old caves at the Juukan Gorge. We argue that it demonstrates profound failings in the legislation to protect Australia’s heritage, not only in WA, but also in the Commonwealth, which was missing in action.

Commonwealth Environment Minister Sussan Ley justified doing nothing on the grounds that there was no application for protection, but it emerges today that when the traditional owners of the Shenhua Watermark site on the Liverpool Plains did apply for protections, the Minister refused to grant protection, allowing an open-cut coalmine to proceed. This highlights the need for ‘an independent compliance and enforcement regulator’, as called for by the Review into the EBPC Act.


The Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 Interim Report was published on 20 July 2020. Chair, Professor Graham Samuel, called for submissions in response, to be considered for the final report. On 16 August, the Heritage Committee made a submission to the review. Meanwhile, the government seized on the Interim Report to propose a new Act before publication of the final report! In doing so, the responsible minister rejected all of the controls and safeguards proposed by Professor Samuel in the Interim Report, apparently hoping to legislate uncontrolled devolution before the final report.

On 28 August we wrote to three cross-benchers: Senators Griff, Lambie and Patrick. Faced with their opposition, the government decided not to proceed with its legislation at that time.

The final report was given to the government in October 2020 and released to the public on 28 January 2021. The minister promptly rejected it in favour of the government’s proposals to gut the 1999 EPBC Act (itself a weakened version of the earlier conservation and heritage Acts).



Nearly two decades ago, a developer was granted permission to demolish portions of this historic brickworks for apartments in exchange for preserving the most historic parts and making a museum, to which the local council granted $200,000. But owing to the developer’s inaction, the museum did not eventuate, squatters broke in and set fires, and the roof collapsed.

The owners put in a demolition application to Heritage Victoria, which Moreland Council opposed strongly. On 5 November 2020, the RHSV Heritage Committee lodged a submission opposing the developer’s plan to demolish the heritage buildings and replace them with a replica.



On 8 September 2020, the RHSV Heritage Committee lodged with Heritage Victoria, a submission prepared by the Heritage Committee’s deputy chair Ian Wight supporting Heritage Victoria’s refusal of a proposal to obscure the highly significant cast-iron gates with glass doors. On 9 November, Heritage Victoria granted a permit for a revised proposal, but with stringent conditions that go some way toward meeting our concerns.

2019 Advocacy Statements


The Heritage Council of Victoria asked us to inform them on the needs and views of our member societies with regard to the adequacy of heritage, and especially local heritage, protections. This is a major issue linked to the conflict between DDOs and heritage overlays, so we devoted significant resources to undertaking a major survey of our 340 member societies. We obtained responses from 113 societies, and several more responded too late to be included in the report.

Our final report formed the basis of the Heritage Council’s report to the minister (see It called for the state to take greater responsibility for local heritage.

16 Sep 2019         RHSV wrote a statement protesting the loss of trees on the Midlands Highway

2018 Advocacy Statements

19 Jun 2018         RHSV submission to Heritage Victoria on Porter Prefabricated Iron Store, Fitzroy North

21 Aug 2018         RHSV statement on grounds 340-342 High Street, Northcote/VCAT Ref P1435/2018

21 Aug 2018         RHSV supports Melbourne Planning Scheme Amendments C327 and C328 Hoddle Grid Review

23 Oct 2018         RHSV supports three virtual planning scheme amendments

2017 Advocacy Statements

23 Oct 2017         RHSV submission to Heritage Victoria: Queen Victoria Market Development

15 Sep 2017         RHSV submission on Sarah Sands Hotel, 29 Sydney Road, Brunswick

10 Aug 2017         RHSV submission on Robur Tea House, 28 Clarendon Street, Southbank

8 Feb  2017         RHSV submission Point Nepean National Park Draft Master Plan

31 Jan 2017         RHSV response to proposed demolition of Great Western Hotel, King Street.

31 Jan 2017         System Garden at the University of Melbourne

2016 Advocacy Statements

Nov 2016        RHSV response to revision of the Heritage Act 1995 

28 Oct 2016        RHSV statement on the demolition of the Corkman Hotel (Former Carlton Inn)

5 Dec 2018        Corkman Hotel developers/demolishers get their way

2 June 2019       Ian Wright’s letter to the Editor, The Age, explains the real problem with the Corkman cowboys

2015 Advocacy Statements

Oct 2015       RHSV submission in response to the VEAC draft proposal paper

25 Aug 2015       RHSV submission on the review of the Heritage Act 1995

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