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By Sarah Ward, Samantha Teague and Lauren Vadnjal
April 05, 2019

Apple's Controversial New Federation Square Store Has Officially Been Canned


Apple's plan to build its first Australian flagship store at Federation Square has been one of Melbourne's most controversial new building projects in recent times. And now, after almost 18 months of back and forth, it looks like the plans will be scrapped after Heritage Victoria today refused the huge tech company's application to knock down one of the existing buildings.

Heritage Victoria has this afternoon officially refused Apple's application for a permit to 'dismantle and demolish' the Yarra Building and build a new two-level store on the site. In its refusal, the body noted that the proposed building would have an "unacceptable and irreversible detrimental impact on the cultural heritage status" of Fed Square as it would 'encroach' on public space and detract from the cohesive design of the current square format. It says that the negative impacts of the proposal "are not outweighed by the benefits".

The Andrews Government has confirmed that, without the ability to build a new structure, Apple will not go ahead with the project. Instead, the government will launch a review (with public consultation) into the future of Federation to ensure it grows as "an innovative and exciting place for our community".

This will make opponents to Apple's plans very happy. After being announced in late 2017, Apple's proposed Fed Square store has received considerable community backlash, both around the designs and the fact that it would tear down and replace the existing Yarra Building — and displace the Koorie Heritage Trust in the process. The government has confirmed that the trust will be able to remain in its current home while the review is being completed.

It's gone through a lot since. The Victorian landmark was granted temporary heritage protection in August, and then in October it was recommended for permanent inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register by Heritage Victoria, which prevented any work on the new Apple store from commencing.

This refusal doesn't mean Fed Square has heritage status — and it doesn't mean another retail offering could take its place. Heritage Victoria has stated that a "more conventional" commercial business could be viable for the Yarra Building if its requirements could result in a smaller impact on the square.

Image: Robert Blackburn, Visit Victoria.

Published on April 05, 2019 by Sarah Ward

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