It's one of the most recognisable spots in Melbourne — and, until December this year at least, Federation Square has been granted temporary heritage protection. If the interim move is extended, it also could thwart one of the city's most controversial new projects: Apple's plans to build its first Australian flagship store.
Courtesy of an interim protection order issued on August 21, no work can take place on the site until December 21 without Heritage Victoria's approval. Given that construction on the Apple store wasn't slated to start until next year, the move won't have a significant impact at present. That said, The Age reports that the order is being taken as a sign that permanent heritage protection could be sought for the inner-city space, despite the fact that it's only 16 years old. Giving Fed Square ongoing heritage status would obviously have wider-reaching consequences — including when it comes to pulling down existing buildings.
After being announced late last year, Apple's proposed Fed Square store has received considerable community backlash, with new designs revealed in July in response. The opposition to the store isn't just about how it looks, though, but the fact that it'll tear down and replace the existing Yarra Building, and also displace the Koorie Heritage Trust in the process. Contentiously, it'll also see public land sold off to a commercial retailer.
Regardless of how Fed Square's permanent heritage status pans out — and if indeed it has any impact upon the Apple store — the current temporary order could slightly stall the other big change taking place in the vicinity, the Metro Tunnel. Fed Square's visitor centre is set to be demolished to build an entry to the tunnel, with work due to begin next month. To proceed according to schedule, contractor Cross Yarra Partnership will need to apply for a permit or exemption to go ahead — something it is expected to do this week, according to the Herald Sun.