Heritage authority says no to revised plans which would have destroyed part of 2002 precinct

Plans drawn up by Foster & Partners for an Apple store in the heart of Melbourne have been knocked by the city’s heritage authority.

Heritage Victoria has refused the planning application, which would have seen the Yarra Buidling at Federation Square demolished and replaced by the Apple Store.

Federation Square, a AUS$467m (£254m) precinct opposite the city’s famous Flinders Street Station and St Paul’s Cathedral, was designed by UK practice Lab Studios and local practice Bates Smart and opened amid much controversy in 2002. 

Apple melbourne federation square

The original design of Foster’s Apple store in Melbourne.

In documents published by Heritage Victoria it said the decision to refuse Fosters’ plan has been made for several reasons.

It said: “The demolition of the Yarra Building would result in the loss of significant original built form [and] fabric.

“Only in exceptional circumstances would a permit be provided for the demolition of a heritage building.”

It also said the controversial proposal would “adversely affect the cultural heritage significance of Federation Square” as it would be “visually dominant” and “encroach into the public square”.

According to Australian media sources Apple has confirmed that, while disappointed, it will not appeal the decision.

The scheme has been embroiled in as much controversy as the original Fed Square itself since it was announced back in 2017. Fosters designed a revised vision of the scheme in July 2018.

Permission was refused despite the backing of Victorian premier Daniel Andrews, who was re-elected last December.

In December Andrews told Melbourne newspaper The Age: “My position has always been: ‘Do we really want this thing to go to Sydney and all the jobs and all the opportunities that come from it?’ That’s not my view.”