Emergency Heritage listing ST KILDA ROAD
By: Tom Harley Hon Barry Jones AC
Reproduced below is the request to Hon Josh Frydenberg MP for the emergency listing of St Kilda Road.
16 January 2017
Hon Josh Frydenberg MP
Minister for the Environment and Energy
Member for Kooyong
C/- 695 Burke Road
Camberwell VIC 3124
Emergency Listing of St Kilda Road and Environs on National Heritage List
We are writing to request an emergency listing to St Kilda Road and Environs – being the
streetscape and associated parkland – on the National Heritage List. The place satisfies the
statutory threshold for listing, by being of outstanding heritage value to the nation under
several of the National Heritage List Criterion.
We also believe it is under threat, as defined in Environment Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) Section 324JL.
1. The place is entirely within the Australian jurisdiction EPBC S324C(2)(a);
2. Under Section 324JL (1)(a) EPBC Act the place qualifies by having, in our view, at least
one and, likely, more than one National Heritage Value;
3. We believe the values are under threat EPBC S324JL(1)(b); and
4. We believe that the threat is both likely and imminent EPBC S324JL(1)(b).
We request the immediate Gazettal of the place and we request that you ask the Australian
Heritage Council to assess the place EPBC S324JM against the National Heritage Criteria EPBC
Why is the Area Significant and Why Should It Be Seen as a Whole?
St Kilda Road and Environs is one of the richest urban cultural landscapes in Australia. From
its planner’s earliest aspiration to build a grand Boulevard, it has accumulated significance
through its association with many of the major events of Australia’s history over the last 120
years. Its founding premise of grandeur and other aesthetic qualities have been responded to
and drawn upon by the ensemble of buildings, public artworks, public institutions,
commemorative structures, major celebrations and private developments. There is no
comparable place in Australia, and its design and development are a remarkable technical
achievement, it has profound value to many social groups – especially to the veteran
community and it is closely connected with many significant people in the nation’s history.
St Kilda Road is approximately four kilometres in length. It is a tree-lined Boulevard which
includes the road reserve commencing at Princes Bridge, Melbourne to a point close to the
intersection with Henry Street, Windsor near the St Kilda Junction. It is listed on the Victorian
Heritage Register (VHR) H2359. The place includes a wide carriageway, comprising a central
roadway with tram tracks, flanked by medians, outer traffic lanes, and wide footpaths and
surrounding parklands. St Kilda Road has important associations with the Shrine of
Remembrance. The Shrine was built to draw on the Boulevard for its significance and the
Boulevard gained in its significance by virtue of the Shrine’s relationship with the Boulevard.
For much of its length between Linlithgow Avenue and High Street, the central roadway and
outer traffic lanes are separated by median plantings of Plane Trees (Platanus × aceriflolia).
There are border plantings of Elms: Ulmus procera (English Elms), Ulmus x hollandica (Dutch
Elms) and Ulmus x hollandica ‘purpurascens’ (Purple-leaved Dutch Elms) along the east and
west edge of the outer traffic lanes. Plantings along St Kilda Road vary in age and maturity.
This site is part of the traditional land of the Kulin Nation. One of the important sites
acknowledging the past indigenous heritage values, is within the nominated place the reburial
site within the King’s Domain. The precinct has a very high level of significance to indigenous
communities. Much of this under researched and this nomination is regrettably light in
dealing with the Place’s indigenous significance.
St Kilda Road developed from Baxter’s Track which led from Melbourne to Baxter’s
Stockyard in St Kilda from the 1830s
As early as the 1840s, the east side of St Kilda Road was chosen as the location of public
institutions, such as the first Immigrants Home (demolished), and Governor La Trobe reserved
a site for a Government House in the nearby Domain by 1840. By the early 1850s St Kilda Road
was a main thoroughfare and more institutions were built along it, such as Victoria Barracks
(1856-72) Commonwealth Heritage List (CHL), Melbourne Grammar School (1856) VHR
H0019, Wesley College the Observatory (1861) VHR H1087 and the School for the Blind (1866)
VHR H1002. In the mid-1870s, the first allotments along St Kilda Road, near Fawkner Park,
were auctioned for residential development. Improvements were undertaken to St Kilda Road
in the late 1880s, prompted by the introduction of cable tramways along the length of the
road in 1888. The remnants of the cable tramways network are preserved at a number of sites
in the nominated place.
The road was soon after referred to as a ‘Boulevard’. The ceremonial and symbolic importance
of St Kilda Road was both used and enhanced with the construction of the Shrine of
Remembrance VHR H0848 in 1934 which incorporated the vista along St Kilda Road to the
south and along St Kilda Road and Swanston Street to the North. With the 1950s rezoning of
land along St Kilda Road to allow for non-residential development, the character of the built
form along St Kilda Road began to change, with the demolition of nineteenth century
residences and construction of commercial and office buildings. The road itself has remained
a Boulevard, and community appreciation of it continues. St Kilda Road is the southern
gateway to Melbourne and an important thoroughfare connecting the southern suburbs with
the city. It holds an important role as a location for public ceremonies, such as the annual
Anzac Day parade, and many other gatherings.
Given its early designation for both ceremonial purposes and those of public betterment it
developed in a way that reflected many of the characteristics the fledging Australian society
wished to demonstrate:
elegance with the Boulevard design;
loyalty and civic pride through a series of statues to monarchs;
respect for service and sacrifice with its war memorials and other commemorative
a focus for communities involved in major conflicts – the Greek, Turk and other
education with two large public schools and in more recent times the Victorian College
for the Arts and the Arts school of the National Gallery of Victoria;
philanthropic endeavour with fountains and memorials to major philanthropists of the
city – Macpherson, Clarke, Walker and civic achievement – Fitzgibbon;
the arts – Arts Centre Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, and Sidney Myer Music
Security and public order with the establishment of Victoria Barracks and the Police
College and Hospital an memorial to police service;
it has become an area of display of art and sculpture and other forms of public
performance – particularly now with the innovation of the M Pavillion which uses the
parks and their proximity; and
advancing the causes of those with disabilities – the blind, deaf and mute, with major
St Kilda Road has to be seen as an evolving cultural landscape – an ensemble of places whose
heritage values are interrelated. There is both cause and effect. The major institutions that
populate the Boulevard are situated only in part for utility – because it is a key access point to
the city. Many are located on St Kilda Road because the Boulevard was designed and
constructed to have a beauty and grandeur that would enhance the institutions. By dint of
the history of the Boulevard, other institutions and monuments have been erected that derive
their standing from their positions as part of the Boulevard.
The decision to place the Shrine of Remembrance in the centre of the Boulevard is the most
outstanding example of this process. The Shrine – almost more than any other institution on
the Boulevard, gains its standing from the integrity of the Boulevard. Most of the other
institutions have a similar relationship.
In the second half of the twentieth century the placement of the Victorian Arts Centre, Hamer
Hall, National Gallery of Victoria and Victorian College of the Arts on the Boulevard both drew
upon and added to the Boulevard’s significance. A forerunner to their construction was the
major philanthropic step taken when the Sidney Myer Trust gave funds for an outdoor concert
pavilion – The Myer Music Bowl which was added to the NHL In 2002. Its placement in the
Environs of St Kilda Road was the result of some deep thinking. Harold Desbrowe-Annear, in
his book For Every Man his Home, published a plan for the redevelopment of Melbourne in
which the King’s Domain was the new cultural heart of the city, flanked by the city’s major
arts institutions. One of these was to be an open-air auditorium for about 5,000 people
situated where the Sidney Myer Music Bowl stands today. Desbrowe-Annear chose the site
as it was visible from Flinders Street and the city. In 1929, Sidney Myer, a lover of music,
established the ‘Music for the People’ series of free open-air concerts by the Melbourne
Symphony Orchestra in the Botanical Gardens, and had expressed a wish that a permanent
home for such performances be constructed in Melbourne.
The Victoria Barracks have prime position on the Boulevard opposite the avenues that are the
entries to Government House. For nearly one hundred years and through the greatest
conflicts faced by Australia, the barracks housed the military high command and in the second
world war the War Cabinet.
The southern end of St Kilda Road from the Shrine south are where some of the most intact
plantings survive and it houses the schools – Melbourne Grammar and Wesley College plus
two pioneering institutions built to a grand scale in the gothic style – The Victorian Institute
for the Blind and the former Victorian Deaf and Dumb Institution. Up until the Boulevard was
rezoned for commercial use in the 1970s the Boulevard was filled with large Victorian
mansions – some of which took on institutional purposes.
Looking north from the Southern end of St Kilda Road, the tree-lined Boulevard is crowned by
the Shrine, each drawing from the other the Boulevard and the building for impact. The
inspiration for the design has been variously suggested as the Mall in Washington with The
Lincoln Memorial which can be viewed from both East and West, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
with the Champs-Élysées and the Mall in London leading to Admiralty Arch from Buckingham
Place. There is no doubt that these boulevards and others were the reference points for the
It is not surprising that the Boulevard with its own grandeur became the ceremonial gateway
to the city on the Nation’s grandest occasions:
The first Royal Visit by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1867.
The opening ceremony for the Grand Exhibition 1880.
The visit by the Duke of York to open the First Federal Parliament in 1901.
The procession for the Visit of the Great White Fleet in 1904.
After the Shrine’s construction it became the route for ANZAC Day commemorations
and most other events commemorating sacrifice in wars.
It has been the Boulevard for many celebrations of a more local nature.
We believe St Kilda Road will satisfy the thresholds for significance on its comparative
standing, its current integrity and authenticity
Threat and Imminence
The plans associated with the Melbourne Metropolitan Rail project will do major damage to
the heritage values associated with the area. The damage is likely to be very significant and
will degrade the heritage values of the place.
The threat is imminent given the release of the Environment Effects Statement (EES) Metro
Tunnel on December 21 2016 and the Assessment of the Minister for Planning under the
Environment Effects Act 1978 released the same day.
Enabling works are underway which, under the Minister’s amending order, are excluded from
the EES process. This enabling works present a potential threat to the Heritage values.
The Minster’s assessment completes the EES and finishes the EES process and concludes that
the environmental effects of the Project are acceptable, provided appropriate mitigation and
management is implemented. The Project should be approved, subject to the key findings
outlined in the Minister’s letter.
The Nature of the Threat and the Inadequacy of the Response – So Far
The EES acknowledges the significance of the potential impact and the need to do something
about it. However it does not seem to see the tree removal in the context of the whole
To demolish, as is proposed, more than 100 trees out of the Boulevard (numbers vary and are
not final) and environs will irreparably damages the integrity of the Boulevard. That the trees
may be regrown over the next 60 years is not an adequate response to the loss of Heritage
value. The Project should examine other options particularly going deeper and using other
spaces for work sites that do not require tree removal.
The EES concludes as follows under “Arboriculture impacts” – “As proposed, the Project is
likely to have a significant impact upon existing substantial trees, some of which enjoy
heritage protection, and many of which contribute to the distinctive character of the precincts
where they are located and to the character of Melbourne as a whole. It is appropriate to
manage the impact of the Project on trees by the use of EPRs, but the EPRs considered by the
IAC should be strengthened to place a greater emphasis on avoiding tree removal where
possible, and to more carefully explore the option of temporary relocation of significant trees,
to be replanted following completion of the main works – particularly in the Parkville and
Domain Precincts. This is a matter which will also be considered under the Heritage Act for
some of these trees affected by the Project as they are subject to heritage protection.”
It is possible that actions may be taken under the heading of enabling or preparatory works
that may damage the heritage values:
The Works Programme
It is noted that in the Ministers statement he says:
“Enabling works – works identified in Victorian Government Gazette No. S361 (24 November
2015) are excluded from assessment under the EES, and may commence prior to the
completion of this Assessment.”
Preparatory works are referred to in the EES, and are intended to commence prior to the
approval of the EMF and EPRs plans and other requirements relevant to the construction of
the Early Works and Main Works. They include preparatory steps, such as:
works, including vegetation removal, that would not require a permit under the
provisions of the planning schemes that, but for this document, would apply to the
investigations, surveys, testing and preparatory works to determine the suitability of
creation of construction access points;
establishment of environmental and traffic controls; and
fencing and temporary barriers to enable preparatory works.
Early works are referred to in the EES, and are intended to commence prior to the approval
of Development Plans but after the approval of the EMF and EPRs. They include works, such
utility service relocation and protection of utility assets;
site preparation works, including demolition works, removal or relocation of trees and
monuments, minor road/transport network changes; and
works for construction of shafts at CBD North and CBD South station precincts.
“The assessments that have been conducted to date appear to deal with the impact on a
case by case basis and does (sic) not look at the cumulative impact on the cultural
We regard these statements as justifying the view that the threat is imminent.
We request your immediate attention as we believe a place of great National Heritage
Significance is under imminent threat. We hope that emergency listing may enable the
heritage values to be protected through an appropriate management plan.
Tom Harley Hon Barry Jones AC
Emergency National Heritage Listing for St Kilda Road
Emergency listing is sought for the area delineated on the attached map. There is an
immediate threat from the proposed Melbourne metro rail project works which has variously
proposed the demolition of trees along the Boulevard and in its broader precinct. The nature
of the threat is defined in the Environment Effects Statement released on 21 December 2016.
Works sites are in place and there is a concern that the plan will be put into effect imminently.