Heritage review pinpoints South Yarra places for greater protection 

Heritage review pinpoints South Yarra places for greater protection 
David Schout

The first heritage study of South Yarra in almost 40 years has identified 17 local churches, hotels, and apartment buildings as worthy of new or greater protection due to their significance to the local area. 

The South Yarra Heritage Review, which covered the area immediately east and south-east of Southbank, recommended that places without existing protection, like the former Chevron Hotel, the South Yarra Telephone Exchange and the 1930s-built Kia Ora flats, all be granted individual heritage overlays.

These places were all noted for either their high architectural or historical merit. 

The review, which the City of Melbourne engaged consultants GML Heritage to conduct, also included a recommendation to afford greater protection to places like Melbourne Girls Grammar School, Fairlie flats, the former Wesleyan Church and Wesley College.

Two further places recommended for inclusion as an “individual heritage place” — South Yarra Primary School and the former Fawkner Club Hotel — were identified as having Aboriginal associations.

City of Melbourne councillors were expected to endorse the review at a November 8 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, which took place following the publication of the November edition of Southbank News.

The council was seeking interim heritage protections (termed amendment C425) for notable places in South Yarra while the amendment for permanent controls (C426) progressed.

It is the latest in a series of rolling heritage reviews throughout the municipality to ensure the most up-to-date protection of the city’s valued places.

The Southbank Heritage Review — which has ensured key local sites such as the Queensbridge Hotel, the Robur Tea House, and the former Castlemaine Brewery were now all protected to a greater level — was commissioned by the council in 2017, adopted in 2020, and approved by the Victorian Minister for Planning in 2021.

The council also recently completed heritage reviews of both the Hoddle Grid and Fishermans Bend.  

The South Yarra Heritage Review — the first heritage study of the local area since 1985 — began in August 2020 and was initially expected to be completed by the end of June 2021, however delays were experienced due to COVID-19.


Like other heritage studies, it identified key locations within the local area that were worthy of “protection” under the planning scheme; that is, where higher levels of scrutiny should be applied to any future development plans on the site.


The council said it wanted to assess the South Yarra area to “better understand its physical and cultural heritage and find out what makes it different to other communities in the city”.

A number of places within the review area (bounded by St Kilda Rd to the west and Alexandra Avenue and Boathouse Drive to the north, High St to the south and Punt Rd to the east) are already on the Victorian Heritage Register.

These include the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Government House and Grounds, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance Reserve.

The council consulted with a range of stakeholders throughout the review, including Traditional Owners and custodians, and the Melbourne South Yarra Residents’ Group.

It also received 54 contributions via its Participate Melbourne webpage.

In the report to councillors, the historical context of South Yarra was noted as having “high ground, rich soil, tree cover and access to fresh water”, which contributed to its “significance for Traditional Owners who used the area as living spaces and to hold ngargee (gatherings for celebration) until they were driven out in the 1860s”.

From the 1850s onwards “South Yarra began to be known as an affluent area, which has shaped the physical development of the suburb including large estates of the 1840s and ‘50s, Victorian boom-era villas, luxury flats and maisonettes that replaced mansions in the 1920s to ‘40s and architect-designed flats and avant-garde homes of the post-war era.”

Irrespective of what results from the heritage review, properties with existing permits for substantial demolition or development outside of existing heritage overlays are excluded from interim controls.

Landowners and others will have the opportunity to make submissions during the public exhibition of this amendment.

If adopted on November 8, the amendment would be sent to the Minister for Planning for final approval. •


Caption: The review was the first heritage study of South Yarra in 37 years (Picture: State Library of Victoria).

Join our Facebook Group