Apple has ditched controversial plans to build a global flagship store in Melbourne's iconic Federation Square after Heritage Victoria ruled against the construction.
The company had applied to demolish the square's existing “Yarra Building”, which Apple said couldn’t accommodate its hoped-for store and other facilities that it only installs in super-sized flagship stores.
But the Yarra Building can’t be touched without sign-off by Heritage Victoria, which today issued a determination putting the kybosh on Apple's ambitions.
The determination [pdf] comes a month after the City of Melbourne's Future Melbourne Committee resolved to oppose the store, following months of public debate after Premier Daniel Andrews made the shock announcement shortly before Christmas 2017.
Even a public debate at Federation Square in which the square's original architect was roped in to argue for the building's demolition wasn't enough to sway the public's opinion.
Heritage Victoria has now vindicated the Yarra Building's proponents, rejecting Apple’s plans on grounds that replacing the Yarra Building “would result in unacceptable and irreversible detrimental impact on the cultural heritage significance of Federation Square".
The document goes on to say that Apple’s proposed building is too big, out of character with the rest of the Square and eats into public space.
Heritage Victoria added that the likely economic benefits of the Store don’t outweigh the damage done to Federation Square.
In a statement, Apple said it was "disappointed we’re no longer able to pursue our plan for Federation Square", but that it remained committed to all existing 22 retail stores across Australia.
Activists who opposed the Apple Store are chuffed.
They’ve also reported that Apple has walked away from the project.
Update: Apple is walking, no appeal. It is over.— Rohan Leppert (@RohanLeppert) April 5, 2019
Chalk one up, then, for the combined might of people power and a regulator that thinks aesthetic consistency matters: among Heritage Victoria’s objections was its belief that the Apple store "will detract from the design language of the existing buildings and public square".
With Matt Johnston