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Public consultation period begins on review of Federation Square’s future

The Victorian government has begun a public consultation process over the governance of Melbourne’s Federation Square and the “way it functions as a public place.”

The consultation period comes after heated debate over the architecture, governance and function of the square, which was constructed in 2002 and designed by LAB Architecture Studio and Bates Smart. A controversial proposal to demolish the Yarra Building and replace it with a Foster and Partners-designed retail building for American consumer electronics company Apple was the subject of much disagreement and fierce criticism of the government’s lack of consultation.

The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) sought state heritage projection for Federation Square August 2018. The same month, Heritage Victoria issued an interim heritage protection order for the precinct.

The Apple store proposal was abandoned in April 2019, when an application for a demolition permit was rejected by Heritage Victoria.

The state government announced the review of the governance and financial arrangements on the same day as the release of the Heritage Victoria decision. The review is being jointly chaired by Victorian government architect Jill Garner and former managing partner of Ernst and Young Tim Eddy.

Submissions will remain open until the end of September. The review is due to make a report to the government before the end of the year.

In a statement, creative industries minister Martin Foley said, “We value the community’s thoughts and opinions on Federation Square as a cultural and creative space, on what can be improved and, importantly, what its future vision and purpose should be.”

Tourism minister Martin Pakula said, “Federation Square has been a meeting place in the heart of Melbourne for close on two decades and ideas from the public will be essential in ensuring this review makes it an even better place to visit.”

“The community will benefit most from improvements to be made at Federation Square, so we encourage people to take up the opportunity to have their say.”

The online portal for the review can be found here.

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