The 63-year-old Alphington Boiler House – the distinctive power station on the former Amcor paper mill site – will not be granted heritage listing. This despite Heritage Victoria’s recommendation the building be preserved. Minister for Planning Richard Wynne overruled the conservation group’s recommendation – the first time in 10 years a Victorian planning minister has done so.
Heritage Victoria says the station deserved protection because of its technical and structural significance. The 1954 boiler house was one of the first buildings in Melbourne constructed with curtain walling, where the outer layer or wall of a building is non-structural. The glass and metal facade of the Boiler House allowed the inner workings of the factory to be viewed from outside.
Mr Wynne’s decision is in part due to the building’s state of disrepair – the structure is ridden with asbestos and has been heavily vandalised. Yarra Council supports Wynne’s choice not to add the building to the Victorian Heritage Register, and local residents have described it as “unattractive” and “universally hated”.
“The old power station is an eyesore, a relic of the past and needs to go,” Wynne said in a statement. “The Alphington community has spoken and we’ve listened. This decision will pave the way for the dangerous, asbestos-ridden Boiler House to be demolished and replaced with new homes, parkland and open space.”
A new $2.2 billion residential precinct is slated for the site. The development will include 2500 new homes, parkland and community facilities across 16.5 hectares of the Yarra River’s northern bank.
The site – dubbed “Tesla Town” – has been planned in consultation with the community and the development was approved by Yarra City Council in December 2015.
The Labor government is committing $5.1 million to the construction of a plaza that provides information on the site’s history and its industrial heritage.
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