Melbourne’s Federation Square has been granted temporary protection against redevelopment after heritage advocacy organisation National Trust of Australia (Victoria) nominated it for addition to the Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria issued an interim protection order, which protects the square for four months or until its heritage status is determined.

Several changes had been planned for the iconic Federation Square in Melbourne as part of the redevelopment project including the demolition of the Yarra building to make way for Apple’s flagship store and the construction of a Metro tunnel entrance.

Observing that “there may be a prima facie case for the inclusion of this place in the Victorian Heritage Register”, the executive director of Heritage Victoria Steven Avery said that the planned redevelopment works may “detrimentally affect its cultural heritage significance”.

However, this decision has not gone down very well with the Victorian Government, given that the Federation Square was built just 16 years ago and cannot really be considered a heritage asset. Classifying modern sites as heritage structures could impact future projects, according to tourism minister John Erin.

But a building’s age is not a factor for inclusion in the heritage list as per the Heritage Act 1995; several Melbourne buildings have been added to the Victorian Heritage Register at a much younger age including the National Gallery of Victoria, which opened on 20 August 1968, and was added to the register in 1982.

The Royal Historical Society of Victoria has supported Federation Square’s nomination for inclusion in the heritage register with the chair of its heritage committee, Charles Sowerwine, saying: “In architectural terms, it embodies a remarkably coherent example of late 20th-Century architecture. In civic terms, it has become a truly public civic square.”