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‘Heritage isn’t meant to be about beautiful things’: Federation Square granted heritage listing

Federation Square has been added to Victoria’s heritage register.

The 17-year-old public square has been controversial since it was built, with many criticising its design and usability.

But a urban historian says it deserves the heritage listing.

“Victorians have said they love this public space, it’s important to them, and that’s been recognised by this heritage listing,” Dr James Lesh, urban historian specialising in heritage, told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

Over 700 Victorians were consulted about Federation Square’s listing, and only three said they didn’t want it to receive heritage protection.

Dr Lesh said common criticism that the square is ugly is irrelevant.

“I don’t think it really matters whether or not we think it’s ugly,” he said.

“Heritage isn’t meant to be about beautiful things.

“If we only used subjective judgements about what is beautiful and what is ugly as our heritage measure then Melbourne would be a very different place.

“In the 50s we would have knocked down every single Victorian terrace in the suburbs.

“In the 70s we would have demolished Flinders Street Station and probably the Regent Theatre as well.”

Federation Square has been listed for its architecture, as a town square, as a monument to Australian federation and as a living place with ongoing social importance.

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