Last call to save hall fails
A last-ditch effort to have an Interim Protection Order placed on the soon to be demolished Yarrawonga Community Hall has been denied after it was deemed to be of no heritage value.
On June 19, 2019, a nomination for the Yarrawonga Town Hall and adjacent Yarrawonga Community Hall was put forward for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) by the Yarrawonga Community Action Group (YCAG).
Due to the delayed time frame for any assessment of locations which were nominated to the heritage register, YCAG sought an Interim Protection Order (IPO) for both halls through Heritage Victoria in response to a motion from Moira Shire Council to send plans out for tender and for construction to begin on the new precinct.
In a letter released by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Executive Director Heritage Victoria
Steven Avery described the Yarrawonga Community Hall as a utilitarian building, constructed three decades after the Yarrawonga Shire Hall and stated it was not considered to have historical significance.
“It is readily compared with numerous other community and public halls in many towns and settlements across Victoria,” Mr Avery stated in the letter.
“These are not rare, and the Yarrawonga Community Hall is not considered to have historical or social significance, or other distinctive attributes, that would raise the building to state-level cultural heritage significance to warrant inclusion in the VHR.
“I am of the view that the potential statelevel heritage significance of the place is demonstrated primarily by the Yarrawonga Shire Hall, rather than the community hall.
“The evidence provided does not demonstrate that the community hall meets any of the Heritage Council of Victoria’s criteria at the level of State significance.
“It is my view that there is not prima facie (based on the first impression; accepted as correct until proved otherwise) case for the inclusion of the community hall in the VHR as a place of State-level heritage significance
“I am of the view that the demolition of the community hall would not prejudice the future consideration of the Yarrawonga Shire Hall for potential inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register.
“It is my view that, on the basis of the information currently available, an IPO (Interim Protection Order) is not warranted in relation to this place.”
YCAG had argued that attaching a modern building in place of the community hall to the near 100-year-old town hall will “impact badly structurally, visually and functionally”.
Through the application YCAG asked
Moira Shire Council to rethink their plans for the town hall precinct and instead purchase the former Yarrawonga Primary School site where they believe most residents would prefer the new precinct to be relocated.
A Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT) ‘practice’ preliminary hearing was held on Friday, June 18, 2021 with VCAT deciding the objection could proceed on legal precedent.
However, council revealed they would proceed with the project under a separate permit issued under the new planning provisions which does not allow community members to appeal against council plans for council buildings of a value less than $10 million if they are to be built on council owned land.
Moira Shire CEO Clare Keenan said that council understood the significance the hall held to the town and that it has served its purpose.
“We know the hall is the site of many memories - blue light discos, first kisses, wonderful fundraisers and ballroom dances amongst others,” Ms Keenan said.
“It has served its purpose and hope that