The Victorian Trades Hall is the symbolic home of trade unionism in the state, and is associated with key events in the history of the unions, the Australian Labour Party and the country as a whole. In March 2016 we completed a conservation management plan (CMP) for the building to guide its future use and management.
Constructed in ten stages — the most significant occurring between 1876 and 1925 — the Trades Hall occupies a central Melbourne location, near the Old Gaol, RMIT University and the Eight Hour Day monument. Its fortunes ebbed and flowed with those of the unions, the foundations for which were shaped in the gold-rush era with its wealth, articulate skilled workforce and prominent citizens determined to create a democratic society.
The CMP focuses on a series of management and planning issues that face the Victorian Trades Hall Council. These include the ongoing and future uses of the building, the need to comply with statutory requirements such as the building code, establishing conservation works priorities, and looking at the possibilities of adaptation for parts of the building and/or its development. Lovell Chen prepared a condition report in March 2016, and works began in 2017, partly funded by a government grant from the Living Heritage Program.
The CMP also reviews and further analyses the heritage values of the complex already described in existing heritage listings, including the Victorian Heritage Register. It is a key reference for Heritage Victoria in considering future works proposals and permit applications. Consideration has also been given to the potential for the Trades Hall to be of significance at a national level.
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