For the 20 or so years that I have lived in Kensington I have looked across as the striking façade of the Younghusband Woolstores and wondered how long these magnificent buildings would survive.
I always hoped that they would be reinvented for new types of enterprise but expected that they would at some point come under threat of demolition to make way for apartment buildings.
In 2011 this almost happened – a proposal to construct a tall apartment building on the site was lodged with the City of Melbourne but it was rejected primarily due to the site’s adjacency to the Allied Four Mill which operated 24 hours a day. Council subsequently applied heritage controls to the site, and the property changed hands to the Impact Investment Group (IIG).
Following comprehensive engagement with tenants, residents and Council, IIG sought and obtained planning approval for the rejuvenation of the woolstore as offices, shops, studios and suites and new communal indoor spaces.
And so now the Younghusband Woolstore in Kensington is set for rejuvenation as a contemporary industrial village. This is no small task, given the many challenges that such a large and complex site presents.
Image - Woolstore interior render (source - IIG)
Speaking both as a local resident and an urban planner who cares passionately about Melbourne, I think that IIG are be to congratulated for having the vision and courage to respect both the building’s heritage and its potential as an incubator of creative enterprise.
The IIG vision for the site is for it to become a mix of education, arts, production, co-warehousing and co working space. The site already houses a number of small businesses, creative industries and arts activities. The renewal will build upon these activities, with the vision of creating an ‘industrial village’ centred on sustainability, community and heritage.
The development vision has responded to the feedback of tenants and local residents, and it will evolve as a precinct that caters to the needs of the various types of innovative and creative industries that Melbourne is so famed for nurturing.
The core building program will centre on Food, Education, The Arts, Technology, Co-working and Wellness. Stage 1 of the project was granted approval in January 2018, and it includes the rejuvenation of the woolstore for use as offices, shops, studios and suites and new communal indoor spaces.
Image - Proposed occupancy mix (source - IIG)
Planning of Stage 2 of is now underway and it will include the rejuvenation of a further heritage building and the construction of an eight-storey commercial building immediately adjacent to the railway line.
More details about the project vision can be found here.