The Royal Exhibition Building (REB) and Carlton Gardens was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List on 1 July 2004. It was the first built heritage site in Australia to be declared World Heritage.

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens are included in the World Heritage List because they are the only remaining example of a Palace of Industry from a nineteenth-century world fair on its original site. The site is even more significant because it’s still being used for exhibitions.

The site is also included in the National Heritage List and the Victorian Heritage Register

History of the REB and Carlton Gardens

Museum Victoria’s major project to restore the 1880 garden layout

Protecting the site

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens are protected under the Heritage Act 1995 through:

  • Royal Exhibition and Carlton Gardens World Heritage Management Plan 2013
  • The World Heritage Environs Area Strategy Plan

World Heritage Area Management Plan

Under the Heritage Act 1995 (the Act) a World Heritage Management Plan is created for World Heritage listed places. A Steering Committee appointed by the Minister for Planning prepares, implements and reviews the plan (Section 62M of the Act). The Steering Committee continues to meet regularly.

  • June 2011: draft Management Plan prepared.
  • June – August 2011: public exhibition of the plan with submissions sought from all interested parties.
  • September 2011: submitters had the opportunity to present their submissions to the Steering Committee at a public hearing. Steering Committee considered the submissions and reviewed the draft Management Plan, and forwarded it to the Minister. The Minister approved The World Heritage Management Plan for the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens.
  • November 2016: minutes from November 2016 Steering Committee meeting (DOCX, 30.3 KB)

The plan

World Heritage Environs Area Strategy Plan

Under the Heritage Act 1995, a World Heritage Environs Area Strategy Plan (Strategy Plan) is required for the area surrounding the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens:

  • The World Heritage Environs Area acts as a buffer zone for the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens and helps protect and transmit the World Heritage values of the site.
  • The Strategy Plan explains the strategies we’ll use to protect the World Heritage values.

18 November 2009: planning scheme amendments to implement the recommendations of the Strategy Plan in the Melbourne and Yarra Planning Schemes were gazetted.
Summary of amendments:

Amendment C154 to the Melbourne Planning Scheme:

  • introduces a new Local Heritage Policy into the planning scheme, which contains specific guidance for the development of land immediately surrounding the World Heritage Site;
  • includes the World Heritage Environs Area Precinct in the Heritage Overlay;
    amends the Design and Development Overlays applying to properties on the north side of Queensberry Street and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons site on Spring Street; and
  • makes consequential changes to the Municipal Strategic Statement and other Local Policies within the planning scheme.

Amendment C118 to the Yarra Planning Scheme:

  • introduces a new Local Heritage Policy into the planning scheme, which contains specific guidance for the development of land immediately surrounding the World Heritage Site;
  • includes the World Heritage Environs Area Precinct in the Heritage Overlay;
    introduces a Design and Development Overlay over properties on the north side of Gertrude Street; and
  • makes consequential changes to the Municipal Strategic Statement and other Local Policies within the planning scheme.

View amendments at Planning Schemes Online

World Heritage Environs Area Strategy Plan (PDF, 2.0 MB)
Appendix 1 (PDF, 22.0 KB)
Appendix 2 (PDF, 4.7 MB)

Note: the Strategy Plan is a large document. If you have difficulty downloading it contact (03) 8644 8800 or heritage.victoria@delwp.vic.gov.au.

Strategy Plan summary:

  • Include the properties fronting the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens in a new precinct-based Heritage Overlay in the Melbourne and Yarra Planning Schemes. Properties fronting the western part of Gertrude Street and the eastern part of Queensberry Street are also to be included in this precinct. Land in this precinct is considered to be the area of greatest sensitivity.
  • Introduce a new local Heritage Policy in the Melbourne and Yarra Planning Schemes to provide specific guidance for development of land within the area of greatest sensitivity.
  • Include properties on the northern side of Gertrude and Queensberry streets and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons building within a Design and Development Overlay to protect views to the Royal Exhibition Building dome.
  • Consequential changes to the Municipal Strategic Statements and the Local Planning Policies of the Melbourne and Yarra Planning Schemes.

5 November 2009 - the Strategy Plan was gazetted in the Government Gazette and came into operation.

21 October 2009 - after an extensive public consultation and hearing process, the Minister for Planning approved a Strategy Plan for the World Heritage Environs Area.