Melbourne's Federation Square will be assessed for heritage protection in a move that could have implications for the $11 billion Metro Tunnel train project and plans for controversial new Apple store.
Tourism Minister John Eren vowed the "unprecedented" application would not stand in the way of construction for the Metro Tunnel, which will include a new station entrance at Federation Square, near the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets.
"It would be unprecedented to heritage list a site that is only 16 years old, and to do so could lead to significant implications for future projects," Mr Eren said.
"This will not to stop us delivering the Metro Tunnel and other vital projects that are good for Melbourne and good for jobs."
The Victorian branch of the National Trust of Australia lodged the nomination for Federation Square to be included on the Victorian Heritage Register on July 20.
Heritage Victoria has now accepted the nomination for assessment and applied interim protection order to the area of the square which will be demolished to make way for the new train station entrance.
If the square is included on the register, it could also affect plans to demolish the Yarra Building for a new flagship Apple store.
The tech giant released new designs for its Melbourne concept store last month, following a public backlash to the original design, which some dubbed a 'Pizza Hut pagoda'.
Speaking on ABC Radio Melbourne, National Trust Victoria chief executive Simon Ambrose said the Apple Store had "gone ahead without any public consultation".
Mr Ambrose said the National Trust was "not anti-development at all", but wanted to see a masterplan developed for the square to govern its redevelopment.
"We think that Federation Square meets the criteria for heritage listing in a lot of different ways," he said.
"We think that it has architectural, aesthetic and social significance to the state of Victoria, and it's a very, very important place for all Victorians."
Mr Ambrose said heritage protection would mean any future developments to the site would require "appropriate consultation" as well as assessment and permission from Heritage Victoria.
Any person can nominate a place for inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register, but only a small proportion of these applications meet the criteria.
The Heritage Council of Victoria makes the final decision on whether a place is included on the register.
The inclusion of Federation Square, which opened in 2002, on the heritage register would not preclude demolition or redevelopment being carried out on the site, but such work would require a permit.
The Heritage Act does not define how old a place must be to be considered heritage.
Mr Ambrose said the VFL grandstand at Waverley Park provided a precedent for heritage listing of relatively young buildings.
The grandstand was nominated for heritage listing 24 years after it was completed.