A property development group which owns Melbourne's historic Nylex clock silos site on the banks of the Yarra River has been given three weeks to carry out clean up works or face hefty fines.
But Caydon Property Group said the threat of asbestos exposure to workers is among the reasons slowing progress at the site which is in line for a $1 billion overhaul.
The home of the well-known neon Nylex sign has been repeatedly vandalised over the past nine months, with fires in November and July causing significant damage to buildings.
The state government on Wednesday gave Caydon 21 days to take action or fines of up to $773,000 could be issued.
Failure to adequately secure the Nylex site is a breach of the Heritage Act which requires that the owner must not allow that place to fall into disrepair, Planning Minister Richard Wynne said.
A range of measures including fencing, signage, locks and security patrols are in place to secure the site, Caydon's Jarrod Stratton said in a statement.
"The works suggested by Heritage Victoria cannot be undertaken without exposing workers to risk from asbestos and buildings damaged by fire, and we are keen to meet with Heritage Victoria to achieve a workable resolution to their concerns," he said.
The site was established in the 1850s with the silos used to store malting grain used in beer production.
A proposed redevelopment, including residential apartments, is in the pipeline for the Cremorne address.
Mr Stratton said Caydon has been waiting more than 12 months for City of Yarra to endorse plans, allowing works at the site to begin.