Heritage History in Essendon – North Park Mansion – Under Threat

North Park is an extraordinary example of an early Melbourne mansion, a grand property that to this day remains in relatively pristine heritage condition. For those amongst you who may have missed our original posted blog on the property back in April of 2018, we reprint it here…

North Park Mansion is built upon ‘the highest point in Essendon’. The land was purchased in 1887 by Mr Alexander McCracken for the sum of 5000 pounds. Architects Oakden, Addison and Kemp designed the house for Mr McCracken, and Mr D Sinclair built the rather grand home, described as being in the Queen Anne revival style.

Alexander McCracken was described as ‘a brewer and a sportsman’. He had joined the family brewery firm ‘McCrackens’ as a junior partner in 1884.

The crash of the 1890s all but destroyed the company. It did however keep trading, avoiding liquidation. In May 1907 McCrackens and five other brewing firms became a merged company – known as Carlton and United Breweries. Alexander McCracken was made a director.

McCracken was the genial spokesman for the brewing industry from early in his career in 1891 through until his death in 1915. The irony? He died from cirrhosis of the liver.

During his lifetime he was President of the Essendon Football Club and then the first President of the Victorian Football League. He raced horses with some success and indulged in a myriad of other activities in the region of Essendon – all manner of sports, debating and a keen interest in poultry, pigeons and canaries.

In 1915, his widow sold off the remaining North Park Estate lands – only the Mansion and six acres remained. The Mansion was first sold to Mr Harvey Patterson, a BHP executive. In turn Mr Patterson on sold it to its current owners – the Columban Order – a Catholic Church Missionary Order.

The house is built utilising Red Northcote Bricks, Sandstone from Waurn Ponds (near Geelong), Basalt from Malmsbury and roofing tiles imported from Marseilles in France.

As previously mentioned this rather elaborate home was constructed in a Queen Anne Revival Style – red bricks for the walls and timbering with rough cast in the gables, orange terracotta tiles, ornamental barge boards, decorative finials and chimneys and ornate glazing.

It was in fact a riot of architectural styles, a combination of Scottish Baronial, French, Victorian and Tudor. Or perhaps ‘Tudor with modifications’. By all accounts it was truly the home of a big spending, articulate brewer – Alexander McCracken. A spacious ballroom, since converted to be a chapel, was added in the early 20th Century. The Columban Order added a new wing in 1966 and an office building replaced the original stables in 1968. The Coach House is substantially retained. And stranger than fiction – from 1923 onwards, it has been a virtual monastery. The building was added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 1997 – for both the building and its ‘gardenesque style’.

“The former North Park is architecturally important in demonstrating a high degree of creative achievement, being a pioneering example of the Queen Anne Revival domestic architecture in Australia. This style became the dominant expression in Australian domestic architecture in the decades immediately before and after 1900. The house is architecturally important for its use of imported Marseilles terracotta roof tiles in possibly their first application in Australia. Made by the French company, Guichard Carvin de Cie, St Andr, these unique tiles feature the firm’s signature bee imprint. The interior is architecturally important for its rich decoration including multi-coloured pressed metal ceilings, plaster friezes, timber panelling, encaustic tiling and elaborate stained and coloured glass. Other important extant detail includes ornate door knobs and push plates, and gas light hardware. Three ornately carved chairs in the entrance hall dating from the McCracken ownership are important for their continued association with the house.”

“The grounds of North Park are of aesthetic importance as an outstanding example of the gardenesque style and for the unusual three curved terraces, wide drive, garden path remains, and the evergreen trees and large conifers which contribute to the picturesque profile of the overall composition. The circular fish pond (disused) with its central figurine fountain and random rubble base is of unusual design and an important garden element now uncommon in Victoria. The location of this structure opposite the ballroom bay window is an important design feature. The cast iron gates, fence and hand gate supported by dressed bluestone are of an outstanding design, with particularly large spears and large scale iron members. The coach house and gardener’s shed are important contributions to the interpretation of a late nineteenth century large house and garden.” source: vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au

Source: https://balancearchitecture.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/grand-old-mansions-of-essendon-recycled-as-religious-headquarters-and-girls-grammar-schools/

‘North Park’ is an extremely interesting ornate building with cast iron features, ornate stone and brickwork and lavish stained glass windows. It has remained remarkably intact since the Columban Order purchased the property in 1923.

The grounds are particularly unique and herein lies the major problem. The Columban Order has seemingly been given some misinformed advice. Their quest to build 25 townhouses on part of the gardens is at odds with the Victorian Heritage Council’s assessment of the grounds and the gardens.

The estate grounds retain much of its original form, with a sweeping drive from the front gates on Woodland Street and the front of the house overlooking three curved terraces which are symmetrical about a central axis with the main towered entrance. The planting is a fine example of the Gardenesque style developed by John Claudius Loudon (1783 – 1843) in the early Nineteenth Century to display plants for their individual beauty. The grounds contain many mature trees which were planted when “North Park” was first constructed including; a pair of Himalayan Cedars, cypress trees, palm trees (almost as tall as the house itself) and a huge Moreton Bay Fig. All are surrounded by beds full of perennials which border a number of terraced lawns.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/40262251@N03/6115422905/

The Property is now under threat. From The Age dated August 25th…

Catholic mission faces fight over plan to ‘carve up’ Essendon mansion

A residents’ group is opposing a Catholic mission’s multimillion-dollar plan to sell off its 19th century Essendon mansion and build a home for old priests in the grounds.

The St Columban’s Mission Society has applied to Heritage Victoria and Moonee Valley Council for permits to subdivide the grounds of North Park mansion.

Michael Whelan, Romy Pane and Gena O’Keeffe are a part of a group who oppose plans to sell North Park.

Proceeds from the sale of the heritage-listed 132-year-old mansion and most of its grounds will fund a $10 million office and apartments for Catholic priests.

The society plans to sell 90 per cent of the 20,000-square metre property, including the mansion.

It is seeking planning approval for 25 townhouses on some of that land.

On the 2000 square metres the society will retain, it plans to build a three-storey building to house its offices, and 16 apartments for elderly priests to live in.

Sale of the mansion and grounds could raise as much as $18 million.

The society’s regional bursar Michael Mooney said more than $10 million of the (estimated before the COVID-19 pandemic) $18 million proceeds of the mansion and land sales would fund construction of the new office and apartment building for priests.

The remainder would go towards the society’s work with disadvantaged people in 15 countries including Peru, Myanmar and the Philippines.

But a local residents’ group, Save North Park, objects to the site being ”carved up” and wants governments to buy the site for community use.

Spokesman Michael Whelan said it could be a cultural hub like Abbotsford Convent.

He called on the community “to rally as one and object to the proposed plans and for the community to have an active role in the future of this property”.

A Saint Columbans Mission Property Association report, which is part of the application to the council, described the mansion as “not suitable for Columbans in retirement”.

The priests’ current mansion rooms were “boarding house style” with single bedrooms, not all with ensuite, and meals taken in a common dining area.

However each flat in the new building would have two bedrooms, a bathroom, living area, and kitchen.

They would enable residents to entertain and have family over.

“This has become the norm elsewhere, for example, for retiring Catholic priests,” the report says.

The Save North Park group, however, proposes either a reduction in what it calls “excessive development” of the site, or “ideally for the entire site to be purchased by government to make it a place for all to enjoy”.

“We do not want to see this valuable asset carved up, obscured and diminished,” the group said in a statement.

The group opposes the proposed removal of 97 trees, which sustain animals such as possums, bats and magpies.

The mansion, built in 1888 for brewer and inaugural VFL president Alexander McCracken, has been owned by the St Columbans order since 1923.

The Victorian Heritage Register listing describes a “large, two-storey, picturesque residence” in the Queen Anne Revival style, set on Essendon’s highest point.

Members of the public can make submissions to Moonee Valley council [LINNK: https://mvcc.vic.gov.au/my-council/major-developments/45-69-woodland-street/%5D, however a date has not been set for deliberation on the matter.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/national/victoria/catholic-mission-faces-fight-over-plan-to-carve-up-essendon-mansion-20200824-p55orz.html

The property must remain intact and complete. For its north western location, it’s right up there with some of Melbourne’s other grand old mansions such as Werribee Park and Banyule House – It’s an intricate piece of the city’s Architectural history and as such must be preserved.

For this reason, Balance Architecture supports the ‘Save North Park’ Group and will strive to assist them in their endeavours to preserve the full property as an intact entity

There have been numerous occasions over the last 120 years where Church bodies have simply destroyed beautiful heritage homes without consequence. In recent years, the St Vincent’s Orphanage development in South Melbourne and the St Vincent’s Hospital Development project in Fitzroy are two prime examples of this.

In this case, with the North Park Mansion to be sold, it would seem that with the financial return envisaged, there is little or no reason the 25 planned townhouses could not be built elsewhere to accommodate the needs of the priests.

The Heritage Listing is quite clear so it would appear most unlikely that the proposed development of a 3 storey impediment to the panoramic view of Melbourne’s skyline and the inherent destruction of the ‘Gardenesque’ grounds admired in the listing have any chance of successfully being challenged by the Colomban Society for a waiver of the Heritage Listing or its intent.

But stay tuned for further updates. This will likely be a battle, unless common sense prevails. No doubt the building will appeal to many possible suitors. However, will they respect the heritage? It’s a difficult situation.

(Footnote: The author’s father restored the gardens at North Park in the late 1950s and early 1960s)

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Save these Heritage Treasures in Albert Park and North Balwyn

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It’s been some time since we have discussed some of the ongoing Heritage disputes here in Victoria. What’s entirely disappointing is the return of several development battles we considered safe. Not the case – we are up for round two and the first of these is in Albert Park.

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Previous rejected design for 1 Victoria Ave

No. 1 Victoria Avenue Albert Park. Last year the Developers – the Saade Group, were defeated at a VCAT hearing on their plans to demolish the existing building and replace it with what could only be described as an oversized ‘Birthday Cake’ of a building. The plan for the new building was rejected at VCAT as entirely inappropriate for the location given that it is an important component of the existing Heritage Overlay.

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New proposed design for 1 Victoria Ave

Read about last years battle and victory here…

The developers have submitted a new design to Council and are seeking to demolish the existing original building and replace it with something equally and as oddly out of context with the areas Heritage overlay as the previous proposed ‘development’ but one storey lower in height . The new design is in no way in sympathy with the existing streetscape or heritage vista.This proposed building is literally just over one block from St Vincents Place and the St Vincents Gardens!

The second property at risk is a significant Robin Boyd designed house in North Balwyn. The agent’s advertising pitch offers ‘vacant land’ for those purchasing the property.

Here is a recent report from ArchitectureAU…

Significant Robin Boyd house at risk of demolition

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A house designed by Robin Boyd in Melbourne’s eastern suburb of North Balwyn is at risk of demolition after the property was listed for sale and described as an opportunity to buy “vacant land” by the estate agent Fletchers.

A petition initiated by Melbourne academic and practitioner Jacqui Alexander calls on Boroondara Council to heritage protect the home and prevent it from demolition.

“It is a tragedy that this important example of post-war Australian modernism looks likely to succumb to the same fate as many other significant homes in Boroondara,” Alexander said in the petition.

“Architecturally significant homes from this era are being razed in Eastern suburbs like Balwyn at an alarming rate, only to be replaced with mass-produced and over-scaled mock-heritage mansions with no architectural or contextual value. These new developments come at the expense of our architectural heritage, the character of our streetscapes and the biodiversity of Melbourne’s leafy suburbs.”

A 2015 heritage study of Balwyn and North Balwyn prepared for the council identified the house as “a significant place in the City of Boorandara.”

The house was originally designed for pharmacist Don Woods and built in 1949 and is situated cross two lots at 12–14 Tannock Street.

It is one of the few remaining examples of Boyd’s early work as a sole practitioner prior to his partnership with Roy Grounds and Frederick Romberg. It is also one of three examples in the area that “provide rare and valuable evidence of the innovation, boldness and fresh design approaches of a young architect on the cusp of an illustrious career.”

Published in Australian Home Beautiful in October 1950, it was celebrated for its split level planning and its small footprint that “takes full advantage of space and outlook.” The Woods commission Boyd to extend the house twice, first in 1959 with two more bedrooms, a recreation room and a flat-roofed garage, and again 1971 with an addition across the street frontage. Both additions created seamless transitions between the old and the new.

When it was first sold in 1985, it was labelled as “timeless,” and “an outstanding work of contemporary design” by the estate agent.

The petition, on Change.org, has had more than 5610 signatures at the time of publication.

Source: architectureau.com

The property is in the area of Boroondara Council. The council (along with Bayside Council) has an appalling record in the preservation of Heritage properties within its boundaries.

This is a prime example of the neglect of Heritage listings by Local Government officials. It is their responsibility to ensure that Heritage Listings and overlays are both accurate and up to date. It’s otherwise way too easy to apply for a demolition permit which can be actioned whilst the Heritage Council of Victoria, which is under-financed and also understaffed considers the merit of the proposed Heritage overlay or listing.

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Yarrawonga Town Hall

Currently we are investigating a curious case in Yarrawonga. There the local shire is looking to place an ultra-modern designed library building next to a rather unique Art Deco design Yarrawonga Town Hall. In doing so it will destroy the local community centre but perhaps it will be sadder to see such a beautiful old building juxtaposed with against an ultra-modern design. More to come in the next few weeks.

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For the Albert Park property – 1 Victoria Ave, you can lodge an objection with the Port Phillip Council planning division. Here’s a link to the Don’t Destroy Albert Park website.

For the Robin Boyd Petition please go to change.org/p/b-save-robin-boyd-s-tannock-st-house and add your signature.

Balance Architecture stridently believes in the full protection of our Architectural and historical Heritage and encourages all our followers and readers to make your thoughts known to those who would destroy it.

Heritage is more than our past – it’s who we really are.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Update of the Botanical Gardens of Ballarat’s new Fernery.

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Work on the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Heritage Fernery is now well underway. This time we feature some of the more up to date and finalised drawings for your interest. Yes, this will be in fact the entrance to the overall Fernery precinct in the gardens. When complete with Stage 2, the curators of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens will be furnishing the growing space and habitat with exotic ferns from around the world as well as the more familiar native species and epiphytes such as Birdsnest, Staghorn and Elkhorn ferns.

The Fernery will add an immensely exciting visage to these popular gardens. The new design from Andrew Fedorowicz of Balance Architecture, is faithful to the original Fernery design providing a beautiful heritage perspective, in keeping with its surrounds and those of old Ballarat town.

The ‘New’ Fernery is a reproduction of the older original fernery that was so much a part of the older Ballarat Gardens of the 19th Century. It is faithful in its homage to the Gothic lines and stunning vista of the older fernery and has been designed with the cooperation and assistance of the Heritage Council of Victoria.

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The new Fernery Design is in keeping with the original fernery and its heritage values.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens Fernery – Construction commences

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Balance Architecture is pleased to announce the commencement of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Fernery project. First designed and submitted for approval back in 2018 and 2019, the project is now underway – constructed specifically to the drawing and plans of Balance Architecture and its principal Architect Mr Andrew Fedorowicz (FAIA).

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Here’s a previous report to refresh your memories as to the unique nature of this exciting project.

Victoria has a fine heritage of Botanical Gardens established in the Nineteenth Century under the stewardship of Baron Von Mueller of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens.

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The Ballarat Botanical Gardens were gazetted by the then Government in 1857 and developed from 1858 onwards. The land was originally known as the ‘Old Police Paddock’ site and was some 40 hectares. Balance Architecture have now been engaged to assist in restoring the original Fernery, a substantial and important feature of the Gardens first constructed in 1887. The building featured extensive ornate timber mouldings, gothic in style, and was attended by several striking marble statues of Italian origin at its entrance. [A gift of 12 such statues was originally provided in 1884 by local stockbroker Mr Thomas Stoddart.]

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Ballarat was in fact ‘the city of Gold’ and the largesse from mining created many extraordinary buildings and edifices in old Ballarat. The Botanical Gardens adjoined Lake Wendouree (formerly Yuilles Swamp) and, as the 19th Century progressed, provided an elegant and well-tended public park where couples and families would stroll its promenades on weekends to ‘take in the airs’. Of the buildings of that time, the most significant original building still remaining in the gardens is the Statutory Pavilion housing the ‘Flight from Pompeii’ collection of sculptures.

The site was developed in three distinct sections – the Central ‘Botanic’ Gardens and two areas known as the North and South Gardens. With a strong linear design, the Central Gardens were designed with four north south promenades or walkways enabling a leisurely stroll for Victorian era families on a Sunday in their finery. The Fernery provided a lush green oasis to retreat to from the heat of the day. Once time to return home, a tramway through the park serviced visitors who could then return home in comfort.

The restoration of the original 19th Century Fernery is the latest project initiated by the Ballarat City Council to restore these magnificent gardens to their original glory.

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The restoration of the original 19th Century Fernery will occur in two stages. Once completed the site will enhance the annual Begonia festival with another opportunity to display these unique florals complemented by the year round collection of ferns, epiphytes and orchids. It is an exciting project, one that Balance Architecture’s principal Architect Mr Andrew Fedorowicz is proud to be associated with. As the works progress, Balance will provide our readers with regular updates. Heritage is so important to our character, our identity. Ballarat was the real epicentre of the state’s development last century almost entirely funded by Gold. In summer whilst sitting adjacent to Lake Wendouree enjoying the cool zephyrs of an afternoon breeze, you may just make out the soft images of our forebears and their children sitting on the grass, playing amongst the flowerbeds, cooling off in the fernery. It was a beautiful place, an idyll and it soon will be again.

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Source: Balance Architecture

At the moment we are investigating the current status of Number One, Victoria Avenue, Albert Park. Both the National Trust and Port Phillip Council recognise the heritage significance of this building. The Developers who own the property have submitted a further plan to demolish and erect a new building. The Save Albert Park Committee, a residents group, is again fighting this move. Last year the group was successful in VCAT in having the site preserved. This is a very important battle, and we will keep you informed with further updates over the next few weeks.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Stay the “****” at Home!

Plan for the Future with Balance Architecture.

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With the lockdown restrictions now spreading to rural Victoria, many more people will be spending a lot more time at home. Out of adversity comes opportunity. Why not use the time wisely and prepare a plan to re-develop your home, to create the space you desire and need, and to reshape the basics in your living areas to meet the demands of modern living.

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For many this is the ideal time to consult with an architect. Discover the art of the possible. Make sure you have covered all the contingencies. This is doubly important if you live in a property that is heritage listed or part of an area covered by a heritage overlay.

It’s entirely appropriate to seek a highly experienced and qualified architect, one with a successful track record in both large scale heritage renovations as well as modern makeovers that harmonise with the architecture of the past.

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Andrew Fedorowicz is one such Architect. Andrew is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects. He is innovative, practical and makes brilliant use of space. Today, the demand is to extend your living areas outwards into external entertainment areas – outdoor kitchens, dining areas, yet with the ability to close off the bifold doors and maintain an even temperature within. Solar power, water reticulation, data systems – it’s the art of the possible.

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But at the same time, it’s also possible to restore that ironwork, the decorative tiling, the corinthian arches, the decorative plaster mouldings, the slate roofs and much more. Restore the verandahs, add stained glass to add authenticity.

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Create a beautiful garden and interior to match the architecture. But most important, do it with a professional plan; proper architectural drawings, appropriate permits and a costed budget.

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Call Andrew Fedorowicz now. Arrange for a Zoom, Skype, Messenger or Whatsapp meeting – or if permitted a site meeting and inspection.

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Call now on 0418 341 443 or alternatively 03 8696 9700 during business hours (mention Balance Architecture please). You can leave your contact details here if you prefer and you will receive a prompt reply to your enquiry.

Balance Architecture – the very best in Architecture and Interior Design

Heritage Protection – It’s time to act.

Heritage protection of Melbourne’s fabulous older buildings remains a challenge in 2020. In January, the State Government acknowledged that the ‘Corkman Cowboys’ have thumbed their nose at the agreements and requirements those developers had entered into. The State Government has now initiated new legal actions against them. This consists of an enforcement order brought jointly by the State Government and the City of Melbourne at VCAT to ensure the developers deliver on their promises. As yet, they have not.

The reality is that heritage protection in this state remains fairly weak with legislation hamstrung by the inaction of local councils in maintaining Heritage overlays and databases in their areas of control. Some examples of this are Bayside City Council and its intransigence on the protection of the midterm modern architecture in Beaumaris and Black Rock, and the ongoing rolling heritage disputes in the Booroondara Council areas.

Here’s a recent synopsis of the situation in Bayside as published in the Age Newspaper

National Trust slams Bayside Council’s ‘deplorable action’ on heritage sites

Planning Minister Richard Wynne is being urged to intervene to protect unique mid-century heritage in the City of Bayside – home to some of the best post-war architecture in the state – following the “devastating” demolition of two homes last week.

The National Trust has called for urgent action after the “tragic and unnecessary” demolition of the award-winning Breedon House in Brighton, which was designed by architect Geoffrey Woodfall and built in 1966.

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Beaumaris Modern president Fiona Austin in front of The Abrahams House

Chief executive Simon Ambrose said the modernist house had been left unprotected due to the “deplorable actions” of Bayside Council, which had “for many years abrogated its responsibilities … to ensure the conservation of places of heritage significance”.

A mid-century home in Nautilus Street, Beaumaris, that was designed by architect Charles Bricknell was also demolished last week, despite objections from the National Trust and community association Beaumaris Modern.

And a third modernist home – The Abrahams House on Beach Road, Beaumaris – is also in jeopardy, with an application to build townhouses on the site before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Beaumaris Modern president Fiona Austin said the houses would have been protected if Bayside Council had not abandoned heritage studies in 2008 and 2018.

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The Abrahams family in front of their one-time home

“This week in Bayside has been devastating for our architectural heritage,” Ms Austin said.

Heritage studies would have identified the best examples of the mid-century period, with a planning scheme amendment prepared to permanently protect them. This approach is taken by almost all other councils.

However, the council abandoned the heritage study in 2018 after some residents hit out when told their homes would be put on an interim heritage overlay until the study was completed.

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The award-winning Breedon House in Brighton

“As soon as the letters were put in letterboxes, all hell broke loose,” Bayside mayor Clarke Martin told The Age. “It descended into a horrible situation, where people were literally yelling at each other in the streets.”
Cr Martin said some home owners feared the interim heritage overlay would make renovating difficult, drive down property values and mean they couldn’t sell their homes.

“What underlined the whole thing was the view that it is your castle, you should be able to do with it what you like.”

Cr Martin said the process was so divisive the council paused the heritage study and instead invited property owners to nominate their homes for heritage protection on a voluntary register.

He said the voluntary process had identified eight private homes and 11 council properties in Beaumaris, which the council had submitted to Mr Wynne for approval.

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The mid-century home in Nautilus Street, Beaumaris

He said once these were given protection, the council would restart the heritage study.

However, the National Trust said it was aware of more than 100 places of heritage significance in the City of Bayside that remained unprotected and were at risk.

“Mid century homes are an important part of our history and utilised groundbreaking construction methods, innovative approaches to open-plan living and connections to the landscape,” said Mr Ambrose.

“The Bayside area in particular was a hotbed of architectural expression and experimentation and has one of the best collections of post-war architecture in Victoria, if not Australia.”

The National Trust and Beaumaris Modern have written to the Planning Minister urging him to intervene to protect heritage in Bayside.

Mr Ambrose said he requested that Mr Wynne use his ministerial powers to apply interim heritage overlays to places identified in previous heritage studies.

He said this would be done with a view to pursuing permanent protection through a planning scheme amendment. “[This] allows everyone – including home owners – to have a say.”

Mr Wynne said councils were responsible for protecting their local heritage and this was yet another example of their failure to do so.

“If the council considered these houses to be of local significance, they had the means to protect them and the demolition permits should never have been issued,” he said.

Source: theage.com.au

In Booroondara, the gap between Heritage Overlay approval and the protection of a property by a Victorian Heritage Council listing has meant a number of buildings have been demolished with impunity. The demolition permits were issued prior to the Heritage Overlays being approved and applied.

There needs to be an entire overhaul of Heritage protection in Victoria. Many councils are still running with Heritage Listings first applied in the 1980s and 1990s. It is imperative that these listings are kept up to date. Without an up to date Council Heritage listing all such buildings are vulnerable.

The situation has been allowed to slip whilst under the stewardship of both major political parties. There is one simple reason these issues are more often than not consigned to the ‘too hard’ basket – money. Those wishing to develop in these Council areas often represent a significant increase in rateable property income per property – e.g. Strata Title replacing single occupancy. On particular Local Councils, the developers hold major influence.

The National Trust, the Victorian Heritage Councils and the Heritage Inspection processes are heavily underfunded. With only limited staff, inspections that should take weeks, can be delayed for years.

The Real Estate Industry and the Building and Construction sector have good reasons to turn away – the simple answer is profitability. If heritage supporters want significant change then it will be necessary to strongly lobby both the State Government and individual Local Councils to do much more.

In the case of the State Government there needs to be much stronger funding of the Heritage Council of Victoria and Heritage Victoria. These organisations and the State Government Planning Department have the capacity to implement much more effective heritage policy, and for the Planning Department to provide far more realistic funding to these two organisations.

If you know of a Heritage property anywhere in Victoria currently under threat, please don’t hesitate to message us, or alternatively leave a message on our website and we will investigate and publicise the dispute.

Balance Architecture is committed to ensuring Heritage Architecture and listed buildings receive maximum protection and given due respect and recognition by both Government and Local Government Authorities. Heritage is who we are as a population, it’s where we’ve come from, and it’s the true basis on which future generations will rely to acknowledge our growth and diversity as a city and a State.

It’s time to ensure real protection, to value it, and to celebrate it.

Heritage in Victoria – Time for Action.

Over the last few years it has become increasingly obvious that there is a need for a stronger lobby group in presenting the arguments, the cases for retention and protection of heritage buildings in Greater Melbourne and Victoria.

Right now, the Government agencies responsible for such protections are simply overwhelmed with the sheer volume of requests for Heritage protection. The budget allocated to Heritage Victoria and the heritage Council of Victoria seems to be inadequate.

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‘Forres’ at 9-11 Edward Street, Kew, torn down in July 2016

 

Heritage has become a political football. The public and our grand heritage inheritance are the losers. Countless buildings are demolished whilst Heritage overlays are investigated by the Heritage Council. Without publicity, the problem is hidden and the solution becomes moot – often the building just simply disappears. There are loopholes upon loopholes. The recent events in Booroondara bear testament to this.

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Currajong House in Hawthorn was saved from demolition by Planning Minister Richard Wynne in May

Beautiful residential dwellings in Kew, Toorak, Hawthorn, Elsternwick, Caulfield North, Black Rock and Beaumaris have been destroyed. Old Hotels built in the 1880s, modified in the 1920s to an art nouveau style have been demolished. Why? Well, because their original architecture was diminished. What about the fabulous Art Nouveau transformations? Look at the Greyhound Hotel in St Kilda and the London in Port Melbourne, both now vacant blocks.

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Greyhound Hotel, St Kilda

 

At Balance Architecture, we are passionate about Heritage Architecture. The richness of Victorian era opulence engendered by the 1850s Gold Rush, the extraordinary craft and skill in the simple yet intricate details of masonry, tiling, slate roofing, monochromatic brickwork, stained glass windows – the Ballroom and Staterooms. The drawing rooms, the huge and impressive stairwells – the symmetry, the grace.

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The Toorak mansion bought for $18.5 million and razed. The empty block is now on the market for $40 million

Over the last few years we have brought you the passing vista of homes and buildings saved and preserved, of those that are derelict and in need of restoration, and of those demolished and gone forever.

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A bulldozer moves in on 368 Auburn Road

We now arrive at a crossroads. It is time for genuine action. We propose the formulation of a new group. The purpose of the group will be to lobby the government (State) to improve Heritage protections, to ensure Heritage Overlays across the entire state are up to date and to commit to the ongoing protection of our precious Heritage assets.

We are aware of other groups operating within the same arena but want to apply a more modern approach utilising online and social media opportunities to not only demonstrate the community depth of feeling on the issue, but to focus the various local groups into a strong voice for Heritage stability and protection.

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This house on Burwood Road, Hawthorn East is set to be demolished

Preparing for Heritage Listings can be both a daunting prospect and a set of difficult procedures. Quite frankly it shouldn’t be, and this is one of the objectives we believe we must work towards – a simplification of the processes combined with much increased funding to the state government bodies charged with doing the relevant inspections and determining the Heritage listings or otherwise.

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In many cases, the ultimate process will find its way to VCAT or a higher court. Often it is Heritage that is the loser. Time’s up on that nonsense. No more Corkman Fiascos, no more Currajong interventions.

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The Corkman Hotel, prior to its illegal demolition.

 

Let’s get a clear, open process in place. Let’s call all parties to the table – Architects, Developers, Residents and Bureaucrats, Council officials, Heritage Council officials and the National Trust – and politicians of all persuasions.

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55 Seymour Rd

It’s five past midnight and it’s time to act. Keep watching our page. We will provide details of a new group for those genuinely interested in Heritage protection. You will be able to join up on Facebook and then we can broaden the base from there. We will announce the new page here soon.

Heritage is our history, our persona, our character – the people of Victoria own it. Time to claim it.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Heritage Protection – the challenge is financial.

Victoria is fortunate in that State Government politicians have a bipartisan approach to heritage protection. To a major extent political parties, Local Government and the public agree on the majority of established Heritage listed properties being protected. The issue here is the updating and strengthening of protections for those buildings and properties either undergoing Heritage inspection and/or those not currently heritage listed.

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In Tasmania there is a different problem. Capital is scarce in Tasmania and the value put upon Heritage classification is definitely not uniform. The current Government, as can be seen by its pro-development stance on the Treasury Buildings in Hobart is less than enthusiastic in truly protecting Heritage buildings in the State. Add to that Local Government Councils that seemingly have little or no understanding of Heritage values and you have a disaster in the offing.

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From the ABC…

Tasmania is full of heritage-listed sites, but are they worth saving?

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The Hunters Hotel in Tasmania has seen better days

In the heart of Queenstown on Tasmania’s remote west coast stands a forest green hotel, framed with gold trimmings and a grand wooden balcony that overlooks the township.

The Hunters Hotel has a historic past, with its balcony serving as a stage for many speeches throughout its life.

In the early 1900s, workers’ rights advocate and Labor MP King O’Malley spoke from the balcony to the people in the street below.

Then in 1912, amidst the tragedy of the North Lyell mine fire where 42 men lost their lives, the community was given updates from the balcony.

But now this piece of history is facing the possibility of destruction.

The West Coast Council has issued an emergency order for the owners to dismantle the sagging balcony due to safety concerns.

West Coast Mayor, Phil Vickers said the owners have 28 days to make a decision.

“It’s a private property that has a verandah that is built over the top of a council footpath,” he said.

“It’s heritage-listed and we’ve had an engineers report that demonstrates that it needs to be either re-engineered and fixed up or dismantled.”

The owners and concerned members of the community are desperately trying to save the balcony.

One resident has started a crowdfunding page, but only $1,800 of the required $35,000 has been raised so far.

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Ralph Wildenauer says he has tried to do work himself, but health setbacks mean he needs to hire labour

Hotel owner Ralph Wildenauer said he was planning to fix the balcony next year after the rest of the hotel had been opened for business to raise the necessary funds.

“I was doing most of the work and last year I had a major stroke, so I’m not able to do work anymore and it means we have to employ people to finish everything off, which is very expensive,” Mr Wildenauer said.

Heritage sites held together with ‘sticky tape and glue’

Tasmania has the highest concentration of heritage sites of anywhere in Australia.

“Anyone that owns a heritage site knows that you just keep throwing buckets of money at it and that’s just the nature of the beast,” Matthew Smithies of the National Trust said.

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Clarendon House looks good on the surface

Heritage sites held together with ‘sticky tape and glue’

Tasmania has the highest concentration of heritage sites of anywhere in Australia.

“Anyone that owns a heritage site knows that you just keep throwing buckets of money at it and that’s just the nature of the beast,” Matthew Smithies of the National Trust said.

In Tasmania, the National Trust has eight sites ranging from Home Hill, the family home of former Australian Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, to Hobart’s Convict Penitentiary.

However, the cost to maintain and preserve these heritage assets is huge.

Mr Smithies said the National Trust has a bit of a legacy at the moment of maintenance and conservation works that are well overdue.

“We’ve got about $3.5 million worth of conservation works that we need to carry out immediately, and raising that funding is difficult,” he said.

Clarendon House, in the north of the state, is in desperate need of maintenance and restoration — some of the building’s walls being reduced to rubble, issues with the staircase that is no longer straight and a basement that is cracked from a flood that occurred five years ago.

“From an engineers report that we’ve received, we’re actually going to lose the front face of Clarendon in the not-too-distant future,” Mr Smithies said.

The Tasmanian Branch of the National Trust has found its priority list is constantly changing due to the rapid rate their heritage sites have been deteriorating.

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A floor is in ruins inside Clarendon House, a heritage-listed site in Tasmania’s north

Last year, the Launceston City Council told them to close the Franklin House site to the public due to safety issues with a wall.

“The convict-built, brick boundary wall at Franklin House was at the brink of toppling over, causing a lot of occupational health and safety concerns as it was a boundary wall with our neighbours and at the eleventh hour we did manage to get some funding from both Launceston Council and the State Government,” Mr Smithies said.

To minimise the loss of heritage during the wall dismantlement, each brick was numbered, catalogued and photographed as it was removed.

Contemporary foundations were then laid before the wall was rebuilt, with each brick placed in its original spot.
‘Mould everywhere, mushrooms growing on the floors’

The owners of the Hunters Hotel have faced the same problem when it came to the maintenance and preservation of their heritage-listed building.

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The balcony of Hunters Hotel is in desperate need of repair

Mr Wildenauer and his wife took over the hotel more than two years ago, but before that, it had been abandoned for almost 20 years.

“You know, twenty years of leaking roofs and missing windows, there was mould growing everywhere, there were mushrooms growing on the floors, it was really, really bad,” he said.

“If we hadn’t started working on it, by now huge sections would have collapsed, you know ceilings would have come down, roofs would have come down.”

Mr Wildenauer believes if he had used professionals to work on the structure, it would have cost close to $1 million.

He tried to obtain multiple grants to help fund the needed work restorations but has been unsuccessful so far.

Cr Vickers said that small councils could not afford to help everyone, especially when the building is private property.

“It’s a historic building and we have lots of historic buildings that are in private ownership within our district, we can’t help everyone,” he said.

But the National Trust said it was a challenge for people who were custodians of heritage in both the private and public sectors.

“There is a bigger discussion that needs to be had around how we can keep our heritage assets standing,” Mr Smithies said.
What’s worth saving?

Due to limited funding, maintainers of heritage sites within the state have to decide which assets should be maintained.

Mr Smithies said it was hard to put a price on heritage.

“It’s what makes towns and cities and villages different from one another,” he said.

“I’m from Sydney, so the greater western suburbs, where they’ve just built these matchbox houses side by side, they’re absolutely soulless and I don’t think people particularly want to live like that.”

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A staircase at historic Clarendon House near Launceston has visible cracks and mould

Those within heritage management asses value by looking at what stories are linked to the asset.

Mr Smithies said there were some wonderful collections at the National Trust that would fetch a high price at auction, with some even gaining international interest.

But his favourite heritage asset is a 120-year-old kerosene tin that he believes is worth about 50 cents.

“Someone’s cut the front out and put a candle in … it comes from a farm of a well-known agricultural family and it was the kerosene tin that they used to go down to the dairy when there was calving,” he said.

“How do you measure significance? Is it the stories behind it or is it the bean counter? What is its commercial value?”

For Mr Wildenauer, although the Hunters Hotel is expensive to maintain, its history is priceless.

“Once that balcony is gone, it will be gone forever, the history will be gone with it,” he said.

“OK, they might have saved a few beams and a few bits and pieces, but it’s not going to be the same balcony if they rebuild it and the cost of rebuilding is going to be way, way more than the cost of repairing it.

“It’s not always a viable thing to restore these buildings, but to let them collapse is even worse.”

Source: abc.net.au

Heritage protection and Heritage values should not vary from State to State. In Melbourne when one of the oldest remaining buildings in the CBD was in imminent danger of collapse, its inhabitants too old and infirm to take action, the City of Melbourne stepped in and provided reinforcing whilst funding and plans for its restoration was determined. It’s still braced, located at the corner of King St and Latrobe St.

It’s time to evolve a national approach to our Heritage buildings and properties, create a funding model and provide significant education from an early age to enable people to realise the true value of such neglected buildings.

Heritage is precious – protect it.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

The difference in heritage values Cultural Vs Architectural sees the end of Melbourne’s Iconic Metro.

Originally a theatre, now known as the Metro Nightclub, the building was constructed in 1911 replacing the original ‘Queen’s Hall’ attached to the Hotel Douglas.

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To refresh your memories or to provide the basis for discussion, here is a reprint of our blog dated Sept 27th 2017.

The Palace Theatre Melbourne – perhaps you remember it as the Metro Nightclub. Demolition of this well known Melbourne icon was approved in 2016 at VCAT. The interior was illegally demolished without permits in 2014. It is now owned by the Jinshan Investment Group. The group planned to build a 30 storey W Hotel on the site but are now restricted to a 7 storey site after the intervention of the City of Melbourne. Located at 20-30 Bourke St, the venue has a long history in the Entertainment Industry. As it stands, it is slated for demolition at any time.

The Palace Theatre is somewhat of an enigma. Its scenario is not that dissimilar to the Corkman Hotel of Carlton illegally destroyed by developers recently. The building is in fact a large, high roofed theatre. What was significant about it were its internal fittings. In 2014 a contracted demolition company removed the ornate plaster features, facades and balcony decorations, rendering the interior somewhat featureless and undermining any claims of heritage value. One could consider it a ‘tactic’ to enable a party to proceed with a demolition that might otherwise be opposed.

It this case, the venue represents a very valid principle in both planning and preservation. In the view of many – including the City of Melbourne’s representatives, it should be incumbent on the properties owners – Jinshan Investment Group – to restore the interior to its previous state.

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Originally the site was occupied from the late 1850s by the Excelsior Hotel. Hotels at the time were close relations to the Theatre and Theatre companies of the time. The Excelsior had a ‘hall’ attached known as ‘Queen’s Hall’. Vaudeville, boxing and wrestling events were staged there regularly. Name changes occurred in 1875 (Stutt’s Hotel) and 1900 (Hotel Douglas). The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1911 and the land was sold for 32,000 pounds.

In 1911, a new theatre was commissioned by the new owners, to occupy the site. Queensland Architects Eaton and Bates in association with Melbourne Architect Naham Barnet were tasked with designing the new theatre. It featured seating on 3 levels with a large proscenium and very grand ‘curtains of gold’. The theatre incorporated a hotel, the Pastorial, with bedrooms on the first floor.

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The theatre was modified in 1916 with a complete refitting of the lobby and auditorium under the instruction of Architect Henry E White. This involved the addition of ornate plaster mouldings decorating the theatre in a style recognised as ‘Louis Seize’.

Further additions to the decorative style occurred in 1923 when the theatre auditorium was extensively remodelled , retaining the Louis Seize style yet overlaying it with a further Adamesque decoration. Upon completion it reopened as the ‘New Palace’.

In 1934 a further new renovation occurred and the theatre became known as the Apollo. It was renamed again in 1940 – The St James Theatre. 1951 saw it renamed ‘The St James Theatre and Metro’. Now an MGM theatre it became a cinema and showed films exclusively from that studio.

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The street frontage and facade was remodelled in an Art Deco style – designed by a H Vivian Taylor, and to this day the design remains. The Proscenium and side boxes were removed to allow for the installation of a ‘CinemaScope’ screen.

In 1971 it reverted to live theatre with the production ‘Hair’ running for 39 weeks. By 1974 it had reverted to its original name and was a working Cinema – again. 1980-1987 saw it as a Christian Revival Centre run by the Pentecostal Church.

A major refurbishment was undertaken in 1987 by Melbourne Architects ‘Biltmoderne’. From then on it was known as the Metro Nightclub. The Nightclub was sold in 2007. The new owners were the former owners of the Palace live music venue in St Kilda.

They renamed the venue ‘The Palace’. Holding 1850 people, the venue hosted many well known touring groups and musicians over the next 7 years. It was sold to the Chinese Development Group Jinshan in late 2012.

In 2016 opponents to the demolition of the venue finally lost the fight and VCAT ruled that the Demolition should proceed and the redevelopment works go ahead.

Excerpts from Wikipedia

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This is a rather interesting case study. From an architectural viewpoint, much of the original charm of the foyer and auditorium were removed over the years but the very ornate plasterwork remained up until 2014. Additions made in 1987 including stainless steel staircases and galleries could easily have been reverted.

Its claim for heritage value was not on architectural grounds but on cultural grounds. The Bourke St Precinct has strict heritage overlays yet the Developer was prepared to challenge these, even in view of the Windsor result and the location of the Victorian Parliament, with a 30 storey tower – until challenged by Council as to its height.

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According to Professor Graeme Davidson, the Heritage listing (not ratified) for cultural importance was and is well justified.

“This is likely the last surviving expressly built Vaudeville Theatre (Variety Show) in Melbourne.”

The destruction is breathtaking when considering the ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots. In our view this is a glaring example of manipulation of regulations by third parties to gain an outcome that provides little recognition of heritage values. Under the Bourke Hill precinct overlay, the theatre’s internal fitout was protected as was the building’s facade. When the theatre was gutted and the interior demolished – no authority intervened.

Heritage is often more than just the value of the individual aspects of a building. It is the sum total of the history, the usage, the architecture and the decorations of a building. And as with the Corkman in Carlton and the Greyhound Hotel in St Kilda, this time VCAT, you got it wrong.

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What’s your opinion? Should the developers be forced to restore unauthorised demolitions? As it stands we have precious little left to preserve.

Its time Council started to respond and intervene when required. Our city has great character and we must do whatever it takes to retain what is quintessentially Melbourne.

Source: Balance Architecture

So in this instance the application for Heritage Listing was based entirely on the Cultural Heritage of the venue, but as can be seen, the history of the venue is much older and far more impressive that just the cultural heritage. It would appear that under Heritage Victoria’s direction Art Deco is not valued, unless it is specifically mentioned in the Heritage application. Surely the umpire should have stepped in here!

Take a look at the architectural mouldings, the plasterwork, the murals – simply irreplaceable!

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Melbourne’s old vaudeville theatres have all but disappeared. The Tivoli, the Theatre Royal, Sol De Val, the Gaiety and St George’s Hall to name but a few. Bourke St East was the heart of theatre and vaudeville in old Melbourne town. Sadly it’s now lost.

From The Age…

‘Morally outrageous’: After 108 years, demolition of The Metro begins

Demolition of one of Melbourne’s best-loved music venues, The Palace Theatre on Bourke Street, began this week, ending a seven-year public battle to save the venue.

The 108-year old theatre, venue of The Metro nightclub for over 20 years from 1987 as well as a live music hall, played host to artists including James Brown, The Prodigy, Slash, Jane’s Addiction, Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age until its doors shut in 2014.

 

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Demolition of the Palace Theatre in Melbourne commenced this week.

 

With the site to be converted into a Marriott hotel after years of conjecture, councillors and music industry figures have lamented the demolition as an indictment on Victoria’s heritage laws, which they say fail to properly recognise the cultural value of the state’s venues.The Palace was sold in 2012 to Chinese developer Jinshan Investment Group for $11.2 million.

Melbourne City Council approved plans to build a hotel in 2013, which objectors unsuccessfully opposed in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2016, however the site was dormant until the roof was removed in the past fortnight.

Known for its marble staircase and sweeping viewing balconies, photos emerged this week of excavator trucks in the venue, the stage area in rubble and a hole in the roof where a chandelier once hung.

 

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The Metro Nightclub at midnight in January 1992

 

Melbourne City councillor Rohan Leppert, who leads the council’s heritage division, said the 3000-capacity Palace was not previously granted heritage status because renovations had created a “mish-mash of architectural eras”.

“Even though the demolition that’s happening inside the theatre is perfectly legal, it’s still morally outrageous,” Cr Leppert said.

“Our heritage regime still rewards architectural purity above everything else, but the thing that makes The Palace special is the social history of the place, which is so extraordinary. I hope we are never in a situation like this again.”

 

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The Metro nightclub in its heyday

 

Music Victoria chief executive Patrick Donovan said The Palace closure left a “massive gap” in Melbourne for a medium-sized venue with a late-night licence.

“It was an absolutely pivotal venue in the Melbourne music scene,” he said.

“It was a popular weekly alternative music nightclub called Goo for university students, then they had live music shows up to five days a week. I really do believe our heritage laws need a good look at.”

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Heavy heart: You Am I’s Tim Rogers performs at The Metro in 1996

 

The Palace was also used as a cinema, Pentecostal church venue and theatre in its 108-year history. It’s understood the developers will be required to retain its historic facade.

 

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The Palace Theatre is being demolished

 

Mr Donovan said cities such as Vancouver and Toronto in Canada recognised cultural value more than Victoria and said The Palace should be used as a cautionary tale to protect venues such as St Kilda’s The Esplanade and Festival Hall, which survived an initial push for demolition in 2018.

“We don’t need any more apartments in this city, but we do need venues like the Espy and the Palace.”

Rebecca Leslie, spokeswoman for the Save the Palace campaign that has fought the development since 2013, said the demolition’s timing had taken the group by surprise.

“The experience of attending a live band there was incredible. No matter where you stood, you got the most incredible view, with this beautiful 100-year-old building, with all the pictures and fittings around it still intact.”

Source: theage.com.au

It is accepted that many of these buildings (the theatres) would not have lasted until today in terms of Construction, however The Metro had done so until 2012 and put simply the venue was unique.

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As we said before, now we have a 7 storey hotel with 143 rooms, a gym, a swimming pool and a restaurant.

C’est la vie.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

The Repurposing of Heritage Buildings – Skill or Stealth?

In Tasmania, arguably some of Australia’s oldest historic and heritage protected buildings have long enjoyed quite rightful protection from ‘Developers’ and repurposing.

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This would appear to be not the case anymore. The Tasmanian Government is currently undertaking an ‘Expressions of Interest’ on the historic Treasury Buildings complex. The complex was earmarked ‘for sale’ in the 2018 State Budget.

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The Treasury Buildings were constructed over a period of 130 years, with the original buildings being erected in 1824. Every component building of the complex has since been clad in local Sandstone.

For a better understanding of what the Treasury Buildings complex consists of, please consider this decision by Heritage Tasmania. Currently the buildings are publicly owned.

Treasury Complex’s Heritage Values Recognised

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The Tasmanian Heritage Council has initiated a process to better define the historic cultural heritage values of Hobart’s iconic Treasury complex.

‘The Heritage Council is pleased to announce the provisional replacement entry of the Treasury Complex and Public Buildings in the Tasmanian Heritage Register and seek input on this entry after an extensive assessment process’ said Ms Brett Torossi, Chair of the Tasmanian Heritage Council.

‘In making the decision to provisionally enter the Treasury Complex in the Heritage Register, the Heritage Council was conscious of recognising the critical role it has played in shaping the Tasmania over the 19th and 20th Centuries. It was also keen to respond to the Tasmanian Government’s announcement of its plans to release the complex for an alternate use and give interested members of the Tasmanian community the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed entry’.

The Treasury Complex and Public Buildings occupies a prominent block within the city centre of Hobart. It includes a group of eight adjoining and interconnected buildings, principally constructed across the approximately 130 years from 1824 to 1957, as well as the former HEC Substation on the corner of Murray and Davey Streets. The complementary styles and scales of the complex’s buildings, most of which are clad in locally quarried sandstone, give them a strong degree of unity.

Across the 19th and 20th centuries, the complex conveyed an impression of state power and authority. During the early colonial period housed the centralised administration of core government functions within the convict society of Van Diemen’s Land. The Treasury Complex and Public Buildings has been at the centre of Tasmania’s judicial, political and administrative life from the 1820s until the present day, and is of exceptional historic cultural heritage significance.

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At the time the Tasmanian Government announced The Treasury Divestment Project in 2018, the Treasury Complex was recognised as being of historic cultural heritage significance to Tasmania by two entries in the Tasmanian Heritage Register. These entries were for the Public Buildings adjacent to Franklin Square (THR #2468) and the Franklin Square Office Complex (THR# 2516).

In order to better define the heritage values of the Treasury Complex and ensure they are recognised and effectively managed into the future, the Heritage Council decided to create a single, comprehensive, consolidated replacement entry for the Treasury Complex, inclusive of its buildings, sub-surface values and curtilage. As a result of this effort, a new entry for the Treasury Complex and Public Buildings (THR#11734) was provisionally entered in the Heritage Register on 10 December 2019, under provisions contained in Part 4 of the Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995.

This provisional replacement entry is now open for public consultation. Members of the public have 60-days in which to lodge submissions or objections to the entry of this place on the Heritage Register. This is part of the statutory process required under Part 4 of the Heritage Act.

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This process is a two-stage process that entails: the provisional entry of a place in the Heritage Register, written advice to the property owner/s and the local planning authority, a 60-day public consultation period at least 21 days later; and a final decision on the permanent entry of the place by the Heritage Council, with an appeal process available to anyone that lodges a submission.

This public consultation process commences on 8 January 2020 and closes on 8 March 2020. A decision on the permanent entry is expected to be made before the end of April 2020. The Heritage Council’s decision will take into consideration any submissions or objections received.

‘I encourage anyone with an interest in the Treasury Complex and Public Buildings to review the new provisional replacement entry on our website and provide us with their feedback.’ For a copy of the provisional replacement entry click here.

Source: heritage.tas.gov.au

It can be deduced that sections of the Tasmanian Government simply view the historical buildings as an excellent piece of CBD real estate that a profit can be turned on. Equally there are many people Australia-wide who believe these buildings should remain a public asset and be carefully protected.

Heritage Tasmania is calling for submissions and/or objections to its new provisional Heritage Entry on the buildings in question.

Here is the link to that provisional entry for your due consideration and comment.

This type of approach as being adopted by the Tasmanian Government will become far more commonplace as elected representatives look to sell off Government Assets to provide significant financial windfalls.

From the Advocate Newspaper…

Investors sought for historic Tasmanian Treasury building

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Investors are being sought to outline their vision for Hobart’s historic Treasury building.

Finance Minister Michael Ferguson said it was important prospective investors were able to undertake due diligence on the site before presenting a concept plan that aligned with the project objectives agreed with the community.

He said investors had until April 2 to outline the social economic and environmental contribution their proposals would make.

“Proponents will be expected to highlight their experience and capacity to deliver a project of this scale and heritage significance, consistent with the new Treasury Complex and Public Buildings Conservation Management Plan,” Mr Ferguson said.

“The CMP, which has been finalised in close consultation with Heritage Tasmania and the City of Hobart, and a survey, are available on the website.

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“The survey seeks feedback on whether this comprehensive CMP addresses the issues the community would want the document to cover, and future uses that may be proposed.”

Heritage Tasmania is also undertaking separate public consultations until March 8, 2020, on a single consolidated heritage entry that covers the Treasury buildings, sub-surface values and curtilage, to better define their heritage value.

The historic Treasury building was earmarked for sale by the Tasmanian Government in the 2018 budget.

Source: theadvocate.com.au

A similar article appeared in the Launceston Examiner.

The Tasmanian Treasury building complex is not just a Tasmanian treasure, it is a National Heritage treasure.

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“Re-imagining” seems like a metaphor for “redevelop” to us. It has already been determined the buildings are not suitable for a Hotel.

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Perhaps the Tasmanian Government could look to Victoria for inspiration. The old Customs House in Flinders St has been converted into the Immigration Museum, providing an excellent educational resource for thousands of visitors, schoolchildren and the many, many migrants who have made Australia home. It remains a public building.

And so should the old Hobart Treasury Buildings, an integral part of Australia’s colonial history, a genuine component of this Nation’s heritage and beginnings. Re-imagine that.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.