MHA is sad and disappointed to learn that Heritage Victoria has issued a permit allowing BOTH the demolition of the Princess Mary Club and the construction of a large tower right next to the Wesley Church. A campaign to save the Princess Mary Club and demand a more sympathetic new development gained wide support but has ultimately been ignored by Heritage Victoria. The new tower will sit virtually on top of the bluestone manse. While the permit requires some more room around the manse and church compared to the original plan submitted it still isn’t particularly sympathetic. The site has been under threat for a while now, in fact the PMC was one of the first buildings MHA added to its list of threatened buildings when we first formed five years ago.
The demolition of the Princess Mary Club is a significant blow to Melbourne’s inter-war heritage, and to the streetscape of Lonsdale St. Despite a significant amount of development along Lonsdale over the past 50 years or so, the area around the Wesley Church and the PMC retained a sense of the city in an earlier period. The Princess Mary Club was built in 1926 and is a rare surviving example of a 1920s hostel which was created for young women coming to work and study in the city, enabling a greater inclusion of women in Victoria’s workforce. You can read more about the history and the site here.
The images below show how the proposed tower will not only replace the PMC but also encroach onto the area around the church. You can see the whole permit here Wesley-H0012-P21963 Heritvage Victoria has also published a Q and A about the site and permit Wesley-Q-and-A.
The development still hasn’t got a permit from the minister or the City of Melbourne, our only hope is that the Minister rejects to tower for streetscape reasons, because of its lack of setbacks and very large scale.