On Tuesday our president Tristan Davies spoke at the City of Melbourne Committee meeting, objecting to the demolition of the Princess Mary Club (and other small buildings on the site) and the construction of a giant tower that will overwhelm the Wesley Church. Sadly all but three Councillors voted in favour, with the Lord Mayor saying ‘we cant save everything’. But, of course we don’t want to save everything, only the things that are worth saving! In this case we also argue that the proposed development does not meet Council’s own guidelines, i.e:
- MSS Strategy 1.3 “Maintain the visual prominence of heritage buildings and landmarks.”
- Urban Design within CCZ: “Towers should have a podium… to provide a context for heritage.”
- Urban Design guideline: “Towers above the podium should be setback at least 10 metres from street frontages.” The new 5m rule is a minimum, not a standard.
We are not against redevelopment of sites with heritage buildings, but in this case we believe the scale of the development and the loss of heritage is inappropriate. At the meeting we presented some alternative options; both with less intrusive towers.
The first alternative retains one of the main facades of the Princess Mary Club to form part of a podium.
The other accepts its loss, but moves the manse to the front of the site, instead of it being buried under the tower, to provide a better context for the church.
If only options like these had been explored years ago. The role of Heritage Victoria, the City of Melbourne and the Planning Minister is not to simply say yes or no to development, but to explore and encourage the best planning outcomes.