7 Hosier Lane Facadism, Have Your Say!

Melbourne Heritage Action strongly objects to this proposal, which further threatens the authenticity of Hosier Lane, and seeks to facade a heritage building with little setback in additional levels.

Your own objections can be sent to planning@melbourne.vic.gov.au , addressed to TP-2019-36, see the advertised plans here  https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/building-and-development/property-information/planning-building-registers/Pages/town-planning-permits-register-search-results.aspx?permit=TP-2019-36

The treatment of the heritage building is simply not acceptable. It is not only reduced to an outside shell, which is only partly restored, the new construction dominates what would be left of the building in style and form despite the narrow views. The new construction also dominates Hosier Lane, which is currently highly intact, and the new uses would be diametrically at odds with the street culture that makes Hosier lane internationally famous.

MHA believes that given the sensitivity of this location, extensive changes like this should not occur. At the very least, if there is new construction above, it should be setback at least 5m from both Hosier and Rutledge lanes, and the socially useful occupants of the ground floor should be retained, as well as a guarantee that graffiti artists can keep working without disruption.

Heritage wise, it seems the development wants to have it both ways. The development could be an opportunity to restore previously fire damaged upper levels, and restore original brickwork under the current yellow paint, while still allowing for street art space at the bottom of a restored building, but does not seek to do so.

The zero-setback after a one level inset is not good heritage or streetscape practice. Though there have been some permits granted in recent years that are similar, each one should be assessed on its merits. In this case the streetscape is significant, and there are no similar taller elements that the new construction would blend into. Any new construction should be set back at least 5m, as for the recent permit for 7-19 Alfred Place (TP-2017-798 ). We also believe that the heritage guidelines for the CCZ that are part of C258 should be referred to, which state recommend : “Maintain the perception of the three-dimensional form and depth of the building by setting back the addition behind the front or principal part of the building, and from visible secondary elevation(s).”

The proposal also notes the cultural heritage value of Hosier Lane, and its history as a hub for Melbourne’s world renowned street art culture, we however feel it is disingenuous to claim this development will do anything to ‘realise Hosier Lanes potential’, as it adds little to lane besides some internal retail and serviced apartments. We note while retention of street art is mentioned, there is no guarantee that non-commissioned painting of the properly will be respected.

The lack of setback, with a one level inset of 1.96 metres, and the colourful design, clearly overwhelm the vista of Hosier Lane when viewed from Flinders Lane, and clearly contravene the intent of DD02, which states ‘Upper levels are visually recessive from streets and laneways’, clearly aiming to keep new floor additions out of visual interference with the laneway. The design adds a significant contemporary insertion above a vista currently defined by low rise brick facades, street art at ground level, and the minarets of the Forum Theatre in the background. While claiming to ‘enhance’ the famous Hosier Lane street art below, this design instead draws much visual attention away from the ground level and up towards a modern design. In fact making the upper floors ‘colourful’, inspired by the graffiti art below, is completely counter-productive and laughably simplistic.

We also note that the nature of the serviced apartment development and new upmarket retail tenancies means a constant passive surveillance of the laneway, as well as guests coming in at all hours. This surveillance could have a significant impact on the ability of artists to create graffiti works, as we have already seen with the case of the new tenancy for ‘culture kings’ opposite, where legitimate street artists have been stopped by security from painting on a wall that a corporate entity now claims can only be used for art with their permission, generally for art that only serves a commercial function for the store. The further gentrification of the laneway caused by new tenancies and a boutique hotel will surely further remove Hosier Lanes claim to fame as an authentic and world renowned subversive street art hub, leaving a deficit in our cultural heritage.

We also not that the planning application states it will ‘enhance’ Hosier Lane with brand new tenancies, arrogantly ignoring the important work Youth Projects do out of the building to support disadvantages young Melbournians, alongside Good to Go cafe and charity store currently on the ground floor. To replace a community group and social enterprise cafe, alongside a charity store which attracts all kinds of demographics with a boutique hotel, and high yield tenancies is the very antithesis of Hosier Lanes appeal and character, and does little more than gentrify another creative space in Melbourne. The idea that adding more retail to any street or laneway is inherently an ‘activation of it’ needs to challenged, especially when it further removed a mix of uses and people from a city centre which is increasingly seeing lower socio-economic or cultural uses pushed out to its fringes.

Forster & Co were the first occupants and probably constructed the building just before WW1
Whitework’ was an industry of embroidering white needlework on white base, for such items as tablecloths. A later occupant was Ellis Robertson & Peddie, who advertised a ‘going out of business’ sale in 1933 of stock of ladies coats and jackets.

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