Thursday, March 25, 2010

Angry Highriser

C'mon, enough is enough. This is all happening under Planning Minister Justin Madden's watch and a Labor state government. How can this all be happening? Development at all costs? Profit before community good? Isn't there an organisation called Heritage Victoria, in charge of protecting our heritage? Under this state Labor government, Premier Brumby and Minister Madden, we appear to be losing buildings at a rate unparalleled since the sixties and seventies.

The Art Deco Lonsdale House, now gone.

The last remaining old Foy and Gibson building in Smith Street Fitzroy. It is only a fa├žade, but still developers want to demolish it. Photo from Walking Melbourne.

Eastern Arcade, gone, replaced by a very ordinary looking modern building.

The lovely old Princess Mary Club, if not gone yet, soon will be.

These are generally smallish sites, but they go to make up the character of the streets where that have sat for many decades.

This one is not so small. The Argus (old Melbourne newspaper) building under threat. How could such an historic building not have any heritage protection. It could disappear without anyone being able to do anything about it. Photo from Melbourne Heritage.

But the biggest outrage of all, and the impact will be severe and pretty well permanent, is the Windsor Hotel and surrounds, half demolished and visually destroyed by a tower behind it and surrounded by assorted ugly modern buildings. Saviour of our heritage, Heritage Victoria is quite happy and satisfied with the plans, as is the government, the opposition, and the City of Melbourne and its Lord Mayor Doyle. I have yet to speak or hear or read of anyone else who approves. Photos from Save the Windsor. Sign up to the Face Book site or fill in the petition. Details at the website.


  1. Heritage Vic was the one who closed down the illegal archaeolgy dig in St Kilda.
    They didn't do anything after that; no dig, no investigation, nothing.
    An awful lot of nothing.

  2. Heritage Victoria! I ask myself what they actually do all the time, then I remember who pays them. I have been worried about The Argus building for some time now. It makes me suspicious when things are left empty and boarded up for years. The Windsor - you would have thought no government in its right mind would want to ruin that...the pillaged streetscape now that Lonsdale House has gone. Not to mention what has happened out the back in Little Bourke St. I feel angry too, actually it is very hard not to despair.

  3. Now covered with asphalt Jayne.

    We pay them LiD! But yes, gov decides how much. After writing the post, I just discovered that the Argus building has been saved. There was no beauty in Little Bourke Street, just a nice streetscape of a hotch potch of buildings, all working together to create an ambience that can never be created. Such things just happen.

  4. Yes, there is a tough call in some of this which Andrew touches upon in his last comment. Some things have little or no inherent beauty. Should we keep them just because they are THERE. I am not saying all these examples mentioned because I dont know them all and youse guys do. However, up here I read back through the years, and what we are struggling to save now is about the 4th or 5th building on that site. Maybe that is what cities do, gobble themselves up to regenerate.

    God that Windsor Hotel backdrop is pug-ugly!!

  5. Anonymous9:07 am

    How much in back handed payments to the Planning Minister and his cohorts has been made to get these constructions through?

    They should all be chained to the front facades when the wreckers ball is about to hit.

    Like you said Andrew, it is the character and ambience these buildings create in a street scape that can't be replicated. The streets become wind blown barren and desolate once the office workers have gone home.

  6. Julie, it is very clear that the general public don't want this plan for the Windsor to go ahead and if asked, would like to save the other buildings.

    Sydney is a bit different to Melbourne in so far as we still have old streetscapes intact, something I have not particularly noticed in Sydney. Yes, you have some remarkable single buildings, but scant regard seems to have ever been given to 'areas'. Victoria St, Potts Point is perhaps an exception, god bless Juanita. This is perhaps a gross generalisation, but just the impression I get. But away from the shops and commercial areas, I love the eastern suburbs housing. It is perhaps an area with some of the worlds most interesting housing. A turn here, a twist there and a new revelation.

    Anon, I can't possibly endorse such accusations, but many people will agree with you. You hit the nail on the head with streetscapes.

  7. As much as I love our older buildings and want them to remain, I wonder whether part of the issue is that the design of their interiors is somewhat unsuitable for the modern businesses that wish to inhabit them.......

    Maybe, but you're right, it's more likely that some greedy developer wants to build something that can accommodate twice or even thrice the tenants, thereby increasing capital......

  8. Evol, it is all about maximising return on capital. I have not been for a high tea inside the Windsor, so I don't know what it looks like inside. I can imagine, and I expect that will remain. But many old buildings have been successfully adapted to modern office usuage, or hotel accommodation, or apartments. The owners of the Windsor are out for mega profits by hotel accommodation in the new building.

  9. wow, that last pic is nasty, i didn't realise it was going to be such an ugly monstrosity. Grrr.
    All this planning business is so very wrong, the development planned for Coburg is ridiculous... for many reasons, yet no one seems to take any of the locals' opinions into account.

  10. I have been following that one too Fen. Why are the 'people' always wrong?

  11. What I love about Melbourne are the lovely old different with carvings and flourishes - we have lost our soul to consider the ugly square things they call buildings to replace what were and are the most solid and beautiful buildings. Port Macquarie was begunin 1821 - and there is only one that I know of truely historical building left - the developes in the 70's and on saw to just looks like any other town now - all the individuality is gone

  12. That's a shame MC. There must have been some grand buildings along with less notable but also historically important ones.