SHAKY TIMES FOR OLD MELBOURNE PUBS

In Redevelopment by Clyde Mooney

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The battle to save Melbourne’s historic pubs rages on, with two currently facing demolition and redevelopment into residential apartments.

St Kilda’s Greyhound Hotel closed suddenly in the first week of January, despite community efforts to save it, with developers applying to construct an eight-storey building containing retail and residential.

Artist’s impression of proposed development at site of the Greyhound

Last week Port Phillip Council summarily dismissed the application before it was even put to Council, with inspectors citing it would “adversely affect neighbouring amenity” and noting its failure to incorporate the existing building into the design.

Permission to demolish the pub was granted last year, and may still happen at any time, although nothing new can be built without approval. Council have applied to Planning Minister Richard Wynne for an interim heritage order, which is still under consideration.

Meanwhile, the Great Western Hotel on King St in inner Melbourne bemoans a very similar fate.

Artist’s impression of proposed development at the Great Western Hotel

Despite being built in 1864, it currently enjoys no heritage protection and developer Jin Yi Pty Ltd wants to stack 26 storeys on the tiny 325 m² corner site.

The pub is considered an institution in the area, unchanged for decades and catering mostly to habitual locals in for a quiet pot.

Once again heritage groups have sprung into action, bolstered by an increasing sense that too many of the city’s historic pubs and buildings are being scrapped for high-density living space. The topic has become particularly poignant since the illegal demolition of Carlton’s beloved Corkman Irish Pub, now deceased.

The National Trust and Melbourne Heritage Action are pushing the City of Melbourne to initiate interim heritage protection for the Great Western. National Trust chief executive stresses the need to protect the historic vibrancy of the old buildings – “places that tell the story of our city”.

A social media post by the Trust calls upon proud Melbournians to back the campaign to save the 150-year-old pub, formerly known as the Star of the West.

“It has just been revealed that developers are proposing to undertake complete demolition to make way for a soaring new apartment tower.

“The National Trust and Melbourne Heritage Action are calling on the Melbourne community to help save the hotel by writing to the City of Melbourne objecting to the proposal.”

Submissions can be made at melbourneheritage.org.au/…/help-save-the-great-western-hot…/

Great Western Hotel. Image: State Library of Victoria