A hotel built in 1968 is finally free to be redeveloped after a bizarre battle to protect it under a heritage order.
Languishing on an enormous 45,000 square metre block on the outskirts of Melbourne, the hotel was designed by architects Jorgensen and Hough to embrace the sweeping reforms to the Liquor Act of 1968.
Australia’s biggest publican – Australian Leisure & Hospitality (ALH) – sought to reinvigorate the tired site, with an extensive redevelopment to better utilise the sprawling block of land into a business offering that suits 2015 and beyond.
But a motion began to protect the existing building and its expansive carparks and grounds, citing the importance of the unique structure, with its influence from famous American Frank Lloyd Wright and bespoke features such as its custom-made earthen bricks.
In an interview with PubTIC, ALH national property manager Barry Cloke said they would be happy to preserve specific elements, but that the site was outdated and very inefficient to run.
“The Burvale Hotel was built in another era, for a different business. What people want in a venue has changed since then.”
Now “The Burv” is set to be unshackled after Whitehorse Council, which commissioned the study into suitable local structures on which to place heritage protection, voted six to four against heritage overlay for the hotel.
ALH declined to comment on its next moves, explaining that the potential heritage listing had thus far been a major inhibitor to potential plans, but that the site “is a great one”.
Councillor Bill Bennett was quoted in the Herald Sun saying the (failed) attempt to protect the entire site was “ridiculous” and would “condemn [it] to a time warp situation”.
Councillors in favour of the protection suggested those that voted against had not read the literature explaining its significance, and that much of the block could be redeveloped without touching the hotel.
But Councillor Andrew Davenport countered that the overlay would make a mockery of the Council’s heritage program.
“I liken it to having Prince Philip knighted,” Cr Davenport. “Nobody wanted it and nobody expected it.”