MELBOURNE FIGHTING TO SAVE METROPOLITAN

In Redevelopment by Clyde Mooney

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Melbourne City Council is fighting back against what it sees as the ongoing loss of the city’s historic pubs, pleading for heritage protection on the under-threat Metropolitan Hotel.

Built 1854, the modest two-storey Victorian building on the corner of William and Little Lonsdale streets is a classic example of the corner pubs that used to punctuate the city. It is one of only around a dozen remaining, from the hundred-plus throughout the city in the 1920s.

Victoria’s Hoddle Grid Heritage Review aims to put value to elements of the city held dear by the population. It has identified the Metropolitan as a building of significance, echoing committee findings on the site in 1985 and 1993.

But despite its perceived social value, it remains with no heritage consideration, and recently developer Colin De Lutis applied to demolish behind the façade, to construct a 26-storey apartment tower.

Melbourne City Council (MCC) councillors voted earlier this month to push Planning Minister Richard Wynne to apply a heritage overlay on the historic pub, which would prevent the partial demolition.

The city is still seething from the unauthorised destruction of Corkman’s Irish Pub in late 2016, with the so-dubbed ‘cowboy developers’ still fighting fines and penalties imposed after the fact.

Cr Rohan Leppert says the city has not done enough to protect these irreplaceable buildings.

“It is a problem of former councils that not all the recommendations of the 1985 or 1993 [heritage review] studies were incorporated into the planning scheme.”

He and Cr Nicholas Reece are championing a “completely appropriate” intervention by MCC, in the name of preserving the site(s).

“Melbourne has simply lost too many of its heritage pubs,” says Reece.