Lonsdale House, Lonsdale St, Melbourne (Autumn 2009)

Digital Innovations Lost Buildings, Preservation, Victoria

LonsdaleHouseMelbourneThe Myer Corporation and Colonial First State have lodged an application for Stage 2 of the redevelopment of the Myers store complex in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. Because of the size of the project, the Minister of Planning is the Responsible Authority, rather than the City of Melbourne. The application includes the proposal to demolish Lonsdale House. The developers have also applied to the Minister to have the building removed from the Planning Scheme, where it is part of the Post Office Precinct heritage overlay, and thus remove the limited protection that it currently enjoys. A new 9 storey building has been proposed for the site but the main justification for the demolition is to widen Caledonian Lane, which abuts the building, from 4m wide to 8m to allow delivery trucks to pass each other in the lane.

The idea that an historic, highly recognised building should be demolished for a lane-widening project has aroused widespread derision and anger, particularily as the developers have made it clear that they are not interested in adaptive re-use of the building, an option that could enable the lane widening whilst preserving much of the historic fabric. ADMS, together with the National Trust, will be vigorously opposing this outrageous and inappropriate proposal.