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lonsdale house
The upcoming demolition of Lonsdale House, an art deco building in Melbourne’s dowdy Lonsdale Street, is attracting attention that must be worrying the developers and Myer. A brief survey of recent developments turns up calls to arms, critiques of Melbourne’s heritage policy, and thoughts about what inner Melbourne should strive to be.

The store
I had naively thought that Myer needed more space to display its range of bloomers and whitegoods, but what we are going to get is a new shopping centre. And Apple is the likely tenant . Mayor Robert Doyle says the CBD needs to keep up with Doncaster Shoppingtown and Chadstone, which is an odd comparison. Philip Goad replies, “We shouldn’t need to compete with shopping malls. There should be a different way of doing it. We don’t need to emulate the shopping mall in the central city.”

The laneway
The Age questions why Melbourne City Council finds it so easy to sell its laneways for private development, and reports they are to receive $1.4M for laneways lost in the Myer development. Cheap at twice the price. 4m wide Caledonian Lane is to be widened into an 8m wide thoroughfare and main service entrance.

Guy Rundle speculates on what he calls “the bizarre revival of Melbourne on the world stage.” “It’s not for Melbourne Central or QV, those identikit mid-west maulings… It’s the fact that Melbourne is still recognisably a historied city, with layers and textures, laneways and lifeways that give it a global brand, and a source of future value.”

The reasoning
Planning Minister Justin Madden says that, apart from the need to widen the laneway, the building needs to be demolished to provide an entrance addressing QV. Nonsense says Shaun Carney at The Age

The National Trust
“The demolition of the Art Deco Lonsdale House on the basis of needing to widen the lane for truck access, and the need for a ‘signature’ building, is however still on the agenda. This is now the subject of a Planning Scheme Amendment being drafted by the office of the Minister for Planning, and does not appear to be subject to any hearing or review.” LINK

The website
SAVE LONSDALE HOUSE has been launched. “WE have a choice between a Melbourne where: heritage buildings and laneways are demolished for short term financial gain; OR heritage and community values mean something to our city and its culture.”

The Facebook group – 1200 and growing.

The National Trust urges people to write to Planning Minister Justin Madden. A form letter they provide states: “The development will destroy one of the now characteristic laneways of Melbourne, and specifically the St Jerome’s bar, home of the laneway festival. There will be no room for unusual or fringe activities that so animate Melbourne in the new shopping centre. Such unique spaces and activities are in danger of being destroyed by their popularity.”

A community protest is to be held at Lonsdale House on August 22nd, 1pm – 2pm.

An online petition has been set up and has 1500 signatures to date.

Walking Melbourne building profile page
Walking Melbourne’s busy forum thread for Lonsdale House

Posted by Peter on 16.08.09 in  and 




A proposal by RMIT students for an alternative development that retains only the Lonsdale House facade: LINK

by peter on 09.11.04, 10:45 pm ·#

The facebook group says that the demolition of the building has commenced.

by peter on 10.01.15, 11:09 am ·#

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