They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot

18 Aug

Ah development.

These days it seems like every second day a new lot of apartments is being proposed for Melbourne. As the saying goes, you can’t stop progress.

However, when the development causes the demise of community character, which is featured strongly in the marketing material, then perhaps a harder look should be taken at the proposal and what all the outcomes will be.

It’s one thing to lose a relatively small venue, such as the East Brunswick Club, but when you’re talking of an iconic Melbourne venue that bridges the gap between pub and arena, then I think a fuss should definitely be made.

Yes, I am talking about the Palace Theatre on Bourke St (formerly known as the Metro). The current proposal is to replace the building (circa 1912), with a mega  3o storey hotel / apartment complex.

But let’s not stop there. There is also a proposal to redevelop the Greater Union on Russell St (or the Greater Onion as I like to call it) into a 12 storey hotel / apartment complex.

Permission has been granted for demolition of the cinema. As far as I can tell, a decision is yet to be made on the Palace proposal.

When you look at the two proposals together, what do you get? Plenty of places to stay in Melbourne, but very little to do? And if you do find somewhere to go, the new neighbours might be trying to shut it down. (I hope like hell that it doesn’t come to this for the Cherry Bar).

Melbourne prides itself on the title of Most Liveable City. According to the 2012 summary report, the top ranking cities tend to have a “relatively low population density” and a “range of recreational activities”. When a city becomes too big for its buzz and has “higher levels of crime”, “congestion” and “public transport problems” it drops out of the top ranks.

So shall we open the bets for whether Melbourne retains its crown in the next survey, when you reduce the entertainment options, dramatically increase the number of residents, refuse to make any improvements to public transport, and increase the cost of energy and water? And what is the go with access to healthcare?

Back to the bit about making a fuss.  What better way to voice your opinion by commenting on planning applications? There was a rally to save The Palace being advertised for 31 August although at this stage it doesn’t appear to be going ahead as planned.

(Update 28/8/13: Although the rally doesn’t appear to be happening, there has been an interesting development in the Palace proposal. As reported by Tone Deaf (which is in turn sourcing from the Herald Sun) the Lord Mayor of Melbourne has declared an indirect conflict of interest in the proposal.

Also, Melbourne is apparently the most liveable city again in 2013.)


March to save live music, Melbourne, February 2010


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