At Future Melbourne Committee on Dec 9th, councillors voted 5-3 in favour of refusal to the demolish the Palace Theatre and the subsequent construction of an insignificant 7 storey hotel. The Save The Palace Committee is incredibly thrilled with this result. For a brief moment in time, the world was a wonderful place to be. It’s been a long, arduous journey for us and to see our constant campaigning, lobbying, letter-writing and rallying finally pay off with some results was ridiculously satisfying. We thank everyone who has provided us with support and guidance most particularly the last couple of weeks.
Its not over yet, but for a brief second we’ll sit back and bask in this momentary glory and then regroup and prepare for our next steps and our next battle.
Big thanks to the guys fromThe Buskers Guide who put this short clip together for us from our rally a couple of weeks ago. We return to Council tonight to ensure that they back up their acknowledgement of the Statement of Significance last week with a vote to reject the demolition and insignificant hotel.
We’ll try to live tweet as much as possible through the meeting. We’re Agenda item 6.1 so should be up first.
“As with many Chinese buyers they’re not traders of assets, they’re holders of assets. I would be very surprised if he did decide to [sell],” – CBRE’s – Mark Wizel who sold the property to Jinshan in 2012
..and herein is where our problem lies. This developer, Xianwen Xu from Jinshan Developments should cut his losses and sell. We have fought him at every turn and will continue to fight him.
His $180m development is long gone and he’d be lucky to recover his investment with this new one. Seven storeys, only 3 with windows, no views, you can call it boutique all you like. Bates Smart should be ashamed of their work on this as it is nothing but a cheap, budget hotel with nothing going for it. He should show the people of this city some respect, return it to them and look elsewhere. His notoriety within this city now is from nothing but disdain. He could turn it all around and actually earn some respect back. There is absolutely no shame or failure in doing that, only honour
Stream the discussion around the Palace Theatre from the Future Melbourne Committee Meeting (December 2, 2014) below, or click here to download and listen to it later.
Below is a brief summary of the discussion. Use this as a reference to jump to specific moments in the conversation:
00:00:00 – Lord Mayor opens meeting 00:00:50 – Planning Officer’s report 00:05:56 – Cr Wood seeks clarification whether the removal of heritage fabric was unlawful 00:07:00 – Cr Leppert questions exclusions from amended heritage report 00:09:47 – Cr Watts questions inconsistency of heritage reports “whole situation is disgraceful” 00:12:02 – Chris Thrum (Save the Palace Supporter) addresses Council 00:15:38 – Jessica Adams (AMMP, Amphlett Lane) addresses Council 00:19:20 – Cr Mayne asked Jessica Adams to present a message from MP Martin Foley 00:20:00 – Cr Leppert inquires about eyewitness account of tunnel between Princess & Palace 00:21:10 – Rebecca Leslie (Save the Palace Committee) addresses Council 00:24:33 – Michael Raymond (Save the Palace Committee) addresses Council 00:28:08 – Katrina Grant (Melbourne Heritage Action) addresses Council 00:31:23 – Lyn Raymond (Save the Palace Supporter) addresses Council 00:35:00 – Rory O’Connor (Norton Rose Fulbright on behalf of Jinshan Investments Pty Ltd) interjects 00:35:15 – Phil Gleeson (Urbis Pty on behalf of Jinshan Investments Pty Ltd) addresses Council 00:38:27 – Cr Watts queries resolutions 00:39:40 – Cr Mayne seeks clarification on what advice Urbis gave to Jinshan 00:39:55 – Rory O’Connor (Norton Rose Fulbright on behalf of Jinshan Investments Pty Ltd) addresses Council. Accuses Cr Leppert of misconduct 00:42:00 – Cr Forster questions Mr O’Connor’s approach to the accusations 00:43:14 – Council Management addresses questions of administrative law 00:45:00 – Tristan Davies (Melbourne Heritage Action) addresses Council 00:48:02 – Paul Roser (National Trust) addresses Council 00:51:40 – Greg Young (Palace Theatre business operator) addresses Council. Introduces new evidence of heritage significance and confirms ‘rumours’ of ‘White Knight’ 00:54:30 – Cr Ong speaks about Palace Theatre saga. Asserts that not enough interest has been expressed from music lovers in an effort to save the Palace prior to its acquisition by Jinshan. Cr Ong asserts that this debate has been unfair on the developer. 01:02:05 – Cr Mayne supports Cr Ong’s views. ‘Sovereign Risk’, ‘Changing the rules on the developer’ and describes the situation as a ‘mess’. Encourages better communication from Jinshan with the Council. 01:08:53 – Lord Mayor Doyle supports Cr Ong and Cr Mayne and makes a ‘personal’ objection. Strongly defends the developer and suggests that demolition of the Palace is warranted according to the advice received from Planning Officers. 01:14:51 – Cr Leppert speaks to motion. He seeks to clarify the difference between Council acting as a ‘Planning Authority’ and a ‘Responsible Authority’ and asserts to what the Council’s ‘job’ is. Questions inconsistency between heritage reports by Graeme Butler. Defends himself from accusations made by Mr O’Connor. Seeks amendments to the motion which subsequently are defeated. 01:21:00 – Cr Oke seconds Cr Leppert’s motion for amendment 01:22:00 – Cr Oke speaks to amendment 01:25:00 – Cr Wood speaks to motion in agreement with Cr Mayne’s views 01:28:50 – Cr Leppert moves addition amendment (with some difficulty); seconded by Cr Watts but defeated 01:31:00 – Final vote on motion; carried 01:31:30 – Lord Mayor Doyle invites questions from the public 01:32:30 – Lyn Raymond (Save The Palace Supporter) addresses Council 01:33:50 – Michael Raymond (Save The Palace Committee) addresses Council. Questions social investigation as to why it has not been conducted properly, nor by an expert in that field (social science). The point received little acknowledgement. 01:39:00 – Rebecca Leslie (Save The Palace Committee) addresses Council. Asks where an apparent second peer report (investigation in to social significance) is. Council denies to know anything of it. Council Management confirms that another company was engaged to investigate this aspect but this engagement was terminated by Council. No reason given. 01:41:00 – Lord Mayor Doyle declares meeting closed.
The Age reports a nail in the Palace Theatre coffin. It’s this simple, to change a report and recommendations and make it only available to the public on the day of the council vote is outrageous. To not consider the remaining relevance of the building and it’s significance both architecturally, aesthetically, historically and culturally is a crime. We consider that to not act on clear observations of rampant destruction displays possible gross negligence on the council and planning officers part. Do we need to start sharing images of the Regent Theatre of the fire in 1945 that destroyed the building? The Regent Theatre is listed for both its State and Local significance. Council should be considering all of these points in their assessment and will vote on whether or not to protect the theatre tonight. If you feel it necessary to speak to the amendment you must register your intention by 4pm today. Remember: if you register to simply abuse Councillors, you’re not helping anything. Strong argument is what is required.. (email@example.com)
A day ago there was no argument to the Heritage Report on the council. Really, who are the goalposts moving for now?
Oh, and if you’re interested. This is what remained of the Regent Theatre that is now protected at state and local levels. You remove some plaster and tiles and suddenly the internal significance isn’t there? What a crock. Balconies, floor, ceiling, stage – all intact. The Palace is a live entertainment venue that has had ongoing use for 100 years. It is socially significant. There is social heritage value. A valid form of heritage afforded protection under national conventions.
Outrageous! On the day of what was to be a Future Melbourne Committee heritage vote for the Palace Theatre, the City Planning Officers have changed their report and their recommendations. The report now does not acknowledge interiors but only the building. This is disgraceful. As far as we are concerned the City Council are now seemingly rewarding Jinshan for their cultural vandalism rather than holding them to account for the actions over the last month. Jinshan were all to aware that a Heritage review was being conducted yet continued to destroy significant heritage value. We do believe this highlights a gross negligence by the officers that ultimately have resulted in the loss of community heritage and asset.
The remaining interior fittings, the spatial capacity, the balconies and stage have all now been disregarded.
We can only hope that council will recognise the recommendations for the building itself. Our white knight is not a myth. They are watching, waiting on the sidelines to see how this all pans out.
MCC have released their Agenda for Dec 2 meeting. Item 6.4 contains a comprehensive heritage report and strong recommendations from planning officers. It is time for you to write your own emails. It is time for you to share your views on this development. For the past year we have provided templates and standard objections. We know as they’ve come up we’ve said they’re our most important, well this one tops the importance of all the previous ones! This one needs to come for your heart and ensure councillors understand the significance of this live entertainment venue to the people of Melbourne.
There were plenty of emails sent last week in outrage. Council were bombarded. Time do it again. There doesn’t need to be any outrage on this one. This simply requires you to use the facts. It is best to focus on how the demolition of the Palace will impact on you personally. The technical information is all included in the officers’ heritage report. Your job, as a person who uses or admires the Palace Theatre is to give the Council an understanding of how the public feel about the matter. Talk about the aspects of the building that you like, that make it stand out above others, talk about your interests in the history of the building. Talk about how you may have a piece of your own history indebted to the venue, and how you would like to be able to share that with friends and loved ones in the future. You get the idea.
LET US MAKE THIS CLEAR AND IT SHOULD GO WITHOUT SAYING.
If you choose to email council, please do not abuse, make allegations or anything to the contrary. This will not assist our cause in any way. This is an incredibly contentious battle we have fought for a long time and by hurling abuse at Councillors there is absolutely nothing to be gained.
Following the closure of the Palace Theatre, the Save The Palace Committee, together with Ezekiel Ox and our supporters, gathered on Friday evenings for 12 continuous weeks outside the building. We came together peacefully and without incident. We believed that whilst they had shut us out of the venue, they would never take away the music.
With the unethical removal of interior fittings last week a snap rally was put together, unfortunately this time with unwanted and unnecessary incident. The rally on Sunday was thrown (amongst other reasons) for us to come together again and reclaim OUR space, OUR theatre from the negativity and circumstances of Thursday. It was a resounding success. Caught up in the enthusiasm and positivity we believed at the time that to start our vigils again every Friday, would be an excellent idea and mentioned it to all there. As you can appreciate however it has been a massive week for the Save The Palace crew with never-ending phone calls, lobbying, facilitation, and foraging through 7 tonnes of skip. The organisation around a vigil takes a lot of effort. Effort we believe is best focused at this time on the behind the scenes work that will have the potential to realise our final goal. We hope you can appreciate and understand this decision as it has not been made lightly and we thank all those who planned to come this Friday.
While there have been some comments that a group of people standing around outside the theatre is not what will save it, we still encourage any format that shows a visual support to the cause; be that through vigils or rallies, #savethepalace #itsnotoveryet trending on twitter, sharing of statuses on facebook, objection letters sent to council, etc. Every one of you that has participated in any way counts.
“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.
If you are in the city this Friday we encourage you to stop outside the venue and take a picture and share it on social media with #savethepalace #itsnotoveryet If you aren’t in the city we also encourage you to take a picture wherever you are hashtag it and post. While there may not be a vigil as a group at the venue you can still participate in an online vigil and continue to spread the word.
Finally, we thank those people who are maintaining a constant eye on the comings and goings at the Palace Theatre both day and night. Your efforts and updates are incredibly appreciated. Anyone else willing to offer assistance to provide these volunteers with much needed relief, would be greatly appreciated. Email us with your details and availability.
Together with Melbourne Heritage ActionAustralian Music Museum Project and National Trust – Victoria we trudged down to an isolated industrial yard where a single skip sat, protected from the elements by a mish-mash of tarps hurriedly thrown over to protect its contents from the elements. The skip was emptied and we started our heart-wrenching foraging for items of significance. Crushed Edwarian Baroque interior decoration and plasterwork, smashed 100 year old Art Nouveau tiles, classical Grecian cameos ripped from balconies made our job all the harder to swallow. It took hours to retrieve salvageable items with our small team and as each layer of plaster was turned over – that had been ripped inconsiderately by uncaring construction workers – our unease started to fade. There was so much more we had been expecting to find that just wasn’t there. This renewed our hope. Regardless, there is ultimately still a 100 year old theatre standing there. What was taken can be restored. The cultural history can never be ripped out and it is what we will continue to fight for.
It’s done now. The remnants of what was ripped from the Palace has gone to landfill. We have extracted as much as we could possibly carry and store. It is safe until such time that certain members of MCC realise that this theatre must be recognised and saved and we go forward with restoring it to its former glory.