Urgent crowd-funding required for VCAT battle. No Boxing Day bargain is more important than this

We hope you all had a very merry day yesterday filled with plenty of laughter and cheer. Now it’s Boxing Day. A day traditionally used for spending leftover Christmas money on so-called bargains that often aren’t really needed. So we have a proposition for you and we need this one SHARED moreso than any other post or request we’ve ever made.

Jinshan have applied to VCAT to demolish the Palace Theatre. The City of Melbourne will resist and we want to carry our campaign into VCAT as well. On 23 December Save The Palace committee, Melbourne Heritage Action and  National Trust all lodged applications to be parties to the VCAT hearing.  We have had generous offers of legal support from lawyers and legal firms, however even with the reduced costs offered there is still a substantial cost to be met for senior barrister representation and expert witnesses. We are aiming to raise $15,000 in order to be represented at the Practice Day Hearing on 16 January, possible mediation in February, and the full hearing which will last for at least a week commencing 30 March 2015.

Today  we are today launching our Save The Palace fund.  We are utilising a previously created National Trust donation page but can assure you that every cent raised will be directed towards paying our legal costs and there will be full transparency of where the money is being spent.  Funds can be donated securely online to the National Trust. ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE and all funds raised will be used to help prepare and deliver our combined case legal case at VCAT.

We beg each and every one of you to SHARE, RETWEET or EMAIL this post and donate as much as possible.

We cannot do this part without you.

Legal or planning experience with VCAT proceedings urgently required #savethepalace (18/12/14)

We need your help and the only way to ensure this news is spread far and wide is to share this post as well as talk to friends, colleagues, family. Please retweet, email or share our post.

Jinshan’s ongoing push will now be going to VCAT. The matter is due to be heard from 30 March 2015. We would expect the City of Melbourne will be resisting the application by Jinshan Investments to demolish and develop the Palace Theatre site. There will be a “Practice Day hearing” on 16 January when all the parties that wish to be formally involved will resolve preliminary or procedural issues prior to the final hearing. There may be a mediation session in February, but with 900+ objectors and such polarised positions between the applicant and objectors this may not happen. We are working with National Trust and Melbourne Heritage Action to be a party to VCAT with legal representation to make our own submissions objecting to demolition. Cutoff date for submissions will be January 9, so clearly with Christmas and New Year in between, time is of the essence.

Friends, family, colleagues. Anyone with knowledge and a background in Planning and Legal requirements willing to offer their time to participate in this, we implore you , please email us: info@savethepalace.com

Future Melbourne Committee Meeting 02/12/14 (Audio)

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.

This is it! What we’ve argued for over a year. Email councillors Now!

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.

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.

Find the heritage report and recommendations here

Future Melbourne Committee Meeting Agenda Dec 2, 2014

Councillor contact details here:

Melbourne City Councillors and their contact information

#savethepalace #itsnotoveryet #palacetheatre #culture #melbourne

Palace Theatre skip salvage (25/11/14)

A sad day today for the the Save The Palace crew.

Together with Melbourne Heritage Action  Australian 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.

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