Ellen Sandell – Member for Melb questions Planning Minister in Parliament

On Tuesday in Parliament, Ellen Sandell – Member for Melbourne, said that the Planning Minister – Richard Wynne should protect the Palace/Metro to prevent further destruction to its irreplaceable interior period fixtures.

Mr Wynne – whilst recognising the Palace as an extremely important building in Melbourne – demonstrated just how misinformed the government is in relation to the Palace saga stating that, ‘…due to recent removal of internal fabric there no longer remains reason to protect the building’s interiors.’

“This is not true….. Despite alterations over the years, including the recent removal of some period features by the current owner, the interior still retains its original plan form, including its famous balconies, staircases and its amphitheatre shape, which are a marker of the building’s long history and social heritage and which are still intact”, said Sue Pennicuik, Greens spokesperson for the Arts.

“As I pointed out in parliament in December 2013. The interior of the Palace/Metro is impressive and unique and has always been admired,”

The National Trust states that after 100 years, the Palace Theatre is still a viable entertainment venue. In previous incarnations as Brennan’s Amphitheatre, the Apollo Theatre, the Metro Theatre and Metro Nightclub, the building has hosted many types of cinematic, dramatic and musical theatre, and until recently was a prominent live music venue with a capacity of 1850 persons that hosted many local and international acts. The Palace remains a structurally-sound theatre with an auditorium and balconies, stage area, lobby, stairs and ancillary theatre spaces that warrant protection.

“We are in danger of losing this rare, much loved and historic venue that has chronicled part of Victoria’s cultural history over more than a century because the heritage and planning mechanisms have so far failed to protect it. It is not good enough for the Government to just let this happen. The Minister, the government and everyone involved needs to act now to preserve this precious part of Melbourne’s cultural and live music history,” Ms Pennicuik said.

Richard Wynne’s seat of Richmond, held by a tiny 1.86% margin is under threat from a wave of inner-city Greens voters and he risks electoral backlash from unpopular decisions within his high-profile Planning portfolio yet he has not responded to repeated requests from Save The Palace, National Trust, Melbourne Heritage Action and Music Victoria for a time to discuss this situation.