For those who are Melbourne Curious... A celebration of the city's architecture, streetscapes, heritage and style
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Melbourne Heritage in the News
Demolition of Key Hotel Approved
March 30, 2011
MELBOURNE University has won approval to demolish the heritage-protected 1957 Elizabeth Towers Hotel in Parkville and replace it with a $210 million medical research centre that will aid in the fight against influenza pandemics.
The decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to approve the centre sparked a stinging rebuke against the tribunal by the chairman of Melbourne City Council's planning committee, Peter Clarke, who has called for a government review of the tribunal's operations.
Cr Clarke said the decision showed that ''VCAT is now seen to be barracking for development at all cost, that heritage has a diminished value and that it calls into question the role of VCAT going forward for looking at heritage buildings and having the appropriate expertise available on their panels''.
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Demolition plan ... the heritage-protected Elizabeth Towers Hotel in Parkville.
''I think we are at the point now where VCAT is out of step with the broader views of the community,'' he said.
The Elizabeth Towers Hotel on the corner of Elizabeth and Grattan streets in Parkville was formerly Ampol House and has a striking ''glazed circular corner tower, housing Melbourne's tallest concrete spiral stair''.
The hotel is the latest of a number of heritage-protected buildings in Melbourne to face demolition or major alteration. It will be replaced by the 12-storey Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, which will exceed the preferred height limit for the site by four storeys.
The tribunal found ''a greater community benefit for present and future generations will ensue from the establishment of the Peter Doherty Institute than from retention of the former Ampol House''.
The tribunal found that ''cities must be regarded as palimpsests; they must be capable of growth and adaption to meet new needs. Over times the buildings of one era will invariably require replacement or adaption to meet these needs.''
Melbourne City Council opposed the planning application because it did not support the demolition of the former Ampol House or the new building because it failed to ''make an equivalent architectural statement''.
National Trust conservation manager Paul Roser said the decision was ''another part of the steady attrition of significant buildings in the city''.
But Professor Jim McCluskey, of Melbourne University, said the tribunal had rightly found the long-term value of the medical research centre was of greater public value than retaining the heritage building.
He said it would be a medical centre of global importance and would tackle threats such as influenza pandemics.