By Brendan Rees
Published 27 October, 2021
An iconic street art laneway in Melbourne’s CBD could face the wrecking ball after the City of Melbourne approved plans to build an adjoining 41-storey tower development.
The 133-metre mixed-use tower near the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) proposes to have shops, 267 apartments, offices and a publicly accessible basketball court.
The proposed site is currently home to the five-storey Burbank House as well as two double-storey brick warehouses and a three-storey brick building, some of which were built in the early 1900s and would be partially demolished under the plans.
Cr Leppert added, “we’ve known for a very, very long time this could happen to Blender Lane”, but as soon as the wall was designated as a “special place with special character” that’s when the street art community would decide to go elsewhere.
Adrian Doyle, artist and director of The Blender Studios, said he was devastated to learn of the planned demolition of art in Blender Lane which he described as the “cultural veins” of Melbourne.
He said the proposed development was typical of foreign investors “cashing in on the culture of our city … and taking a little bit of Melbourne each time they do it”.
“Melbourne’s going to look like any other city. We’re losing all the things that make Melbourne have a unique and interesting identity,” he said.
Friends of Queen Victoria Market secretary Dr Miriam Faine expressed concerns the council had gone against their heritage guidelines in the QVM precinct to “construct yet another potentially empty tower”.
“Trashing our heritage is not the way to revive the city,” she said. “The result is that the National Heritage listed QVM site now sits in a canyon surrounded by visually dominating towers. This will have detrimental consequences for the amenity of the QVM as a functioning market.”
“Reinstating laneway access between Therry St and Franklin St is a good idea, but this needn’t require the further obliteration of yet more significant commercial and industrial heritage in the QVM precinct.”
“One would have thought that the pandemic offered a perfect opportunity to pause the relentless overdevelopment of Melbourne. Instead, reopening apparently means more of the same – and it doesn’t matter how awful or redundant a development is, this council will let it through.”