Positive potential for lane           

By Rhianna Busler

After years of neglect, there is still hope for Jones Lane to become one of Melbourne’s unique laneways.  

EastEnders Inc, a group formed in 1998 to promote meeting fellow residents and a place to discuss local community issues, is urging attention be bought to the long-forgotten Jones Lane.

As an area recognised by the City of Melbourne (CoM) as a high-density residential precinct, EastEnders said it was sad to see the lane’s deterioration.

Situated between Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale streets west of Exhibition St, EastEnders said: “Jones Lane has become an area of unglamorous and socially undesirable activities.”

“With the imminent development of the Wesley Church and Princess Mary Club heritage building, it is timely for the City of Melbourne to work with the developer to ensure this space becomes one of Melbourne’s hidden gems,” the group said.

The Princess Mary Club was built in 1926 and will soon be knocked down and converted into a 34-level office tower, right next to Wesley Church.

A spokesperson for the developer Charter Hall said: “We are working with the responsible authority regarding the upgrade of Jones Lane as part of the development which will include retail activation and upgraded finishes consistent with the Melbourne City pallet of materials.”

EastEnders Inc has made efforts to interest CoM councillors Jackie Watts and Ken Ong and local MLA Ellen Sandell in ways to bring Jones Lane back to life and have received positive responses.

EastEnders vice-president Jenny Eltham said the group was currently drawing up ideas that it hoped to suggest to Cr Ong at their next meeting.

Some of these ideas include artwork on buildings walls and a coffee shop with the theme of celebrating women to resemble what was once the Princess Mary Club.

Although EastEnders is saddened by the loss of the Princess Mary Club, it sees this development as having the potential to positively affect the neighbourhood and utilise Jones Lane.

It says the lane has a long history of waste disposal issues from overflowing bins to being an illegal dumping ground and was used as a “cut through” by drivers looking to circumvent city traffic snarls.

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