Passionate supporters of the Palace Theatre gathered on November 23 to protest the removal of interior fittings by developer Jinshan Investments.
A member of the Save the Palace Committee discovered a large skip at the rear of the site in Amphlett Lane on November 21. Upon inspection, large chunks of interior plaster mouldings, smashed internal doors, a lot of rubble and a large number of 1912 tiles from a side Bourke St stairwell were discovered.
The site’s developer issued a statement defending its action, claiming the interior of the building “held little heritage value”.
In the media release entitled “Jinshan Investments operating within its rights”, the developer said all work carried out at the venue was lawful.
“The developer is undertaking works to improve site safety, which had become compromised in the period following the departure of the former music venue tenant,” the statement said.
It also argued: “Over the past 100 years, it has been dramatically altered, with much of its original features and history stripped by previous owners, including the Metro Nightclub which added steel staircases and galleries that dramatically transformed the interior in the 1980s.”
Further, Jinshan said that Heritage Victoria had ruled on two occasions that the venue did not hold sufficient cultural value to be protected. However, the statement failed to note that the Heritage Council also found the theatre potentially had social and historical values at a “local” level.
After the discovery, the City of Melbourne applied for interim heritage protection for the interior of the building.
The council was considering whether the Palace deserved heritage protection when workers began stripping the venue.
On October 7, the Future Melbourne Committee voted to ask council staff to assess the site’s internal and external heritage significance.
The final section of a three-part motion: “Requests management to provide for the assessment of the significance of the external and internal components of the site, and present to this committee by 18 November 2014 a draft planning scheme amendment which creates a new schedule to the Heritage Overlay to recognise the Palace Theatre as a site of local significance.”