Red lights in historic red light district

Last drinks have been called at the Elms Family Hotel, the distinctive red brick pub which has stood at the corner of Spring and Little Lonsdale streets since 1925.

The site’s owners, super firm ISPT, have plans for an office block which would reduce the building to a mere facade, with a ten-storey office block suspended above it.

Plans also include the partial demolition of the neighbouring 1913 Anglican Mission building.

The buildings, and those around them on Little Lonsdale St, represent the only remaining intact section of the “Little Lon” precinct, Melbourne’s infamous 19th century red light district.

The precinct includes the Elms, the Mission (to “fallen women”), the 1853 Oddfellows Hotel, a tiny 1877 house at 17 Casselden Place, the 1883 Porta Bellows works, and three 1920s red brick factories.

Now, the ISPT proposal would see the demolition of two of the remaining 1920s factories, leaving only the 1877 cottage unaltered.
MHA has written to the City of Melbourne recommending that this area become a formal heritage precinct, but the response so far has not been positive.

The ISPT proposal has been granted exemption from the recent enhanced CBD planning controls by Planning Minister Richard Wynne. The new minimum setback requirements on a site this size would likely render any tower unviable.

This exemption was supposedly granted on the basis that plans were close to submission when the new regime came into effect, but this clearly privileges the developer’s needs over the public’s.

We call on both council and the Planning Minister to reject this gross and disrespectful overdevelopment to preserve the integrity this important heritage precinct.

More information and how to object at:

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