Image for Melbourne’s Festival Hall Could Soon Be Saved From DemolitionFall Out Boy Fans @ Festival Hall, Melbourne 2013 / Photo: Ashley Mar

Melbourne’s Festival Hall Could Soon Be Saved From Demolition

Written by Laura English on May 21, 2018

Melbourne venue Festival Hall could soon be saved from demolition, after its owners revealed in January they are planning to sell the site to developers.

Owners the Wren family reportedly lodged a planning proposal with Melbourne City Council to demolish most of the existing building and build a $65 million apartment complex.

However, the 100-year-old venue could soon be saved, after Heritage Victoria recommended the venue be registered for a heritage listing, which would mean any development on the site would need special approval first.

As the ABC reports, the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria has recommended the site be added to the register, but the recommendation is still pending approval.

A report by Heritage Victoria also states that while building is unlikely to meet the heritage criteria for protection architecturally, it is socially significant to the live music industry, as well as the boxing and wrestling community.

Acts like The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lorde have all performed in the venue, and many people have called for the venue to be saved since the initial demolition proposal.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne has described the building as an important part of Melbourne’s social and cultural life, telling the ABC, “Melburnians are really passionate about their heritage, whether it’s the Queen Victoria Market or Festival Hall or many of our great historic buildings.”

Music Victoria CEO Patrick Donovan said, “It’s the blood, sweat and tears of joy that are intrinsically connected to the magic and memories of musical experiences.”

However Festival Hall’s owner, Christopher Wren, says development could still go ahead, and that the plan put forward earlier this year did aim to incorporate the history of the venue.

“We’ve gone and spoken to people we regard as having expertise in this area and got their recommendations and sought to incorporate that because we recognise that the building for some people has great memories,” he told the ABC.

Festival Hall is set to host shows from the likes of The Wombats, Franz Ferdinand & MGMT, 5 Seconds Of Summer and Courtney Barnett in the coming months.

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