Melbourne rallies to save the Palace Theatre

The Palace Theatre in Melbourne.

An emergency protest was called on November 20 to save Melbourne's Palace Theatre.

Dozens of protesters rallied outside the building the same evening to stop it being demolished. The rally was met with resistance by a group of unidentified young men who intimidated and physically attacked protesters.

Protester Ben Mathews said: “They were not there by accident and it’s very questionable whether they were sent in by the developers to promote violence and create bad PR for the Save The Palace campaign. The desperate cries of a developer losing their battle to destroy an iconic building," Tone Deaf reported.

The building was opened in 1912 and since 2007, when it was renamed the Palace Theatre, it has become one of Melbourne's top live entertainment locations with hundreds of acts performing to large audiences each year.

The November 21 Age reported: "Reports of jack-hammering sounds at the Bourke Street address were on Thursday followed by the discovery of a skip in a rear lane containing pieces of plasterwork and tiles from the 1912 Edwardian theatre.

“Late on Thursday afternoon the council announced they would seek emergency interim heritage protection for the interior of the building. Planning enforcement and building surveying offices are investigating the removal of the interior material."

Melbourne City Councillor and Greens member Rohan Leppert said in a statement: “The owner is trying to demolish as much heritage fabric as possible before Council considers its heritage protection planning scheme amendment on December 2 … Both the State Government and Local Council have recognised the heritage significance of the Palace Theatre, and are moving – too slowly, but moving nonetheless – to protect the Palace Theatre’s significant heritage fabric.”

A Facebook post from campaign group Save the Palace said: "There are almost 37,000 people liking this page. We are currently reaching 120,000 with all our posts. It is imperative that you all contact as many organisations/councillors/politicians and media as you can about this and express your concerns and dismay.

“The greater the level of public concern perceived, the greater the level of action that will ensure. MCC have encouraged people to please email siteservices@melbourne.vic.gov.au with any feedback and concerns about the situation so that they have our opinions in writing."

[For updates on the campaign visit Save the Palace Theatre on Facebook.]

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