Port Phillip Council has confirmed Port Melbourne’s London Hotel does not have heritage overlay. So developers are planning to build an apartment building on the site.
Development group Urbis lodged an application with the council in December last year. Its plan is to construct an eight-storey building consisting of 32 apartments.
Matt Thurley, the owner of the London Hotel’s restaurant, Mr Lawrence, says its demolishment was always going to happen.
“We’ve had a demolition clause in our lease ever since we signed it,” says Thurley.
The development plans include Mr Lawrence, which will occupy the ground floor of the new building.
“We’re pretty happy to move into a new building where everything works properly, to tell you the truth,” says Thurley. “The building is pretty stuffed. It’s been changed so many times over the years, from a Victorian-design hotel, to Art Deco.”
City of Port Phillip mayor Bernadene Voss says that a series of assessments and studies of the building suggest it isn’t of cultural or social significance.
Secretary of the Port Phillip Historical and Preservation Society, Pat Grainger, says locals disagree.
“People see it as an icon,” says Grainger. “All that waterfront has been turned into apartments, it’s the only historical reference left there, and that is why the community is finding it so upsetting.”
The council will not apply to the State Government for an interim protection over the building, but an appeal for a review of the plans has recently been lodged at VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal).
Thurley says Mr Lawrence at the London Hotel plans to see out the coming summer before reopening in late 2018.