Heritage Victoria recently announced permit approval for the proposed redevelopment at the Wesley Upper Lonsdale Street site located in Melbourne’s CBD. The permit is part of an application process for creating a revitalised precinct with contemplative spaces, dining areas and a new commercial building featuring 5 Star Green Star environmental ratings. The three parties involved, Wesley Mission Victoria, Wesley Congregation and the synod, are now awaiting the outcome of the planning permit application with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
Rev Dr Mark Lawrence, general secretary of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, said “the synod is pleased that Heritage Victoria recognises our commitment to preserve and maintain the historic Wesley Church and its associated manse, schoolhouse and caretaker’s cottage. We look forward to learning the outcome of the planning permit application in due course”.
In granting its permit, Heritage Victoria stated that “on balance, it [the development proposal] provides a beneficial outcome in the form of badly needed conservation works to the Church and other heritage buildings at the site, most of which are no longer required for their original purposes.” The proposal included demolition of the Princess Mary Club which Heritage Victoria deemed had “considerable structural faults” and would have required “extensive replacement of the heritage fabric” at a cost in “the vicinity of $18 million”.
The development includes an innovative sinking fund for the preservation and maintenance of the Church in the next century and beyond. It also provides for the site not to be sold, but leased from the Uniting Church for 125 years, ensuring the Church’s future as a place of worship and community gathering for perpetuity.