By NATALIE GALLENTI-BREKALO
PROTESTERS swarmed to Williamstown earlier this month in a last-ditch bid to save one of Victoria’s oldest buildings.
Save Williamstown spokesperson Godfrey Moase said over 300 placard-wielding campaigners attended the rally on 13 April to demonstrate against the proposed demolition of the 19th-century Oriental Hotel in Williamstown.
Bearing the slogan “Need Before Greed”, hopeful protesters said there was still time to fight against the ultra high-density development at the Port Philip Woollen Mills site.
The hotel, one of Victoria’s oldest pubs, is slated for demolition to make way for a six-storey, 83-dwelling apartment block.
In December last year the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) approved the demolition of the hotel despite it being considered for state heritage listing.
The decision reversed Hobsons Bay council’s refusal to allow the demolition earlier in the year.
“If the Oriental can be demolished it gives you an idea of the scale of change that will sweep through Melbourne to satisfy the foreign investment market,” Mr Moase said.
“The rally’s aim is to demonstrate community support for the preservation of the Oriental Hotel to the Heritage Council. Residents and friends of Williamstown hope that the Heritage Council will object to VCAT’s recommendation that the hotel be demolished.”
Mr Moase said if the proposed high-density dwellings were approved, safety, traffic congestion and noise levels would be just a few of the issues residents and businesses would have to deal with.
“This isn’t a done deal yet. There’s still time to save the Oriental Hotel.
“This hotel is part of Victoria’s heritage. It’s part of the story of our formation as a community. Once it’s gone, we can never get it back.”