Hopes grow historic gas building can be revamped into a community facility

Hopes grow historic gas building can be revamped into a community facility
Brendan Rees

Community members are hoping a heritage building that was once used as part of a former town gas distribution site in North Melbourne may be rejuvenated into a new social offering.

The stand-alone building, also known as a guard hut, is a remnant of the former Gas Regulating House at 60-96 Macaulay Rd, which was built in 1887, and now used as apartments.

As North West City News reported last year, residents had raised concerns about its dilapidated state, with the building also being a target for graffiti vandals.

In response, the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV), which owns the building, has undertaken maintenance work, and has sought a building engineer’s report to guide other repairs in the future.

The building was again vandalised this year, but PROV, an agency which holds the government archives of the Australian State of Victoria, said graffiti was regularly removed by the City of Melbourne, and that asbestos, identified at the site last year, had also been removed.

“We are now awaiting a building inspector to visit and provide recommendations for next steps – we’re not sure how long this will take,” a statement from PROV said in March.

Residents, who described the guard hut as a “valuable historic artefact”, were glad action had been taken to maintain the building, but hoped plans were now in motion to give the building a new lease of life and possible conversion into a community hub or some kind of social facility, while respecting its heritage value.

“Bravo to the PROV for starting the process of saving this important historic building,” resident Brendan Gleeson, who has been a local campaigner to save the building, said.

“It seems the right time to involve the local community and the City of Melbourne to contribute to a discussion about how it might be put to a good social use.”

“This growing area can certainly do with some new community facilities. And why not start by asking the local children for ideas?”

Chair of the North and West Melbourne Association Kevin Chamberlin said, “It’s great the ‘archives’ have taken action to clean the building up and make it safe with the removal of asbestos; now the next step is to get approval to find a good use for the building and bring it back to life”.

The historic buildings at the site are listed of “historical significance” on the Victorian Heritage Register.

The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) has previously said that it supported the ongoing maintenance and conservation of heritage buildings, acknowledging the challenges of issues such as vandalism that are faced by property owners. •

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
Like us on Facebook