On 18 April 2016 the Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne approved redevelopment of the Wesley Church site in Lonsdale Street Melbourne. This is an exciting step for the Uniting Church that assures the church’s future as a place of worship and community gathering. The redevelopment will also see Wesley Mission Victoria offices returning to their geographical origins and the Synod offices relocating to the site following completion of the new commercial building on the site.
The objectives of the redevelopment are threefold:
- to create new opportunities for the church to engage in city life through interaction of meeting places, arts and educational venues
- to provide a place of worship through restoration and ongoing maintenance of the historic church
- to provide a centre for service through a functional building for Wesley Mission Victoria and the Synod
A unique transaction with the developer Charter Hall means the site will not be sold. It will be leased from the Uniting Church for 125 years, assuring the church’s future as a place of worship and community gathering for perpetuity.
Wesley Church, Manse, Schoolhouse and Caretaker’s Cottage represent the earliest intact neo-Gothic church complex in Victoria. The planning approval safeguards the longevity of these buildings which have the highest significant heritage value on the site. The Princess Mary Club, a concrete building constructed in the late 1920s will be removed, however the church is confident that the legacy of the Princess Mary Club will continue through the work of Wesley Mission Victoria. The agency provides over 130 difference services and is committed to providing programs for women that improve their life circumstances and that are relevant to today’s needs.
The refurbishment of the site at ground level will provide a revitalised precinct with contemplative spaces, sections for communal activities, and cafes and dining areas. An office space across 33 floors will be constructed on the site. The redevelopment also preserves an olive tree, believed to be the oldest imported tree in Victoria, which will become the focal point of a new green urban sanctuary and tower square.