Calls grow to make abandoned venue safer after gas main cut

Brendan Rees

A gas main cut to an abandoned property in East Melbourne that caused residents to be evacuated has prompted calls for the site to be made more secure. 

Fire Rescue Victoria was called to the intersection of Powlett St and Gipps St about 11pm on January 18 following reports of a gas leak.

No injuries were reported but residents said they were evacuated until the situation was brought under control at 2am.

Firefighters used a spray of water to disperse the gas vapour until a gas company arrived to isolate it. 

Police were also on scene and have launched an investigation after confirming a group of men tried to gain access to an abandoned property on Powlett St.

“It’s understood the men fled when they cut a main gas line to the property,” a police spokesperson said.

“Investigations remain ongoing.”

According to residents who spoke to Inner City News, the incident occurred at Magnolia Court, a former bed and breakfast venue at 95-101 Powlett St, which has been vacant since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Developer Primeland has been given approval to redevelop the existing two-storey Victorian era building into a residential hotel.

But residents said they are alarmed by the lax security measures surrounding the dormant property with people believed to be trespassing onto the site in recent months, with police having been called.

Residents want the developer and the City of Melbourne to work together to address the matter and ensure the site is secured.

Sally, a resident, who asked not to use her surname to protect her personal safety, said she and others suspected would-be trespassers were after copper.

“It’s not remotely secure enough,” she said of the hoarding in place," she said.


You feel like you’re living next to something that is gradually falling apart and not being kept safe.


“It was quite scary in the sense that with that with that much gas escaping you are concerned about explosions.”

Sally, who heard an “enormous noise” on the night of the gas leak, said she and others saw a man earlier in the day carrying a rucksack backpack, which appeared to be full after they were believed to have loitered around Magnolia Court between 3pm and 6pm.

“There were bits of copper pipe in the laneway that hadn’t been there earlier in the evening.”

Some residents captured the incident on CCTV, which has been handed over to police.

“It doesn’t feel very safe, we’ve been in touch with the council; we’ve asked if they have any powers to inspect the site and give directions to the developer to make it safe. We haven’t had a response,” Sally said.

Another resident, Adam, said he was also worried about safety.

“It’s quite derelict, if you see the windows and doors are broken, it basically opens it to folks breaking in and trying to steal anything of value,” he said.

Primeland has been contacted for comment while the City of Melbourne referred all enquiries to the developer.

Anyone with information or CCTV/dash cam footage is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Photo: Emergency services at the scene of the gas leak. Photo: Contributed

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