Council approves plan to bulldoze historic Punt Rd stand

Council approves plan to bulldoze historic Punt Rd stand
Brendan Rees

The City of Melbourne has approved a controversial plan to knock down the historic Jack Dyer Stand as part of the Punt Rd Oval redevelopment, despite heritage groups voicing their opposition.

The Richmond Football Club wants to extend the size of its iconic oval in East Melbourne which would result in the 104-year-old Jack Dyer Stand being demolished along with the adjoining 1984-built administration building.

A new building complex including the “William Cooper Centre” would be built featuring multiple levels and dedicated spaces for traditional owners’ groups, over a podium that proposes to include an external grandstand that would accommodate 1800 spectators. There would also be a new multi-level car park concealed beneath a landscaped terrace connecting to Yarra Park.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the $65 million proposal during their Future Melbourne Committee meeting on May 3, which will now be assessed by the state’s Planning Minister for final approval.

Laura Thomas, town planner for Richmond Football Club, said the club was committed to staying at Punt Rd Oval and continuing its contribution “to the life and colour of Richmond” but to do “so requires investment in the facilities to secure the club’s long-term future at Punt Rd.”

“We’ve seen other clubs leave their traditional homes for larger spaces in the suburbs, resulting in a loss of connection of these clubs these places of origin,” she said.

“Richmond do not want to sever this vital historic link.”

Ms Thomas said the redevelopment would allow the club to have “state-of-the-art” facilities.

“A core requirement is that the oval be reconfigured and reoriented to the dimensions of the MCG, and this has had significant impacts on the viable masterplan options.”

The council’s planning chair and Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said councillors had “very carefully considered” the plans.
He said Punt Road Oval and Yarra Park held a “significant place in Melbourne’s history – as the birthplace of the AFL and as a traditional meeting place for local Aboriginal groups.”
“It is important any proposal to redevelop the site is sensitive to its history,” he said.

However, Dr Charles Sowerwine, chair of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria heritage committee, which opposed the plans along with the East Melbourne Group, said the Jack Dyer stand “embodies so much cultural history that it really should be maintained.”

He said the administration building should instead remove to create “much of what is achieved in this plan.”

The Jack Dyer Stand was built in 1913, and was renamed after the Richmond Football Club, legend, “Captain Blood”, in 1998. •

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