Plans to replace old toilet block at iconic Fitzroy Gardens get under way 

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Brendan Rees

The City of Melbourne will seek permission from Heritage Victoria to replace an old toilet block at the historic Fitzroy Gardens, in a move supported by residents.

Concern has grown about the dilapidated state of the current toilet facility on the corner of Lansdowne St and Wellington Pde in East Melbourne, with the council conceding it has “degenerated over the years and does not meet current accessibility requirements or building codes”. 

The council is designing the new toilet block, which may have concrete walls and a steel plate roof and consist of one accessible and two regular toilet stalls, with a combined hand wash basin area. Baby change facilities within the accessible cubicle are also proposed.  

The council intends to seek a permit from Heritage Victoria to progress the project within the iconic gardens, which were established in 1848, and are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, but the toilet building “is not classified by Heritage Victoria, meaning a replacement facility in a different style can be contemplated”.

A heritage permit application to undertake the works has been advertised on the Heritage Victoria website and in The Age since June 7.

According to the council, the current green cast-iron toilet block was built in 2005 to a replica design based on the design for public urinals installed by the City of Melbourne during the early 20th century.  

Residents have welcomed the news, with the East Melbourne Group president Greg Bisinella saying the current toilet facility was “not particularly user friendly with heavy doors and accessibility issues for some”.

“We support the upgrade of these facilities for the benefit of all park users,” he said.

The project comes after the council acknowledged that regular parks surveys revealed “visitors consistently rate our toilets as not meeting their expectations, so we are working to change this”.

In other developments in East Melbourne, the council has begun works to install outdoor exercise equipment at Powlett Reserve, which will consist of steppers, an inclined press, a cross trainer, a chest press and a pull-down machine.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the $190,000 project was another reason for the community “to make the most of this magnificent space, while supporting their health and fitness goals”.

“Powlett Reserve is a much-loved part of East Melbourne, and its play equipment, tennis courts and green open space are well utilised by residents and visitors,” she said.

“Our community told us that this is the equipment they would like to see at the reserve, and soon they’ll be able to use it and get active in this open outdoor space.” 

The EMG supported the initiative, saying it was pleased to be able to work closely with the council and East Melbourne community to bring exercise equipment to Powlett Reserve. 

Work to install the equipment began in June and was expected to be completed by early July.

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