Lane’s future set in stone
Dozens of bluestone lanes in Melbourne’s north have been saved from cement mixers after Moreland Council shelved controversial plans to pave them over.
Before a packed gallery of more than 100 residents on Wednesday night, councillors unanimously declared Moreland a ”bluestone city” and voted down plans that would have concreted over 47 kilometres of non-heritage-protected laneways.
It was instead agreed to preserve and promote Moreland’s entire bluestone laneway network spanning almost 70 kilometres and believed to be the largest of any Australian municipality, despite warnings council rates could rise as a result.
Mayor Oscar Yildiz said reconstructing laneways in bluestone, which costs $155 a square metre compared with $85 for concrete, would come at a greater expense to ratepayers.
But 90 per cent of the 428 submissions to council were against paving over any historic bluestone lanes with concrete.
The plan to pave over non-heritage bluestone lanes was adopted two years ago but was postponed due to a public backlash.
Brunswick resident Jan Humphries, of lobby group Save Brunswick’s Bluestone Laneways, said the gallery at the public meeting roared with applause when councillors voted to maintain the entire bluestone network.
”Bluestone lanes are part of the fabric of Moreland and lots of parts of inner Melbourne,” she said.
”We have so much development and the like with population growth, but now we get to keep a really nice part of our history.”
Cr Sue Bolton praised residents’ grassroots activism, comparing the campaign with those that blocked bids to bulldoze notable buildings such as the Melbourne City Baths during the 1970s.
”Moreland was built on bluestone because there were quite a number of quarries in the area, so we want to recognise this,” she said.
A report tabled at the meeting by a community working group pointed to benefits of bluestone, including a longer lifespan than concrete and rainwater permeability.
Under the new policy, parts of footpaths that intersect with bluestone lanes will be smoothed with concrete to improve disability access.