The former Lyric and Star cinema on Johnston St (previously Jimmy Possum then Dog’s Breakfast and currently Dimmey’s) near the corner of Smith St may be demolished if planning approval is given for a new apartment building proposal to be located on the site, which spans the warehouse on the corner (currently Tongue and Groove) and the former cinema.
Planning application PLN13/0566 is inaccurately listed as 239-243 Johnston St on the City of Yarra website planning database but is actually 239-249 (it was listed 17 July 2013). I’ve obtained the original plans from the City of Yarra. I don’t understand why they don’t publish them on their website when they receive them. They expect you to go to Richmond to view the hard copy! Ridiculous. Here’s the planning application (dated 10 July 2013, 6.4mb pdf).
Update 3 October 2013: the previous paragraph is now out of date as the current plans are now available on the City of Yarra website.
The only reason I’m able to publish this now is thanks to a regular reader who alerted me to the issue, and who phoned council to clarify whether the plan included the cinema. His call clarified the issue faster than the response to my email query arrived. Council really does make it difficult for busy people to get information out of them. I’ve also asked them to correct the database record in relation to the street numbers.
If you’d like to know more about the history of the cinema, a research student has published a detailed website about it, and photos of the interior ceiling and exterior wall on the east side are below. I’m not a conservation or heritage absolutist. Not every old building needs to be saved. Some are more important than others. I do like how the original perimeter walls at least of some old Fitzroy factories and warehouses are preserved when the sites are redeveloped, such as with the new apartment building on the corner of Rose St and Gore St (where Breakfast Thieves is).
A drawing from the plan showing the view from the same corner as the above photo / courtesy of Hayball / copyright: used under the fair dealings provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 / c2013
What is significant about the cinema? The ceiling is impressive, and the porthole windows are charming. It’s a shame these couldn’t be incorporated into the new building, but that presumably imposes too many limitations on the use of space. If you wish to make an objection to council on heritage grounds, the time to act is now.