Wall quarrel rumbles on

PROPPED UP: The 19th century stone wall partially demolished during construction of the St John of God hospital car park.
PROPPED UP: The 19th century stone wall partially demolished during construction of the St John of God hospital car park.

The City of Greater Bendigo and St John of God hospital are at loggerheads over the fate of a partially-demolished 19th century stonewall, which was taken down during the construction of the hospital’s new car park. 

Just 13 metres of the structure remains, which was a boundary wall of the historic West End Hall site, built in the mid 1860s, according to an independent heritage advice report seen by the Bendigo Advertiser.   

The wall was partially demolished in 2015 and since then a number of planning discussions have ensued between council and the hospital over the type and height of wall to be reconstructed in its place, and the heritage significance of the wall. 

Frustrated neighbours have been left aghast at the inaction of both parties. 

The structure, standing at the eastern side of the Lily Street car park, is presently supported by metal rods attached to concrete bollards.

The heritage report states that prior to the partial demolition, the intactness and integrity of the wall had been heavily compromised.

“Courses of stone and capping appear to have been removed and significant portions of the wall have also been demolished and replaced with red brick or colorbond,” the report states. 

“As a compromise, it is considered that the construction of a masonry wall that is faced with stone cladding (sourced if possible from the rubble of the demolished section of the wall) would be an acceptable outcome in heritage terms.” 

It remains unclear how or when the wall will be reconstructed. 

St John of God hospital chief executive Darren Rogers said the heritage wall was part of the hospital’s history and it hoped to preserve it for future generations.

“Public safety is our first priority so we are in discussions with Bendigo council to determine how the wall can be conserved and enjoyed safely,” he said.

City of Greater Bendigo manager statutory planning Ross Douglas said council has been involved in discussions with the St John of God hospital and neighbouring property owners, and “is working with all parties to resolve the matter”.