The Espy Campaign 1997-2003
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The Esplanade Hotel (The Espy) has graced St Kilda’s foreshore promenade since 1878. For almost a century, its stages have hosted the finest performers from Australia and the world, none more so than in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s. So, when yet another redeveloper bought the site for a tower dream, concerns over the hotel’s physical and music future mobilised a determined opposition.
Set against a political battle of wills between State and local government for control over planning, the campaign to save the Espy took numerous twists and turns. The six-year battle sustained considerable media interest, attracted wide public involvement, and broke submission records.
Most importantly, it introduced into the Port Phillip Planning Scheme, for the first time, an amendment to protect the ‘cultural use’ of a place.