City of Melbourne councillors have rejected a plan to give a South Yarra apartment block heritage protection that residents feared would jeopardise their hope to sell the old building to developers and allow more homes to be built.

On Monday, The Age reported the curtain wall-style block on Walsh Street, called “Motstone”, was one of 16 properties and two new precincts set to receive protection as part of a South Yarra heritage review initiated by Melbourne City Council.

Sarah Creane, a resident of Motstone in South Yarra.

Sarah Creane, a resident of Motstone in South Yarra.Credit: Penny Stephens

But on Tuesday night, Councillor Rohan Leppert, who leads the City of Melbourne’s heritage portfolio, moved an amendment that exempted the 13-apartment building from heritage protections.

Leppert’s amendment still said the postwar building met the threshold to be classed as “significant” to South Yarra’s heritage, but instead categorised it as “non-contributory” because council found “the higher threshold for demolition ought not apply.”

Leppert said the building had unique challenges and accepted the owners corporation faced “eye-watering costs” to maintain it and improve its poor energy efficiency.


“So I think we should grant the request of the submitters,” he said. “This is a one-off consideration, given the unique characteristics of the site and its strata ownership, not a precedent for this building topology generally.”

The amendment passed unanimously.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp, Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece, Councillor Roshena Campbell and Councillor Kevin Louey were excused from the vote having declared a conflict of interest due to a campaign donation.