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Iconic gay pub torn down in Melbourne

Iconic gay pub torn down in Melbourne

Wreckers have begun tearing down an iconic gay pub in Melbourne's St Kilda after the local council's attempts to save it failed.

Crews started dragging down the 164-year-old Greyhound Hotel on Thursday, starting from the rear of the building.

The Port Phillip Council lobbied hard for the pub to be heritage protected but the application was refused by state Planning Minister Richard Wynne last week.

The Greyhound, built in 1853, has been a popular gay and drag venue in recent years and before that, it was well known as a rock pub.

It is not deemed architecturally significant enough to earn heritage status because of renovations in 1937, when it had an Art Deco makeover.

But an independent report in March found the hotel to be of historical, cultural and social significance, particularly to the local gay community.

"(It is) one of a few remaining buildings that reflect not only the history of Victorian hotels generally, but more locally chart the changing fortunes of St Kilda," the report by heritage consultants Context said.

"The local and broader Melbourne LGBTIQ community specifically has strong associations with the hotel, valuing it as a home, a venue for entertainment and a place that represents this community's identity."

Port Phillip mayor Bernadene Voss said she was saddened by the demolition of the "much-loved St Kilda landmark" after the efforts to save it.

The pub's owners want to build an eight-storey apartment tower in its place.

But the council rejected a planning application, saying the proposed building was too high and should incorporate part of the existing building.

The refusal was appealed and the case will come before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in June.

A petition to save the hotel, started by a local business owner, garnered more than 2700 signatures.

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