Historical information

Environmental approach to preserving Kew Court House
4 June 2010

Paint stripping from older buildings can be a hazardous task. The City of Boroondara has found an environmentally sustainable solution for the works at local heritage icon, the Kew Police Station and Court House.

Council used an organic based paint stripping alternative as part of the repairs to the rendering on the building facade. Over nearly three months, the damaged and unsound render was removed, the paint was stripped and the render was repainted.

Usually, paint is removed via high pressure water cleaning or sandblasting. This is a harsh method and involves combining extreme high amounts of pressure, water and sand and is highly toxic. It also creates high noise levels.

In this 'green' project, Council used a soy bean paint stripper. The process uses a paste-like substance, which is highly effective, non toxic and biodegradable, and applied by hand.

Initially, a bandage is applied (much like a leg waxing strip) over the top of paste. It is allowed to dry and then the bandage is stripped off. Noise was kept to a minimum by using the paint stripping alternative.

Scrapings and bandages are then bagged and sent to the tip as landfill, so it does not end up in our water supply. The waste and debris don’t run-off into drains, and the bags and bi-products are biodegradable.

Studley Ward Councillor Phillip Healey explained that soy bean paint removal is not greatly used in Melbourne or the local government sector.

"We know of special cases where it has been used, such as high profile projects like Sydney Harbour Bridge, but Boroondara is one of the first in Victoria to employ this natural plant-based paint-stripping treatment to a large-scale building," Cr Healey said.

"What this means is that no harmful substances were used and no injury was caused, soy paint removal also preserves, protects and restores the heritage integrity and decorative stone masonry features of the historic building.

"This is a terrific example of our commitment to 'enhancing the environment' which is one of our key directions in the 2010–15 Council Plan."

The restoration of the Kew Court House and Police Station is expected to be completed in the year ahead. Council purchased the heritage building in 2007 with the intention for it to be restored and used for the community.

The building required extensive renovation including repair of the slate roof and ventilation dome, and the renovation plans include a new foyer, bathrooms and kitchen to ensure the venue meets a broad range of community needs. Heritage Victoria helped fund the cost of the roof repairs with a grant of $250,000, along with the Australian Government contributing $330,000 through its Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program.

Restoration Underway

Concept plans for a new performance and exhibition space at the Kew Court House and Police Station have been developed by the City of Boroondara.

Two years ago, Council Purchased the Kew Court House and Police Station from the State Government for $825,000 with the intention for it to be restored and used for the community.

The building requires extensive renovation including repair of the slate roof and ventilation dome. The renovation plans include a new foyer, bathrooms and kitchen to ensure the venue meets a broad range of community needs.
The restoration has been assisted with a Federal Government grant of $330,000 under the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program.

In 2008, Council was also successful in obtaining a Heritage Victoria Grant of $250,000 towards the costs of the roof repairs. Having satisfied the necessary permit requirements, works are about to commence using slate of a similar quality to the original.

The City of Boroondara would like to thank all residents and businesses who have contributed to the Kew Court House Restoration Appeal which has raised $650,000.

Special thanks go to a private donor who donated $250,000 and the Kew Senior Citizens Club which contributed $50,000.

14th March

“Council moves to provide certainty for the restoration of the courthouse”.

In a historic meeting last night 13th March 07 at Boroondara Council voted overwhelmingly to complete the purchase of the Kew Court House. The partnership continues between the Kew Court House Restoration Appeal and the Council to see this project through. The project now has the overwhelming support of Council.

“It is no longer about “if” it is about “when” the doors will re open” said Prof Peter McIntyre.

With the property secured the fundraising can now be completed without the encumbrances and we know the restoration will be undertaken as the funds become available from the appeal.

Work can commence as soon as significant fund raising is achieved.

“The community, philanthropists and corporations can now enter this project with certainty.
7th March
At the Council meeting on 5th March, following many hours of debate a motion was passed by 5 to 4 vote to purchase the Kew Court House
and Police Station outright.

As of 7th March Cr Dick Menting lodged a rescission notice.

This means that there was another Council meeting at 6pm, Tuesday 13th March at Council Chambers.

MEDIA RELEASE - Kew, 3rd December 2006


On the morning of Saturday 18th. November 2006 the people of Kew were aroused by the triumphant sound of the Boroondara Brass which had assembled outside the former Kew Police Station.

After four long years of neglect, the precinct was being heralded back to life, and what a heartwarming sound it was for all those early shoppers who gathered to hear Cr. Phillip Healey introduce Patrons and supporters of the Save the Court House campaign.
Following the speeches, the "Thermometer" was unveiled and the Appeal was formally under way.

The various committees have worked very hard during these past weeks. The Kew Court House Arts Association Inc. has been formed under the leadership of Graeme McCoubrie. This organization brings all the amateur theatre groups in the City of Boroondara together with a view to providing them with a permanent performing space within the former Court House.

As well as intimate theatre, there will be provision for the staging of instrumental and choral performances before an audience of 40 to 50 people. The Police Station will compliment the function of the Court House by providing a venue for artist groups to exhibit their work, for the Historical Societies of Boroondara to meet, and for study groups to meet, for activities such as play and poetry readings.

It will be a Hub for the Arts in Kew.

Of course none of this can happen unless the money to pay for restoration of the buildings is raised, and we only have until March 2007 in which to do this.

The City of Boroondara, Kew Historical Society and the East Kew Community Bank are working together as a team to make this dream a reality, but WE NEED YOUR HELP.
This is a fantastic one-off opportunity, and it must not be wasted.

Donations to the Appeal can be made through the Kew East Kew Community Bank or any branch of the Bendigo Bank, or through the Kew Historical Society Inc., P.O. Box 175 Kew Vic 3101. All donations over $2 are tax deductible through the Community Enterprise Foundation.

End Media Release

Kew Courthouse future looks bright


The State Government has accepted an offer from the local government of Boroondara to purchase the former Kew Courthouse and Police Station, Minister for Finance John Lenders said today.

In a joint statement with the Mayor of Boroondara, Councillor Jack Wegman, Mr Lenders said he was pleased that agreement had been reached and the contract of sale document finalised.

“I welcome the Council making this step towards purchasing this property after recent negotiations,” Mr Lenders said.

“The settlement date for the purchase of the property is March 2007. The State government sold the property to Council at a reduced cost of $825,000 for community use. The full value of the buildings on the commercial marketplace was estimated to be about $2million,” he said.

Cr Wegman said the Contract of Sale provides that if the funds cannot be raised to restore the property for use as community buildings then they will be returned to the State government.

In relation to this additional funding to restore and modernise the buildings, Council and the community will work together over the next eight months, with the encouragement of the State government, Cr Wegman said.

Mr Lenders said both he and the Premier had advised the Council of fundraising opportunities to help the Council convert the property for its future use.

Cr Wegman noted that applications for funding from the Community Support Fund and for State government heritage grants were being processed.

“Council has agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kew Historical Society outlining arrangements for the Kew Court House Restoration Appeal and Council is delighted with the level of support shown by the community and is confident of a bright future for these historic buildings.”

Mr Lenders said the Bracks Government is committed to securing the best outcome when buildings that have once served the community outlive their original purpose.

“There is a responsibility for Governments to practice good financial management and achieve the best possible price when an asset is longer used by the State,” he said.

“There is also a responsibility to consider the local community. The Government and City of Boroondara have worked hard to achieve a balance between these two interests.”

The building ceased to operate as a courthouse in 1971 and as a police station in 2002. Part of the building was also used as a post office and this section of the building was sold by the Commonwealth in 1992 to a private owner and is currently run as a licensed restaurant.

It is listed on the State's Heritage Register as a place of historical and architectural significance and is protected by the Victorian Heritage Act.

Created: 30 August 2006
Last Update: 10 January 2007