So I have yet another alleged fire to report about at Larundel; the former mental institution that is now heritage listed but left now in wrack and ruin. The very place I adore enough to use as a setting for one of my novels, The Ring of Lost Souls. This time is a little different though: someone has apparently been injured.
Larundel has been vacant since it’s closure in the 1990′s. Since then it has been a fast favourite for the homeless, urban explorers and graffiti artists. It has also been popular with angry youth, arsonists and graffiti taggers.
So you can imagine the state it’s in now.
In 2011, Deal Corporation bought a vast tract of Larundel from VicUrban and started to develop the site. Several of the original buildings have since been restored and converted into apartments as well as a small shopping district being set up around it.
Several buildings, however, have not been restored, and according to the last time I spoke with Polaris (the company doing the restoration and development work on the Larundel site) back in April 2012, these buildings have not been earmarked for restoration.
And this is where my concern lies.
We now have a brand-spanking new hub within Larundel. You can shop there and you can live there; everything is shiny and new. And right next door is derelict buildings that are heritage listed. Polaris don’t want to restore them, yet they can’t pull them down either.
What is one to do, I wonder?
Since July of this year there has been a number of alleged fires reported at Larundel. Co-incidence? Make of that what you will, I guess. But, to be honest, I am starting to wonder if this is a rather convenient way for the problem that is the Larundel hospital to magically disappear?
Yep, I’m putting it out there. Are all these fires the work of teens or is someone ‘encouraging‘ them to light them?
And now, with this latest fire, there seems to have been an injury. Unconfirmed reports have come to hand saying that a 16 year old child has lit a fire in the roof of the hospital building at Larundel and then fell through a hole in the floor. The hospital is only two stories high, but depending on where they fell through, you could call it three stories, with the slope of the land.
I know this sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory, but recently the tight security and high fences have been banished and people are now free to walk around the buildings. The warnings of asbestos seem to have been forgotten too. While wooden and metal panels were placed over all doors and windows on the ground levels of all remaining unrestored buildings, it took several days for this to occur and people were able to freely walk around the grounds and enter the buildings that had been under lock and key for many years.
Why, all of a sudden, are these buildings accessible? Is it any co-incidence that many fires have broken out?
Who is to blame if this 16 year old child has seriously injured themselves? And who will be held accountable if these buildings – the very place the drug Lithium was discovered and developed – burn to the ground?
Source (for Larundel ownership ONLY): Preston Leader - Larundel makeover in site as shovels dig in
(Photo Credit: Rachel Tsoumbakos)