The Corkman Irish Pub was demolished illegally without planning or heritage approval on the weekend of the 15th and 16th of October, 2016. Formerly known as the ‘Carlton Inn’ it was, prior to demolition, one of the oldest buildings in Carlton, having been built in 1856. Originally a quarter acre allotment on the corner of Leicester and Pelham Streets, a Mr R Hepburn purchased it in 1853 and then subsequently subdivided the crown allotment into smaller 70ft x 70ft allotments. Construction of the hotel commenced in 1856 with the hotel trading in 1857 licensed to a Mr George Edmonds.
The City of Melbourne Heritage Overlay described the building as follows –
Historically significant as one of the earliest extant buildings in this part of Carlton, which has undergone substantial change since the time of its original construction in 1857. The Carlton Inn is of historical significance as a good example of the Victorian Period. The facade is relatively plain and generally indicative of the early to mid Victorian period, though the parapet may date to the later Victorian period. The facade has a stucco finish but the original corner section may be partly stone.
Property Developers Stefce Kutlesovski, Raman Shaqiri and their company 160 Leicester Pty Ltd face 16 charges laid by the Victorian Building Authority and the Melbourne City Council.
Council has accused the parties of demolishing a building without a permit, ignoring a stop work order, and carry out demolition whilst unregistered and in breach of planning laws.
Penalties for the offences range from $3000 to $388,000, with Planning Minister Richard Wynne stating the developers could face fines of more than $1 million in total, at the time of the demolition.
Builders rubble containing Asbestos from the site was found dumped in the open by the EPA at Cairnlea in Melbourne’s western suburbs, uncovered and unprotected. The EPA fined the developers $7500. As of January 2017, the EPA has issued a total of $31,000 in fines for non-compliance against the Developers. At the time the developer owners informed the Victorian Government they would rebuild the pub. That was then.
The building was destroyed by Shaq Demolitions and Excavations. The business is half owned by Raman Shaqiri. In essence the company that paid $4.76 million for the pub in August 2014 half owned the demolition company.
Raman Shaqiri holds both a valid demolition license and a current building license, issued by the Victorian Building Authority. One could possibly deduce that Mr Shaquiri essentially thumbed his nose at the authority and its regulations.
The Union Movement through the Trades Hall Council and the CMFEU have imposed Green Bans on the site of the demolished building, the first such bans in over a decade.
The Developers have ‘dug in’ hiring top ‘Silk’ Stuart Morris QC, a top planning barrister, to represent them.
Initially the Developers had sent a letter to Planning Minister Richard Wynne conceding their fault, saying they had ‘breached faith with the community and made very serious errors of judgement’. They undertook to immediately restore the building at their expense. But they didn’t.
In June 2017 the Developers commenced action in the Supreme Court, suing the Planning Minister Richard Wynne, in a further bid to build a high rise construction on the site. Success would see the land purchased for $4.76 Million in 2014 ($1.56 Million above its reserve) revalued at $10 Million; Not hard to see the driving force here.
Mr Wynne will appear and defend the Supreme Court action. In his statements Mr Wynne has reiterated the Government’s requirement for a rebuild and compliance with the requirements of the Victorian Building Authority, the City of Melbourne and the Environmental Protection Authority. The order stipulates that as much of the original materials as is possible should be used in the rebuild.
For their part Mr Shaqiri and Mr Kutlesovski now seek the overturning of Planning Minister Wynne’s rulings – based on the fact the demolition ‘received extensive media coverage’. They argue Mr Wynne acted with ‘ulterior purpose’ of seeking to punish them – the implication being he did so for political purposes and gain.
Further they say Mr Wynne ‘failed to give them adequate opportunity to be heard’ or ‘to observe the rules of natural justice’.
If successful, the pair can expect the 40m height limit to be restored to the site, allowing for a 13 storey building on the site. Interestingly, preliminary drawings by CHT Architects have emerged of a 12 storey building the developers were planning for the Corkman site.
The Age, July 20th 2017
In VCAT a separate case brought by the Planning Minister Mr Wynne seeks an order forcing the pair to rebuild. Again they are resisting even after previously promising to rebuild.
“The orders sought are vague, imprecise and incapable of being complied with”
Such an order would be ‘oppressive’ their lawyer said.
And so on, the lawyers seek damages, costs and so forth.
The Corkman Pub, formerly the Carlton Inn, survived 159 years. It was a favoured ‘watering hole’ for generations of Melbourne University students. Owned continuously for over a century by one family, the Nobles, as in any working pub it saw changes over the years. In 1939 Architects Thomas Watts and Sons designed a new rear addition including kitchen, and provided alterations to the front bar. A two storey section was built on the eastern boundary in 1936. J.A. Trencher was the architect, with the new addition again seeing the kitchen moved and additional bed rooms added. Further alterations in 1954 by Architect Harry D Little saw the addition of single storey sections for laundry, toilets, a garage and fuel store, all replacing former outbuildings.
It’s obvious that the works were carried out with care, skill and expertise.
The recent works carried out by Shaq Demolitions utilised a Komatsu excavator, large tippers and sledge hammers, was perhaps less subtle.
It is the view of Balance Architecture that the ‘Developers’ should be hit with the full force of the law and be fined at the level that simply makes the projected plan uneconomical and unfundable. Never again should such appalling corporate behaviour be tolerated in the building industry.
And, brick by brick, bluestone block by bluestone block, vintage doors, vintage windows, floorboard by floorboard, Mr Raman Shaqiri and his partner Mr Stefce Kutlesovski must be forced to rebuild, restore and pay all costs on rebuilding the Corkman Hotel to its original state pre-demolition.
Melbourne’s heritage is precious, its time to make a stand.