For those who appreciate Heritage listings and the buildings protected by such rulings, the month of May has seen three spectacular results. In the first, the Corkman Developers have broken ranks with one developer Mr Raman Shaquiri (Partner) admitting to illegally demolishing the heritage listed hotel in October 2016. In another major coup, the City of Melbourne have agreed with Heritage Victoria to drastically alter its plans to ‘redevelop’ the Queen Victoria Market. The council now acknowledge the need for a new plan for the ‘project’. Finally those who own Heritage buildings and leave them in disrepair and neglect face the prospect of now being served an order to carry out urgent repairs or face hefty fines. These rulings have all been welcomed by the State Government and its Planning Minister Mr Richard Wynne.
In the Corkman case it seems there is a rather futile attempt by the development company’s other Director Mr Stefc Kutlesovski to avoid penalties, pleading not guilty to the charges associated with knocking down the hotel. As well their company ‘160 Leicester Property Ltd’ has been charged. It too has pleaded guilty to a number of charges.
Here is the report on the court proceedings from the ABC News.
Developer pleads guilty to illegal demolition of Melbourne’s historic Corkman pub
One of the developers charged over the illegal demolition of a 160-year-old Irish pub in inner Melbourne has pleaded guilty, but his fellow director is preparing to fight the charges.
Developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski, and their company 160 Leicester Proprietary Limited, were charged for knocking down the Corkman Irish Pub at Carlton in October, 2016.
It is alleged they were planning to develop the property occupied by the pub, which was built in 1858.
Mr Shaqiri left the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court briskly to avoid the waiting media after admitting to being a director of a company that permitted the demolition despite not having a building permit, and failing to exercise due diligence to prevent the company from contravening the planning scheme.
The company, 160 Leicester Proprietary Limited, also pleaded guilty to a number of charges.
Co-director prepares to fight charges
Mr Kutlesovski has indicated he will plead not guilty and is set to face a four-day hearing in January. The court heard up to nine witnesses will give evidence.
Mr Shaqiri will have to wait until his co-director’s case has been finalised before he’s sentenced.
Magistrate Sarah Dawes earlier expressed her frustration at the delay in hearing the case, after it was initially scheduled to happen earlier this week.
The court heard the men and their business were initially being represented by the same lawyer but a conflict of interest between the parties had arisen and it was not able to go ahead.
Ms Dawes said it was “unacceptable” that the hearing had to be delayed seven months, effectively for the developers’ “convenience”.
Mr Shaqiri’s barrister agreed it was “regrettable”.
Ms Dawes refused the media’s request for access to the prosecution summary of evidence against Mr Shaqiri despite his guilty plea.
The Queen Victoria Market re-development has been stalled since Robert Doyle stepped down as Mayor of Melbourne. It appears that council has recognised this is a project that needs a drastic re-think. Apart from the general community disquiet over the presented plans, the ruling by Heritage Victoria has halted the project forthwith.
Read about it here in an article from the Age Newspaper dated 14th of May 2018.
Queen Vic Market plans on ice after council backs down from shed fight
Plans for the Queen Victoria Market will be drastically altered by Melbourne City Council, after it backed down from a battle with the state’s heritage authority over its proposal to refurbish 140-year-old sheds.
The city council had wanted to temporarily remove four of the market’s heritage sheds and, while they were being restored, dig three levels of underground parking and service areas for traders.
But that plan was halted in March when Heritage Victoria said it could not accept assurances the sheds could be returned to the site in their original condition.
The heritage authority also rejected the council plan because its officers believed the fabric of the 19th-century market would be irreversibly altered if the project went ahead.
On Monday, council officers and acting lord mayor Arron Wood said they would go back to the drawing board with plans for the project.
The council may dump altogether plans for underground services beneath market sheds A to D as it had planned.
It will spend around six months coming up with a new plan for hundreds of car parking spaces the council must provide under an agreement struck with the Victorian government in 2013.
What has been proposed?
Under that deal, the council will build a new park on the site of the current open-air car park next to the market.
But in return for other state-owned land next to the market being given to it, the council must provide an equal amount of car parking elsewhere.
It had relied on putting car parking underneath the refurbished heritage sheds.
The council wants to redevelop the market to ensure it provides a brighter future for the produce and retail centre – which because of apartment development on its doorsteps will have an extra 22,000 residents living nearby within half a decade.
Acting lord mayor Arron Wood said he was disappointed the council would not proceed with its original plan for the market sheds.
“I can’t fathom the fact that you can’t dismantle some pretty basic construction like those sheds and refurbish them and return them in a much better state,” he said.
He had initially reacted with anger at the Heritage Victoria ruling, pledging to challenge it.
But Cr Wood said he had “gone through the five stages [of grief] here and spent a fair bit of time and anger”; he was now reconciled to revamping plans for the market.
While he wanted the underground project to go ahead, Cr Wood it was just one of 13 works packages in the redevelopment plan.
And he said a legal challenge by the council against Heritage Victoria’s decision to reject the underground plan would not have been ‘‘a great look, for one government entity to be going after another government entity through the courts. It doesn’t win hearts and minds’’.
He said perhaps the council had failed to sell its redevelopment plans effectively, but that there had been a massive amount of consultation of traders and customers before it had pressed ahead with its ultimate plans for putting services underground.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne is expected to soon release his decision on a separate project tied to the Queen Victoria Market renewal, a 42-storey apartment tower and community centre to be co-developed by the city council and property group PDG.
The Age asked Mr Wynne his views on the council’s rethink of its current plans for underground services beneath the heritage sheds.
“We’ve been very clear that any development of the market will have to respect and preserve the rich character and heritage that makes it what it is,” Mr Wynne said.
Some traders who would have been directly affected by the underground project were celebrating on Monday, saying they were glad it would be re-thought.
Among them was Paul Ansaldo, who with his wife and children has run a fruit stand at the market for the past 31 years.
Their stalls are in the sheds that were to be dug up, and he said the implications of putting their storage areas underground had never been properly thought through by the council.
This included making traders reliant on lifts to bring fruit and vegetables up to the surface from cold stores below ground.
“There are a lot of people who don’t get along around here – can you imagine the debacle we would have had if we were all underground in a tight space?
“If you don’t talk to one bloke, you’re going to have a blue over who gets their fruit in the lifts first. There would’ve been a murder committed,” he joked.
He said the council should focus on promoting the market, not redeveloping the sheds.
But another trader, wine seller Marshall Waters who celebrated a decade at the market last week, said there was already enough promotion.
A supporter of the council’s plans, Mr Waters said it was tragic the project would not go ahead in the format proposed before Heritage Victoria struck it down.
“Why Heritage [Victoria] refused that permit is totally beyond me – I don’t think it’s anything to do with heritage, it’s to do with politics. It’s appalling we are so ruled by stupid populist decisions like this. It was a great project and now it’s basically dismantled.”
Finally, perhaps the most significant news item. The State Government has introduced new laws to ensure Heritage listed buildings are not left neglected, to be demolished, damaged or excavated. The penalties for doing so now include fines up to $375K or a maximum five years jail.
It has long been the practice of some developers to simply allow a building to become so damaged and beyond repair, the simplest solution seemed to be to demolish the building. With the blatant actions at the Corkman Irish Pub and the former Metro Night Club at the top of Bourke St it became an imperative to step in and protect Victoria’s rich heritage.
Read about the new laws and some examples of how these laws are to be enacted in this article, also from The Age, May 3 2018.
Owners of neglected heritage-listed buildings in Victoria ordered to start repairs
Derelict, abandoned and vandalised: at first glance it is hard to believe Macedon House in Gisborne and Valetta House in East Melbourne are prized state-listed heritage assets.
The owners of the two heritage-protected homes, neglected for many years, have just been ordered to carry out urgent repairs or face hefty fines.
It is the first time the state government has issued a repair order since new laws were passed last year aimed at cracking down on property owners or developers who flout heritage rules.
The two buildings have fallen into such a state of disrepair that the state government’s heritage authority has ruled their future preservation is under threat.
After years of concern from conservation lobby groups, planning minister Richard Wynne last week signed off on orders that require the owners to comply with a list of repairs by a given deadline.
The state government last year strengthened its power to enforce repairs and doubled penalties for unauthorised works to heritage-listed places.
People found to have demolished, damaged or excavated one of Victoria’s 2400 heritage-listed assets face fines of up to $373,000 or a maximum five years’ jail.
“Those lucky enough to own heritage assets have a responsibility to maintain them — and we’ll ensure they do,” Mr Wynne said.
Macedon House, about 50 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, dates back to the 1840s. The single-storey bluestone building is considered a rare surviving example of an early Victorian hotel.
Once buzzing with travellers in the gold rush era, the building has long been abandoned and left to decay. Windows have been smashed and boarded up, the walls punched with holes and graffiti scrawled on the building’s facade.
Melbourne businessman and developer Brian Forshaw last year sold the property, with plans to develop it into a retirement village, for $1.21 million — but the transaction is yet to settle. Title records show Gary Braude placed a caveat over the title in September.
The local council’s website states the application for the retirement village was withdrawn in March.
The repair orders state the site must be cleaned up, and all doors and windows secured within 21 days. The government has also given a 90-day deadline for drainage works and the underpinning of external bluestone.
In East Melbourne, Valetta House, built in 1856, was the home of Sir Redmond Barry, the Supreme Court judge who presided over the Ned Kelly trial. The grand mansion has been empty for many years but its owner, psychiatrist Despina Mouratides, has previously said she plans to renovate and move into the residence.
Ms Mouratides declined to comment when contacted by Domain on Thursday.
She has been ordered to reinstate all windows, doors and locks, and undertake external conservation works by May 14.
In the past two decades, the state government has only stepped in and issued repair orders for two other buildings: the Criterion Hotel in Sale and Camberwell’s Boyd House.
Property owners served with a repair order can seek a review in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Heritage isn’t just a word. Our Heritage is in fact who we are and how we came to be who we are. It’s the buildings, the culture, the people, the social interaction. In terms of buildings and structures it’s often something of great beauty, other times it’s just something simple, something unique, ultimately something precious.
There are battles ahead. St Vincent’s Private Hospital is planning to demolish or partly demolish three significant buildings in Old Fitzroy. The Queen Victoria Market is by no means safe. Safer, but not yet safe. Each week new buildings are earmarked for development. In South Melbourne just last week the old AAV Building in Bank St with associated property has been offered for sale – and development – for a cool $40 Million. The owners of the current ANZ bank building on the corner of Bank St and Clarendon St have applied to demolish the rear ‘addition’ completed quite tastefully in the 1970s and throw up a multi-storey office block.
The choice is rather stark. Keep the facades and build canyons of multi-storey apartment blocks or provide real heritage protection. And the truth is the choice is really yours – if you choose to exercise it. Beautiful streetscapes, wonderful old buildings, or concrete canyons. What legacy do you want to leave the next generation?
Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings. For further information on Balance Architecture’s services or to make an appointment for a free consultation, please click here or call 0418 341 443.