The City of Melbourne Acts to Protect Heritage

The City of Melbourne Planning Department has seen two recent results that provide some measure of support for Heritage Values in the CBD and near city environs.

In Carlton, the Corkman Pub demolishers have pleaded guilty to illegally demolishing the 159 year old pub and will likely face fines of $388,000 each as well as their company also being fined some amount.

In another move, the City of Melbourne has successfully applied to deny Singapore Developer Michael Kum’s plans to turn the historic Equity Chambers located at 472-478 Bourke St into another CBD hotel.

First the Corkman Saga.

From the Age 29.01.2019

Corkman cowboys plead guilty to illegally knocking down Carlton pub

The developers who knocked over Carlton’s Corkman Irish Pub in 2016 without planning or building permission have pleaded guilty to its illegal destruction.

Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

They and their company 160 Leicester each face fines of $388,000 for their demolition of the pub that was built in 1857.

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The Corkman pub in 2015

The pair admitted on Tuesday to having knocked down without permission the 159-year-old building, which was not heritage listed but that sat within a protected historic area.

Instead of applying to Melbourne City Council to raze the pub, the pair – led by Shaqiri, a licensed demolisher – instead simply bowled it over one Saturday in October 2016.

The court heard the pair were ordered to stop by Melbourne City Council’s building inspector late that Saturday afternoon, after about 80 per cent of the demolition was complete.

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The demolished remains of the Corkman pub

Despite this, they returned the next day to finish off the illegal works.

Soon after the pub was knocked down, Planning Minister Richard Wynne brought in new laws making jail time possible for people found guilty of illegal building works in Victoria.

Corkman Irish Pub opposite Melbourne University’s law building has been demolished after being sold to a local developer for $1.56 million above its reserve in 2014. (Video courtesy: Francisco Ossa)

Those laws do not affect the Corkman pair, who are only liable for financial penalties.

The penalties, to be handed down next month, follow almost $600,000 in fines they were ordered to pay last year after the Environment Protection Authority prosecuted them for the illegal dumping of asbestos and for failing to secure the site next to the University of Melbourne’s law school.

The pair later indicated they would appeal those fines.

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Raman Shaqiri leaves the Magistrates Court in 2018

Raman Shaqiri leaves the Magistrates Court in 2018.Credit:Joe Armao
While the Carlton site has lain dormant since the late 2016 demolition, another site developed by a company the pair own, at the corner of Brunswick Road and Lygon Street in East Brunswick, has seen a nine-level apartment building completed.

Barrister Nicholas Papas, QC, appearing for Mr Kutlesovski on Tuesday, agreed that his client had failed to get “appropriate permits” before knocking down the pub.

The two developers bought the pub for $4.8 million in 2015.

After the 2016 demolition, Melbourne City Council joined with the planning minister to seek an order compelling the pair to rebuild a version of the pub using whatever materials could be salvaged from its wreckage.

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Developer Stefce Kutlesovski leaves the magistrates court in 2018

Legal wrangling has seen a hearing over that order delayed, but it will now be heard by the state planning tribunal in June.

A fire was deliberately lit in the Carlton pub, once called the Carlton Inn, a week before it was illegally demolished.

After a public outcry over the demolition, both Kutlesovski and Shaqiri initially promised to rebuild the pub immediately.

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Soon after they reversed this position, and ever since have made no commitments to do anything on the site, and have used the courts to delay actions against them.

Sentencing of the men has been adjourned until February 20.

Source: theage.com.au

To date the developers are facing fines in the vicinity of $1.6M. As well they have been ordered to rebuild the hotel using the original materials, incorporating all the original features and details where possible.

In the second issue, the developer seemingly had ‘slipped under the radar’ with his company’s purchase of the Equity Chambers located at 472-478 Bourke St in June 2017. Upon applying to re-model it and incorporate it into plans for a multi-storey hotel, the council decided not to permit the planned development.

Again from the Age, 30.01.2019.

Bourke Street hotel hits planning hurdle

Singapore tycoon Michael Kum’s plans to expand his hotel holdings in Melbourne hit a planning hurdle earlier this year after authorities rejected his bid to amend a permit to build a hotel in the historic Equity Chambers in Bourke Street.

Mr Kum’s M&L Hospitality paid $30 million for the inter-war Equity Chambers office at 472-478 Bourke Street in June 2017, a purchase which at the time slipped under the radar.

The heritage-listed, Romanesque style, six-storey building has an elaborate portico, foyer, coffered ceilings and rooftop terrace.

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An amendment to the original planning permit changed its use into a hotel and office plus 151 apartments.

It was built in 1931 on the site of Melbourne’s first synagogue.

M&L Hospitality purchased the property with an existing planning permit allowing for the partial demolition and development of a residential extension, taking the building to 17 levels with 215 apartments.

An amendment to the original planning permit approved in May 2018 changed its use into a hotel and office plus 151 apartments, but also included – significantly – some stringent setbacks.

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The new setback controls require Mr Kum’s company to alter its plans and remove three hotel rooms from level 5 and an outdoor terrace on level 6.

The Singapore-based real estate billionaire, whose wealth was originally acquired in shipping, objected to the change and made a bid in Victoria’s planning tribunal to delete the new conditions requiring the setbacks.

Melbourne Council maintains the setbacks were needed for the hotel plans to comply with mandatory requirements in its planning scheme.

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Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal member Philip Martin ruled in favour of the council but said the case involved a “very complicated and challenging area of the CBD planning controls”.

“Hence it is clear to me that there is no ‘black and white’ answer to this dispute,” Mr Martin said.

M&L Hospitality said it would abide by the ruling and not appeal the decision. Further planning was underway and the company would push on with building the hotel, it said.

Industry data from STR shows Melbourne’s hotel room supply rose 2.5 per cent over the year to last August with a corresponding 1.8 per cent rise in demand.

Revenue per available room – the industry metric for judging performance – rose 1.3 per cent to $151.18 over the same period. Since then the city has hosted the Australian Open tennis tournament, which usually fills hotel rooms to bursting.

M&L’s website lists a portfolio of 18 upmarket hotels in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Europe largely managed by Hilton, as well as Australia’s biggest hotel, the recently enlarged Hyatt Regency at Darling Harbour in Sydney.

Its Melbourne property at 270 Flinders Street operates under the DoubleTree by Hilton brand.

Source: theage.com.au

Balance Architecture is also now privately reviewing the building located at 1 Victoria Ave Albert Park. Current plans for the building and site see its imminent demolition and the construction of a four storey glass structure. The ‘Don’t Destroy Albert Park’ group believe the proposed building is significantly out of character in this existing heritage precinct, as does Port Phillip council. The Developer has appealed the matter to VCAT and a hearing is scheduled for March 18th in an attempt to overturn Council’s decision.

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1 Victoria Ave Albert Park

You can find more detail here https://www.dontdestroyalbertpark.com.au/ and if possible you could add your support to their campaign.

Victoria Avenue is an iconic heritage shopping strip with many old and beautiful buildings as is nearby Bridport St with the famous Biltmore hotel.

Developers have gradually crept up the Clarendon St Hill and have now began to purchase on and within the Emerald Hill and Albert Park estates.

St Vincent’s Place remains sacrosanct but on its edges there are some very unsightly developments. Major multi-storey developments have now extended to Dorcas St with spot developments such as the 1 Victoria Ave proposal providing an entree of what is likely to come.

Next week we will provide a detailed report on the project and similar such activity in this heritage overlay area.

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