The ES&A Bank Building, Moonee Ponds – Restored and Revitalised by Balance Architecture

Not everyone has the opportunity to create a unique business destination in a century old bank. In recent articles we have admired the extraordinary banking chambers created from the mid 1880s until as late as 1926 by the ES&A Banking Group (now merged into the ANZ Banking Group). Some time ago, the banking group sold off the then ‘Moonee Ponds’ branch which was located on Bank St Ascot Vale, cnr of Mt Alexander Rd. Balance Architecture had the task of restoring it to its original glory.

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The new owner chose to utilise this remarkable building to operate a business consultancy from. The concept was not to ‘gut’ the place and rebuild internally, rather it was decided to focus on the fine detail of the original construction and return it to its former glory. Often the ES&A Bank buildings have a course of tiling placed just above the window levels, with the individual tiles crafted for the bank with its colours and icons. This building did not but the livery has been expressed above the arched windows and with the internal colour scheme.


Andrew Fedorowicz, principal architect for Balance Architecture and Interior Design wanted to capture the unique look and feel of this fine craftsmanship throughout the building. Inside the decorative dado stencils and original colour schemes finish the truly authentic feel of this magnificent building.


Rich mahogany timbers, brass fittings and the elegant furniture of the times compliment the superb interior design. Beautiful plaster wall mouldings and ceiling rosettes feature throughout the building. From the roadside the multifaceted mitred façade is set off by the intricate brickwork and upper circular windows.


The boardroom with its elegant marble fireplace, full gilded mirror and high ceiling in soft period wallpapers is simply breathtaking. Resplendent in deep greens, featuring a genuine period chandelier, the corporate colours of the old bank certainly live again.


When selecting an architect, its more than sensible to choose the architect sensitive to both your immediate needs and the living heritage of the building you have chosen to live in, work in or redevelop. Nothing can replace real experience. It is particularly true with Heritage buildings. Andrew Fedorowicz has spent a lifetime working on Heritage buildings (as well as many other projects) and is superbly positioned to assist you in the development of your project. He is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects, a lifetime achievement.

Whether it’s a modern interior that transforms an older property into a genuine luxury abode with the space and comfort you desire, or it’s a combination of both true heritage and today’s living spaces, consult with Balance Architecture and Interior Design to achieve the end result that will satisfy your aspirations. The result is a property both liveable and entirely beautiful in the simplicity of its design.


Call now on 0418 341 443 to speak directly with Andrew today. Make an appointment for a free, no-obligation consultation. Alternatively call 03 8696 9700 and arrange a time suitable to suit your needs. Leave your details here [Contact link] for a prompt reply.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Dartmoor Police Station moved to Port Fairy – Glenelg Shire Heritage Overlay ignored by Victorian Police.

The Dartmoor Police Station, a historic building listed on the Victorian Heritage Database, would appear to have been ‘illegally’ moved from its Dartmoor site to Port Fairy. Dartmoor is located within the boundaries of the Glenelg Shire Council. Port Fairy os located within the Moyne Shire boundaries. No permit was issued for the building’s demolition by Glenelg Shire Council, in fact the shire issued a cease works notice on Friday the 7th of June. Moyne Shire Council had separately issued a permit for the property for use as a dwelling.


It’s a confusing story, but it seems obvious that Victoria Police have ignored both the Heritage Listing by the Shire of Glenelg, and the Shire’s cease works order of the 7th of June.

Let’s put this in context. Here is the Victorian Heritage Database ‘Statement of Significance’…

The Dartmoor Police Station complex was completed in 1892. The new residence, stable and lock-up replaced the first police station in Dartmoor, close to the existing station, which had opened in 1862 and operated intermittently during the 1860s and 1870s, and the new site was reserved in 1884. The architectural drawings for the new residence and the stable were signed by HJM (J H Marsden) and also JHB (J H Brabin) and HRB (H R Bastow) of the Public Works Department. The first constable in the new station, the mounted trooper Constable Moore, was responsible for an area covering 650 square miles (almost 1700 square kilometres). In 1930 tenders were let for the renovation of the residence, and an additional office was added to the side of the original one. A new residence adjacent to the old one was built in the late 1980s, and the 1930s office was demolished in 1990. Plans to remove the rest of the residence and the stable at that time did not go ahead. A new police station was built in front of the stable in 2006.

The Dartmoor Police Station complex comprises a police residence with an office, a two-stall stable and forage store, and a small lockup. The residence is a single storey double-fronted timber building with a corrugated iron roof, and a projecting gable and a verandah across the front. The former office is in a small room on one end of the front verandah. The residence had a parlour and dining room off one side of a central passage and two bedrooms opening off the other side, and at the rear a kitchen and a pantry opened off a small back verandah. Minor alterations have been made at the rear with the addition of a bathroom and an opening made between the kitchen and the adjacent room. The two-stall stable and forage store is a timber building with a corrugated iron gable roof and a brick cobble floor. It was later used as a garage. A roller door has been added to the entrance and the horse stall partitions and feed boxes have been removed. The portable lock-up is a timber lock-up typical of many that were distributed through remote country areas in the late nineteenth century.

The Dartmoor Police Station is architecturally significant at a local level as an intact police complex of the early 1890s, comprising a police residence with an attached office, a two-stall stable and forage store, and a portable lock-up. It is historically significant at a local level as a demonstration of police practices in the remote parts of Victoria in the late nineteenth century, when the police office was responsible for policing a large area and was dependent on his horses for transport.

Construction date: 1892


Again, the situation is that the building had been ‘recommended for Heritage Overlay’, a limbo that often sees demolition occur before the Heritage Council of Victoria can inspect a building and report on its findings. But in this case no permit for demolition was authorised so the demolition was in fact illegal.

The ABC reported on the matter on Saturday June 15th. For your information here is the report…

Dartmoor residents angry with Victoria Police over ‘theft’ of heritage-listed police station


Residents of the small south-west Victorian town of Dartmoor are up in arms over the “theft” of their historic former police station.

The heritage-listed building was relocated by Victoria Police despite a council order demanding works be stopped due to a lack of appropriate permits.

Built in 1892, the former police station was the subject of a community campaign in the early 2000s to save it from demolition.

But about two weeks ago, residents noticed contractors were working at the empty building, which was located next to the new police station built in 2009.

Half of the building was put on a truck and taken to a residential block on the fringes of Port Fairy, just over 100 kilometres away.


Key points:

  • The original 1890s Dartmoor police station has been relocated by truck. Only one half of the building was initially taken
  • Glenelg Shire Council issued a cease-works notice to Victoria Police but the rest of the building was relocated in the early ours of Tuesday morning
  • Victoria Police say the building has not been sold and are working with council to find a “community-based” solution

No permits issued

Dartmoor District Museum proprietor, Michael Greenham, said he and other residents assumed the Department of Justice had “managed to rescind [the] heritage overlays … so that whatever they were doing was above board”.

But the bush telegraph started to suggest things were not above board, and Mr Greenham contacted Glenelg Shire Council.

A Glenelg Shire Council representative told Mr Greenham on Friday, June 7 that shire officers had left a message with the contractors and spoke with Victoria Police to issue a formal cease-works notice.

No permits had been issued for the heritage-listed building to be removed.

However when Dartmoor residents woke on Tuesday, June 11 the remaining half of the police station had also gone.

“It seems like it was either deliberate or ignorance,” Mr Greenham said.

“To have it quietly disappear — and the second half went before light early on Tuesday morning — it seemed a little bit too deliberate.”

Police put their case

Victoria Police is understood to have lodged a retrospective permit application, according to Glenelg Shire Council.

A police spokesperson said it did not receive a cease-work notice from the council.

“The old police station has not been sold, however it was recently relocated to a rural property in Western Victoria,” the spokesperson said.

“This was approved based on a 2009 report which stated that no planning overlays were in place for the site.”

The police spokesperson said that Victoria Police was actively working with the council to “mediate a community-based solution”.

The former police station and its nearby lock-up and stables, which remain on the block, were gazetted by Heritage Victoria in 2014.

The heritage organisation’s report described the former police station as:

“Architecturally significant at a local level as an intact police complex of the early 1890s … [and] historically significant at a local level as a demonstration of police practices in the remote parts of Victoria in the late nineteenth century.”

‘A bit of subterfuge’

Mr Greenham said the empty building “was always a bit of burden” for Victoria Police.

“Their main role isn’t to look after heritage buildings,” he said.

“They’ve got to man the streets and keep us safe.”

But Mr Greenham described the “theft” of the historic police station as “a little bit of subterfuge”.

“I reckon if I did something like that then Victoria Police would be down on me like a tonne of the demolished chimney bricks that are still sitting on site,” he said.

“It would indicate they didn’t want to go through that public process because they might have encountered some opposition to their plans.

“We could have easily come up with other alternatives; relocating it within the town, offering for public display somewhere else within our police district.”


A painting of the former police station by David Williams in 2004


The case highlights the inherent weaknesses of the current Heritage classification system. By applying for a heritage classification, Councils can freeze the issue of demolition permits. However with only limited staff, a full classification by the Heritage Council of Victoria can take up to 2 years.

In this case, there has been seemingly blatant disregard of the Glenelg Shire’s Heritage Overlay recommendation and the order to cease works. Police claim that they did not receive the cease work notice. This would seem to be an improbable claim.

The 1892 weatherboard building had been vacant for 10 years. It had been deemed ‘unsafe’ and ‘unfit for renovation’ (It’s not clear who made these declarations).

We conclude with an excerpt from the report by local newspaper for South West Victoria ‘The Standard’…

A council spokeswoman said the building, which is included in the council’s planning scheme heritage overlay, was removed from the Wapling Avenue address without council permission.

“A planning permit is required to remove or demolish a building, irrespective of size,” the spokeswoman said.

The 1892 weatherboard building was vacant in Dartmoor for 10 years and was deemed unsafe and unfit for renovation.

But the council attempted to stop the removal and issued Victoria Police and on-site contractors with a cease-works notice on Friday June 7.

“Council is still investigating the matter to consider appropriate enforcement actions and restitution,” the spokeswoman said.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman refuted that police received the cease-works notice and said a planning application had been lodged for the property’s address.

“The old police station has not been sold, however it was recently relocated to a rural property in Western Victoria,” she said.

“In relation to concerns raised by local residents, Victoria Police is actively working with Glenelg Shire Council to mediate a community-based solution.”

Moyne Shire Council planning manager Robyn Olsen said the council had granted a permit for the building to be moved onto private property in Port Fairy for use as a dwelling.

“Council was aware that the building was the old Dartmoor police station and have been in contact with Glenelg Shire for the planning permit information. There is a current building permit for the re-erection of the building,” Ms Olsen said.

It’s the principle that the application of the law in heritage terms should apply to everybody, and ignorance is no excuse.
Dartmoor District Museum’s Michael Greenham

Glenelg Shire mayor Anita Rank said it was “extremely disappointing” the council’s planning processes and heritage overlay had been disregarded.

“It’s relevant to its area of (original) location,” Cr Rank said of the structure.

“It’s of significance with regards to the history of law enforcement in Dartmoor and they have a very strong historical group up there who deem it significant.”

Dartmoor District Museum’s Michael Greenham said he believed the building had been sold and the community were disappointed with the principle of the sale.

“It’s the principle that the application of the law in heritage terms should apply to everybody, and ignorance is no excuse,” Mr Greenham said.

“It was bought as a dwelling from the house removalist and to my understanding (the buyer) is unaware of its significance.”

He said while the community had treasured the building, he believed there was little support for the building to be returned unless the town could put it to use.


In plain English, a house removalist has purchased and sold this historic building to an unwitting buyer.

This simply isn’t good enough. The buyer ends up with half a house, the township of Dartmoor loses it’s historic building, and the State of Victoria’s heritage is diminished once again.

There needs to be significant state-wide punitive measures put in place. In the UK if you illegally demolish a heritage building then you will be required to rebuild it to its original state and condition.

This plus much heavier fines may stop the cowboys of this world wreaking destruction on the valuable heritage of our state.

“It’s the principal that the application of the law in heritage terms should apply to everybody, and ignorance is no excuse.” – Dartmoor District Museum’s Michael Greenham.

We agree with Mr Greenham. This was an appalling blunder and quite simply the responsible parties should be held to account. Heritage values cannot be continually undermined by expedience, developers and profiteers.

It really is time to strengthen Heritage controls and prosecute those who disregard them.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Heritage wins! VCAT reject Developers appeal in Albert Park.

Sometimes the answer to a vexed question is obvious. In the case of the building on the corner of Victoria Ave and Merton St Albert Park, the proposed development – No. 1 Victoria Ave – was simply incongruous with its surrounds, the elegant Victorian Terraces of the late 19th Century and the Heritage overlay for the Albert Park precinct. Port Phillip Council has argued this in originally rejecting the proposed development before its promoters, the Saade Group appealed to VCAT.


Dr Alexander Aitchison, the great-grandfather of a past resident, in front of the building.

1 Victoria Ave Albert Park was the home and studios of renowned Australian Filmmaker Paul Cox. As can be seen from the early photo compared to the current state of the building, it has lost some of its lustre. But as was led in evidence at VCAT, the building is structurally sound, with only some minor cracking.


The Port Phillip Council, the National Trust, and more importantly the people of Albert Park considered it worth saving and acted to ensure the glass monstrosity proposed to replace it would not proceed. It was an entirely inappropriate development.

The original blog on the subject dated Feb 12th 2019 gives a well rounded picture of what was proposed and the objections raised. The result in VCAT vindicates the community’s position.

From The Age, June 12th.

Albert Park residents thrilled as VCAT rules in their favour on former home of Paul Cox


In scenes worthy of celebrated filmmaker Paul Cox’s own classic masterpiece Lust and Revenge, Albert Park residents are celebrating their own payback on the developer who wanted to demolish Mr Cox’s much-loved studios.

After raising $35,000 through crowd-funding, and collecting more than 1000 signatures protesting against a plan to replace the landmark 1880s two-storey corner building with much bigger “glass monstrosity”, they have managed to defeat the developer’s appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

They’re now also hailing the verdict as giving hope to others all around Melbourne who want to halt redevelopment unsympathetic to heritage streetscapes.


Locals rallied last year to protect the building from redevelopment.

“This decision is of great benefit to residents who, within heritage precincts, are fighting to prevent unsympathetic redevelopments of significant heritage buildings,” said local lawyer Peter Kenny, who’s been involved in the campaign to halt the proposal by The Saade Group to knock down the late Mr Cox’s home and offices in Victoria Avenue.

“Too often, planning decisions have been made without regard to any redevelopment being sympathetic to the surrounding streetscape. A streetscape of two-storey Victorian terraces should not have an ugly, modernistic four-storey building imposed within it.

“This decision will give great comfort to all residents within heritage precincts who wish to have their heritage streetscapes respected and preserved, and all architects and town planners need to take note.”

The Saade Group wanted to demolish the existing standalone building on the prominent island site in the heritage precinct, which had been remodelled in the 1920s and 1930s and owned by Mr Cox. It applied to put in its place a four-storey block containing seven apartments, a 100-seat restaurant, two shops and a basement car park.


The developers’ render of what its proposed project would have looked like.

“We are not satisfied that the replacement building displays the necessary level of design excellence to justify demolition of the existing building,” VCAT members John Bennett and Juliette Halliday ruled this week. “For this reason, we would not issue a permit for the demolition of the building.”

The receptionist at the offices of The Saade Group, which bought the 500-square-metre site for $5.67 million, said no one was available to comment.

But in Albert Park, the judgment is being celebrated.

“It’s absolutely wonderful, we’re still so shocked that we’ve won,” said one local, Brigid Niall.

“It’s the most incredible outcome and we want to thank everyone who put in their own money to save the building. When the council turned down the development application and then the developer appealed to VCAT, we hired our own lawyers and expert witnesses to fight them, as well as the council’s case. It’s a great win.”

Port Phillip council rejected the application after engineering consultants Irwin Consult found only some minor cracking within the building.

The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) also objected to the planned demolition, saying it was important to protect and conserve all significant and contributory heritage places within the area’s heritage overlay – mostly consisting of rows of double-storey Victorian residential shops, single-storey Victorian shops, terraces and Edwardian and inter-war shops.

Several tenants of the building were given notice by the developer, leaving only a handful operating from the premises.

The developer could now submit alternative plans for a replacement building but, to stand any chance of success, it would need to be smaller, with possibly fewer levels, and be more in keeping with its neighbours.

“But with a different size and design, I can’t see it would be financially viable,” said another of the Don’t Destroy Albert Park campaign organisers, Amber Moore. “We now know that the only way it can be demolished is if another design that’s put up that’s of ‘architectural excellence’.

“But for now we’re all in a little bit of shock and disbelief that the decision has been made in our favour. We’ve spent so much time looking at the building, wondering what was going to happen, and hoping that glass monstrosity wouldn’t be put there. We’re absolutely thrilled to bits.”


With hindsight, this conflict gives an interesting focus on redeveloping heritage buildings or indeed any developments proposed in Heritage overlay areas. Far more thought and consideration must be given as to how such iconic buildings can be redeveloped or modernised. In this case the developers didn’t even offer the pretence of a façade of the original building.




When developers purchase a property in such areas, they are aware of the constraints such listings present. It requires a far more incisive and intelligent planning phase that looks to provide a built to purpose facility with a significant return on investment over an extended future period.

A built to purpose renovation could provide good returns without resorting to inappropriate and expansive quick return development.

As the article states, this result provides a precedent that should be firmly understood by all Developers in Heritage listed areas. Heritage is valued. Don’t trifle with it. People value their history, their environment and the places they choose to live and work.

Heritage will be, must be preserved. Congratulations to the Albert Park community, we thank you.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Heritage – It’s Worth Preserving and Protecting.

This week the Corkman Saga has gone decidedly quiet. When the Victorian Government announced its compromise deal with the property developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski, there was unquestionably massive outrage. For most people, the very idea that someone can knock down a heritage listed building with total impunity is just outrageous.

There is a groundswell of opinion crystallising right now that the developers should be forced to forfeit the land to the statutory authorities – the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne. The simple fact is they “broke the law” as opposition Spokesman on Planning Tim Smith has stated.


Any proposed forcible acquisition of the land will no doubt be costly given the punitive actions already taken by the current Government and the City of Melbourne. But in terms of establishing precedent, the Government simply cannot acquiesce to these developers. By not upholding heritage values here it opens the door to further rogue actions.

For your interest, here is the most recent article from the Age Newspaper, dated June 1st.

Push for state to forcibly acquire Corkman site from cowboy developers

Planning experts and the state opposition have demanded Planning Minister Richard Wynne compulsorily acquire Carlton’s Corkman pub site from the developers that illegally demolished the hotel.

They say the land could be taken by the state for its value as an undeveloped site, at millions less than the cost of its commercial value as a development prospect.

But Mr Wynne says compulsory acquisition would require the land to be purchased at its highest possible value – meaning it would cost Victorian taxpayers millions.

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Two and a half years after the Corkman was razed, the site is still full of rubble covered with tarpaulins and old tyres.

Mr Wynne and Melbourne City Council this week struck a deal with Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski, developers who knocked down the Corkman Irish Pub.

Under Mr Wynne’s deal, they must build a park on the site by November and can then redevelop part of the site up to 12 storeys.

The razed pub was built in 1858 and covered by heritage rules that restricted its redevelopment.

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The Corkman Irish pub in Carlton, built in 1858, as it was until it was illegally demolished in 2016.

Rather than work through the planning system to pull down the building, Kutlesovski and Shaqiri – who bought the pub in 2015 for $4.76 million – instead turned up one weekend in 2016 and simply bowled it over. The site has since sat fenced off and covered in rubble ever since.

Despite being fined almost $2 million dollars for their illegal actions (they are appealing the severity of these fines), the pair could still turn a profit by re-developing or selling the site.

As a development opportunity, the site was valued at $8-10 million in 2016.

Opposition planning spokesman Tim Smith demanded Mr Wynne take the land off the pair immediately: “They broke the law, they must not profit from doing so.”

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Developer Raman Shaqiri and his partner razed the historic hotel illegally.

Soon after the Corkman was demolished, Mr Wynne told Parliament the government would act to send a message “that you cannot snub your nose at heritage in this state”.

But Mr Smith said the planning minister had failed to keep his word, and must now send “a clear message that destroying heritage buildings will not be a profitable business in Victoria”.

He said while he would not normally advocate for forced acquisition, the flagrant disregard for heritage made it a special case.

Melbourne University geographer and planner Kate Shaw said under section 172 of the Planning and Environment Act the government could compulsorily acquire the land at its current, undeveloped value.

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Stefce Kutlesovski was the other developer involved in unlawfully knocking down the Corkman.

“It would send a very clear message that developers cannot get away with this nonsense, and the minister can legally acquire the site at its current, undeveloped value.”

Dr Shaw, an expert on international planning schemes, said “this kind of behaviour, particularly in northern Europe, simply would not be tolerated”.

A spokeswoman for Mr Wynne said the government’s deal with the developers meant they would rehabilitate the site so it can be used as a park. They could then “only build on with ministerial approval, following consultation,” she said.

Melbourne Law School lecturer Brad Jessup said the government could forcibly acquire the land but because of past threats to punish the developers would likely be forced to pay more.

Rod Duncan is an experienced planner who has advised previous planning ministers. He said the deal Mr Wynne had cut with the Corkman’s owners appeared to be “waving the white flag to rogue developers”.

He said the planning act gave the minister “formidable power” to unilaterally change controls, and could be used to send “clear messages to offenders and reassure the public”.

“Any outcome that rewards, rather than rebukes, the offenders sets a dangerous precedent.”


On another note, several weeks ago we were considering the preservation and restoration of the former ES&A Bank building on Clarendon St South Melbourne (Cnr of Bank Street.)

Principal Architect for Balance Architecture and Interior Design, Andrew Fedorowicz, previously supervised the refurbishment of the Moonee Ponds branch of the same bank we featured in the images supporting the story. It provides a great illustration of just how such a building can be restored to its former glory. In this case, the former bank was converted to an upmarket business premises.

It is worth noting that the heritage decor it timeless and the property has continued to appreciate in value remarkably compared to other real estate available in the same market sector.

Here for your viewing pleasure are images of the project.

Heritage isn’t a peculiar hobby for bored historically inclined people. It’s the genesis of our society, the look, the feel, the fabric of our great city and states – the vistas we look out upon day by day. It’s a reminder of our past yet much of it was designed to last for millennia.

Heritage values and protection – the buildings, the locations, the lavish and not so lavish interiors we need to protect for posterity, for future generations. It is simply non-negotiable.

We commend the National Trust and the Heritage Council of Victoria for their ongoing work in both protecting our valuable heritage and in making much of it available to the public.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.