Heritage Protection in Victoria. How Does It Actually Work?

For many people heritage protection of both buildings, precincts and open space is somewhat confusing. In real terms the cultural basis of our living city Melbourne and regional cities, our rural areas, our history is integrally bound up in our treasured heritage buildings and precincts. For Indigenous people, our First Nation’s people, heritage values are of vital importance in terms of their connection to country, their history, their culture and their beliefs.  

Heritage values are imperative in our understanding of our current circumstances and urban development, and the influence the past has had in formulating those values. Last week one of our readers commented that heritage is not just about the grandeur of older buildings, the mansions and estates, the public buildings such as town halls, the railway stations and other old world edifices, such as mechanics institutes, masonic halls, churches and the like. Her view was that heritage has a much broader impact and foundation and she’s quite correct. For instance, many inner city suburbs – Carlton, Fitzroy, South Melbourne, Albert Park and Clifton Hill –  for example, have complete suburb wide heritage overlays that protect large swathes of early residential housing, streetscapes, parks and public buildings as well as historical places of interest. Today it is the responsibility of the Heritage Council of Victoria, established in 1995, to maintain the Victorian heritage database. It is overseen and advised by Heritage Victoria, a division of the Victorian government planning department, as to what places and objects deserve protection and conservation in having State level heritage. This authority was formalised by the Heritage Act of 2017 in the Victorian State Parliament. The area that is somewhat less clear and not as effectively protected is what is described as “local level heritage”.

From the Heritage Victoria website:

“Local-level heritage – The protection of places of local heritage significance is the responsibility of Victoria’s 79 local councils (councils). The Planning and Environment Act 1987obliges all of Victoria’s councils to use their Planning Schemes to conserve and enhance buildings, areas or other places which are of significance within their municipalities. Planning Schemes set out objectives, policies and controls for the use, development and protection of land within a municipality. Councils are responsible for ensuring their Planning Schemes protect places with local heritage significance through a Heritage Overlay. To introduce a Heritage Overlay for a place or precinct, a Planning Scheme Amendment is prepared by council with the final decision made by the Minister for Planning. There are about 23,000 heritage places listed in Heritage Overlays in local government planning schemes. These places can include buildings, structures, farmhouses, gardens, mining and industrial sites, residential precincts and historic town centres, as well as many other types of heritage places of importance to local communities. Altogether, upwards of 180,000 properties in Victoria are included in heritage overlays. Tens of thousands of these properties include Victorian, Edwardian and other early twentieth century buildings, many in heritage precincts. There are about 23,000 heritage places listed in Heritage Overlays in local government planning schemes. Councils are responsible for conducting heritage studies, investigating the merits of listing places in their Heritage Overlays and consulting with their communities. If a Heritage Overlay does not apply to a place or precinct, and a council considers that it is worthy of protection, it is able to request the Minister for Planning to apply an Interim Heritage Overlay. This introduces a temporary heritage overlay to a place while it is being assessed by council for local heritage significance. A request for an Interim Heritage Overlay may be prompted by a demolition request or planning application for redevelopment received by a council. Councils have a safety-net under the Building Act 1993to prevent demolition of important buildings that have, for whatever reason, not yet been provided with protection until an assessment is made of their potential importance. The Building Act requires a report and consent of council for a building permit for the major demolition of a building on land within its municipality. This provides the council with an opportunity to advise of the need for a planning permit or an opportunity to seek an Interim Heritage Overlay if one is considered warranted.”

Original facade of building above and changes made subsequently below illustrate how the original architectural style can be lost.

To reiterate there are three levels of heritage protection activity in the State of Victoria. The majority of heritage buildings, architecture and places in Victoria fall under the protection of the State’s 79 local councils.  In our opinion the protection offered in many cases is manifestly ineffective and, as such, is open to manipulation by unscrupulous builders and developers.It is plainly evident that some local government authorities value increased income through strata title property rates collection over properly enforced heritage protection; with many heritage overlays being hopelessly outdated and inadequate. For heritage protection to work the requirement for there needs to be a clear understanding of which body is expected to provide and enforce such protection. Where the responsibility is that of local government authorities they have often failed. In recent times there has been a plethora of unnecessary demolitions and outright destruction of heritage buildings and streetscapes. This has simply confirmed the inadequacy of current legislation.  Melbourne has grown and expanded substantially since 1995 and in many cases local government has simply not kept pace with registering precincts or buildings for heritage protection

Balance Architecture offer a full Heritage Consultation service for both Heritage property owners and Community groups with significant interest in local heritage.  Principal Architect Andrew Fedorowicz is available to meet and confer with interested parties, develop site reports and provide expert appraisal on all Heritage properties, precincts or projects affecting Heritage overlays.

Call now on 0418341443 to speak directly with Andrew or leave your details here for a prompt response.

Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the restoration and renovation of Heritage buildings and property,

The Battle Continues. Is it heritage or just a ‘façade’?

East Melbourne is an area covered by both Heritage overlays and individual Heritage listings. It features some of Melbourne’s grandest buildings. Over the years there have been many stoushes to protect what is a unique vista and part of Melbourne’s living history.

The latest property to be put at risk is the ‘landmark’ East Melbourne Mansion, Eblana, the former home of Young and Jackson’s publican Thomas Jackson. It was built in 1883 in the ‘Grand Italianate’ style of the times.

Developers consider if the façade remains then there’s no reason they cannot demolish the rear of a stately home and replace it with a modern tower, in this case four stories high, rising to 15m over the height limit for the precinct.

There’s a simple reason such projects get traction – profit. Four new luxury apartments towering over the original building offer a staggering return on investment. To the property owner or developer the equation is simple – it’s worth pushing the boundaries on Heritage to achieve a compromise. But quite simply there should NEVER be a compromise of any sort.

As the following article rightly identifies, façadism is the new go to ‘soft’ option for developers.

Frankly façadism is an absurdity. The character of the Heritage neighbourhood is simply lost to glass and steel. Natural light is blocked and in all honesty, what is left is often nothing short of comical. Quite simply, it is both inappropriate and a travesty to see some of the rather pathetic examples described as ’sympathetic design’. Market St South Melbourne is a good example. It has several ‘façades’ which are simply the front walls of previous buildings whereby visitors then enter an extensive courtyard gracing the entrance to multi storey glass towered apartment buildings.

The proposal for Eblana is simply the thin edge of the wedge. It cannot be permitted to proceed. Here is the recent article from the Age regarding the planning application, the objections of local residents and the National Trust to the proposed project and ‘façadism’.


Young and Jackson founder’s grand home the latest to get ‘facade’ treatment

Developers have lodged plans for the partial demolition of landmark East Melbourne mansion Eblana, built for Young and Jackson publican Thomas Jackson in 1883, to make way for an apartment tower.

At almost 42 metres, the tower would soar from behind the facade and front two rooms of the grand Italianate-style building at 140-142 Jolimont Road. The new building, home to four luxury apartments, would be almost three times the 15-metre recommended height limit for the precinct.

East Melbourne residents Greg Bisinella (centre). Nicole and Chris Pelchen, Sylvia Black and Diana Bosak outside Eblana.

Human Habitats director Will Pearce said the proposed development sought to protect the grandeur of the existing building’s frontage, while including a sympathetic design at the rear of the property.

But the application has been strongly opposed by local residents, representing the latest flashpoint in a long-running stoush between developers and heritage advocates to balance the preservation of character with new developments in historic precincts.

Eblana, the grand house built for Young and Jackson’s co-founder Thomas Jackson in 1883.

Prompted by a raft of developments in which the facade of buildings are retained in a nod to the original heritage – while the rear of the building is demolished for modern towers – the National Trust of Australia is now drafting guidelines for heritage-sensitive development across Victoria.

The trust’s Victorian director of advocacy, Felicity Watson, said “facadism” was a poor design outcome.

Some of the most egregious examples of the practice in Melbourne include the former Celtic Club Irish pub in Queen Street, the former Turf Club Hotel in North Melbourne, and the former Palace Theatre in Bourke Street, she said.

An artist’s impression of the proposed development at landmark East Melbourne mansion, Eblana.
The former Turf Club Hotel on Flemington Rd, North Melbourne.

“If you only retain the facade, or you only retain the external walls and a very small portion of the building, it removes all of the evidence of the building’s former function, its methods and materials of construction and also its ability to be understood within the streetscape,” Ms Watson said.

The National Trust says the former Celtic Club, on the corner of Queen Street and Lonsdale Street is an example of facadism being a poor design outcome.

Ms Watson said the proposed tower on Jolimont Road, East Melbourne, would dominate neighbouring buildings in its current form.

“East Melbourne is well known to have a very high number of significant 19th century buildings, and a number of very intact streetscapes and generally, we don’t want to see the erosion of that character of East Melbourne.”

By Sunday, 106 objections had been lodged with the City of Melbourne to the proposed development. A spokesman said council’s urban planners would carefully consider the application, and any development would be required to suit the area’s special local character and history.

Mr Pearce, whose company Human Habitats completed a town planning and urban context report for the City of Melbourne, said Eblana was not an “individually significant” building under current heritage guidelines.

“From a heritage response point of view, a superior outcome has been achieved than what the policy actually expects,” he said.

The role of town planning was to balance maintaining existing character and modernising the city, Mr Pearce said.

“There’s been considerable thought and effort put into the facade of the new building, and how that complements the existing heritage building on the site.”

The City of Melbourne introduced heritage policies last year, which have been approved by Planning Minister Richard Wynne, in an attempt to better protect the city’s historic buildings and precincts.

Councillor Rohan Leppert, who leads the heritage council’s portfolio, said the new guidelines – while not binding – made it clear that facadism would no longer be tolerated.

“The days of as-of-right facadism in the City of Melbourne are over,” Cr Leppert said.

“And new developments will take some time to adjust to that new reality. But we value heritage buildings in the round, in their three-dimensional form, and that’s the expectation the market will now need to adjust to.”

Greg Bisinella, who is the heritage and planning convener of the East Melbourne Group, said the proposed 42-metre development behind Eblana’s facade was disrespectful to the area’s heritage and locals were livid.

“It just sticks out like a sore thumb,” he said. “It is completely incongruent to the suburbs of Jolimont and East Melbourne.”

Mr Bisinella said retaining the building’s facade was not enough and that the internal building needed to be preserved.

“You lose the integrity of that building. It’s starting to chip away at one piece of living history, you are losing something that can’t be replaced,” he said.

Source: theage.com.au


For advice, assessment and reportage on Heritage architecture and prospective Heritage listing, please feel free to contact our principal Architect Andrew Fedorowicz on 0418 341 443 or leave your details here for a prompt reply.

Andrew is a Heritage Architect and a fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects with many years’ experience in Heritage Architecture, both public and private buildings.

Balance Architecture is passionate about Heritage Architecture, its preservation and restoration. Each year the base of our heritage ‘capital’ is continually eroded with attempts to bypass Heritage listings and the overall intent of heritage preservation. The time for this to stop is now. It requires a bi-partisan approach and cooperation between all relevant authorities – State Government, Local Government and a properly funded Heritage Council of Victoria.

The ground rules must be spelled out and understood by all – property owners, local government officials and developers alike. Heritage is precious – it’s our responsibility to ensure it’s here for future generations – not just a ‘façade’. It’s really up to each one of us to ensure its proper protection and to maintain the respect it deserves.

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

New Heritage Protection Laws. Ten year ban on developments for illegal demolition sites.

Whilst there has been much attention focused on the atrocious behaviour of the ‘Corkman Cowboys’ and their illegal demolition of Carlton’s 160 year old Corkman Hotel, the State Government has finally acted on preventing any further such travesties by introducing new legislation into Parliament this month.

Balance Architecture is passionate about the protection of Heritage buildings and Architecture in both Melbourne and throughout Victoria (Andrew Fedorowicz, Heritage Architect FAIA, Principal Architect for Balance Architecture is available for consultation on all matters pertaining to Heritage.)

There are two articles to follow. The first discusses the new legislation being passed in Victoria, the second gives an up to date account of what has happened to the Corkman developers, and an indication of what those who transgress Heritage Laws in Victoria can expect in the future.


Victorian Government plans to block property development if owners unlawfully demolish heritage buildings

The Corkman Irish Pub in the inner Melbourne suburb of Carlton was controversially torn down over a weekend in 2016

The Victorian Government will introduce legislation into Parliament today which could stop development on a property for up to a decade if heritage buildings are illegally demolished.

The legislation will cover buildings that have been unlawfully demolished in full or in part and where the owners have been charged with unlawful demolition.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the legislation targeted developers who did the wrong thing.

“These new laws remove the financial incentive to illegally demolish buildings by potentially stopping development of the land for up to 10 years,” he said.

“This means that they can no longer expect to reap windfall gains from just selling or rebuilding on their land.”

New laws partly prompted by Corkman demolition

Mr Wynne said the legislation was, in part, prompted by the unlawful demolition of the 160-year-old Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton in 2016.

The developers who demolished the Melbourne pub were jailed for a month and ordered to pay more than $400,000 in fines and legal costs.

The Corkman Pub, formerly known as the Carlton Inn Hotel, was built in 1858.

Although it was not on the Victorian Heritage Register, it was covered by heritage rules.

The developers are appealing a contempt of court conviction and sentence.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) yesterday amended an enforcement order over the Corkman site to require a park to be built there by April 30.
‘Stringent protection’ for heritage buildings

Mr Wynne said the Corkman demolition was “unprecedented in planning in the state of Victoria” and strong action to protect heritage buildings was needed.

“We must put in place the most stringent protections possible and we are getting that through this legislation,” he said.

“It does not only deal with the Corkman matter but other attempts by people whose motives may not be essentially about ensuring the heritage protection of their buildings.”

He said there had also been issues around so-called “demolition by neglect”, where people were not willing or able to pay the cost of maintaining their heritage buildings.

The bill will also enable existing permits to be revoked and allow for new permits to be issued for specific purposes, such as building a park or reconstruction or repair of the heritage building.

These new provisions are a significant strengthening of the current enforcement regime and are expected to act as a powerful deterrent to the unlawful demolition of buildings of heritage significance.

The minister said the reform complemented measures the Government introduced in 2017, which made it an indictable offence for a builder or person managing building work to knowingly carry out works without a permit or in the contravention of the Building Act, the regulations or their permit.

Source: abc.net.au


Corkman Pub demolition developers jailed for contempt of court

The site remains a mess today, more than four years after the pub’s demolition.

Developers who demolished a historic Melbourne pub have been jailed for a month and ordered to pay more than $400,000 in fines and legal costs.

Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski illegally demolished the Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton in 2016, and were sentenced after being found guilty of contempt of court by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The Melbourne City Council and State Government sought to have the men held in contempt for failing to comply with VCAT orders, which compelled them to clear the site so it could be transformed into a public park.

The men had previously pleaded guilty to breaching building and planning laws when they knocked down the 158-year-old pub.

For that, they were fined more than $1 million and also found themselves subject to legal action brought by the council and the Victorian Government.

At Wednesday’s VCAT hearing, the men were fined $150,000 and ordered to pay $250,000 in legal costs to the State Government and the council.

The Carlton Inn Hotel, on the corner of Pelham and Leicester streets, Carlton, in 1957. It was later known as the Corkman Irish Pub.

The men’s lawyer, Matthew Franke, said his clients were “extremely surprised” by the sentence and would seek leave to lodge an appeal.

“The company and its directors are surprised and disappointed by the Tribunal’s findings, particularly in circumstances where the prosecutors in this case did not seek a term of imprisonment, and stated in written submissions that the imposition of such a sentence would be ‘manifestly excessive’,” he said in a statement.
‘They have trashed Victoria’s heritage’

The State Government had originally wanted the developers to rebuild the Corkman, but that plan hit a snag when an enforcement order to do so was deemed “not legally sound”.

The Corkman Pub, formerly known as the Carlton Inn Hotel, was built in 1858. Although it was not on the Victorian Heritage Register, it was covered by heritage rules.

It was demolished over a weekend in 2016, a week after a fire was lit inside the building.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the developer “deserved this outcome”.

“They have trashed Victoria’s heritage, refused to build a park, and shirked their legal obligations at every step,” he said.

The Corkman Irish Pub, in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Carlton, was knocked down in October 2016.

Opposition planning spokesman Tim Smith also backed the VCAT sentence and called on the State Government to seize control of the property.

“The Andrews Labor Government must compulsorily acquire this site and turn it into social housing, public housing, or a permanent park so these cowboy developers don’t make a cent from their illegal activity,” he said.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the council and Government pursued the developer “in the public interest”.

“Today’s decision vindicates the court’s authority and sends a clear message that we won’t tolerate developers disobeying a court order,” she said.

“We look forward to seeing the site cleaned up and available for the public to enjoy.”

Source: abc.net.au


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

Balance Architecture – For expert advice, planning and delivery on all Residential Heritage Architecture

With current Real Estate clearances at an all-time high in Melbourne and Rural Victoria, many buyers are purchasing property that carries a Heritage listing or is a part of a Heritage Overlay. This can be a complicating factor and definitely requires expert advice and direction. Balance Architecture offer qualified and experienced support to buyers purchasing Residential Heritage listed properties throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria.

As a Residential Heritage Architectural firm, Balance Architecture offers a steady hand and sensible programming of any and all renovations and refurbishments of Heritage homes. Georgian, Victorian, Federation or Mid Century Modern – Balance and its principal Architect, Andrew Fedorowicz, offer practical sound planning as well as bringing real excitement and flair to the recovery of the true Heritage identity of your valuable new property.

Today, it really is the merging of modern living, the space and comfort that is required with many properties often constructed well over a century ago, still retaining much of the older infrastructure and internals.

Balance Architecture will ensure the essential and required heritage features are retained, refurbished or replaced, faithfully adhering to the fittings, materials and building methodologies prescribed by Heritage authorities. At the same time, issues such as electricals, plumbing and painted surfaces will be addressed. What was acceptable 50 to100 years ago is not necessarily so today! Lead paint, antiquated electricals and lighting, creaky old iron pipes and ineffective drainage and sewerage must be replaced with modern functional infrastructure.

Ultimately, it is a combination of livability and maintaining the classic beauty of a gorgeous older building to the levels of appearance and quality as required by Heritage Victoria. It is no simple task and for that reason it’s imperative to seek and avail yourself of expert advice and experience.

Andrew Fedorowicz, Principal Architect for Balance Architecture, is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects. Andrew is a highly experienced Architect with over 30 years in Architectural Design and construction, its administration and ancillary drafting. Clearly Andrew represents the upper echelon of his profession, having won numerous awards and having personally managed and supervised over 320 high level projects.

It may be that you have purchased a Heritage property in regional Victoria – Ballarat, Bendigo, Daylesford, Kyneton, Mt Macedon – or the Dandenong Ranges or Gippsland. Alternatively, you’ve been fortunate enough to purchase in Greater Melbourne– Kew, Hawthorn, South Yarra, Clifton Hill, Ivanhoe, Eaglemont or Heidelberg to name just a few areas where both Heritage listed homes and suburban Heritage overlays exist.

Make the decision now – engage a Heritage Architect, call Balance Architecture now on 0418 341 443 and arrange a free no-obligation consultation. Meet directly with Andrew and start the process of re-developing your home to its real potential and true heritage. Alternatively, simply leave your details here for a prompt reply and scheduled meeting.

Balance Architecture and Interior Design

Luxury, Comfort and Style. Heritage Values, Heritage Design.