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 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.
Corkman Pub demolition developers jailed for contempt of court
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 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.
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.”