No Development for Sites of Illegal Heritage Demolition for Up To 10 Years.

It would appear that new legislation has been implemented to control the activities of rogue developers such as the Corkman Cowboys. Back in February this year (2021) the Victorian government was to introduce legislation into Parliament that would preclude development on a property for up to a decade if Heritage buildings have been illegally demolished.

A comprehensive analysis of the proposed legislation and the reasoning behind it was published by ABC News February 2nd, 2021. Read about it here:

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.

Key points:

  • New legislation has partly been prompted by the controversial Corkman hotel demolition in 2016
  • The laws would stop future development on a site for 10 years if heritage buildings were illegally demolished
  • ·       The Government hopes the changes will remove any financial incentive for unlawful heritage demolition

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.

It is also high time that the Victorian government policed property owners and developers who practice ‘demolition by neglect’, a rather appalling tactic to gain access to land locked into Heritage Overlays or properties covered only by Council policy at local government level.

Too often these properties are allowed to slide into a situation where they become vandalised, suffer at the hands of arsonists or,through complete lack of maintenance, simply topple over or fall down.

If these properties carried a Heritage Listing from the Heritage Council of Victoria the owners could be ordered by Heritage Victoria restore the buildings, or in extreme cases, Heritage Victoria could make orders to independent contractors to remedy and restore damage. All costs are then born by the property owner.

The National Trust Advocacy Team have recognised the dire nature of this current problem and are currently campaigning to formulate policy and issues at local government level. An extensive report was commissioned and delivered in 2013. Please take the time to read it. Here is the link to the report.

If you truly value Heritage now is the time to be vigilant. For those who value our Heritage Architecture whether it’s Georgian, Victorian or Mid-Century Modern, it really is time to speak up. Contact your local Council, Heritage Victoria or the National Trust and ensure all planning regulations are adhered to and due respect is given to Heritage Listings and Overlays. Value Heritage – once it’s gone it’s gone forever.

Heritage is Precious – Protect it.

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