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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Source: domain.com.au

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Source: theage.com.au

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.

Corkman cowboys get a leave pass! Heritage dishonoured again.

In what appears to be a significant backdown by the Victorian Planning Minister Mr Richard Wynne, his Department and the City of Melbourne, an extraordinary deal has been struck with the Corkman pub’s developers, Mr Ramen Shaqiri and Mr Stefce Kutlesouvski.

The partners will no longer be forced to rebuild the entire hotel to its original condition using the original materials.

Instead they must commence their planned development with a height allowance of 12 storeys prior to 2022.

They must also clear the current site of rubble and detritus by the 30th of November 2019 and create an ‘informal outdoor recreation area’ as an interim solution prior to the commencement of construction – serious?

The proviso is that this ’12 storey development’ must be set back from the street on the parts of the site where the original pub stood. Keep in mind this is a 460sq m site!

Corkman cowboys cut deal with minister and city council on pub site

The developers who unlawfully demolished Carlton’s Corkman Irish Pub in 2016 have reached a deal with the Andrews government to clear the site and temporarily turn it into a park by the end of November.

But the pair stand to profit from knocking down the 158-year-old pub without permission, because under the settlement reached with Planning Minister Richard Wynne and Melbourne City Council, they now have three years to re-develop the site – with a tower up to 12 levels high.

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The Corkman’s remains on Wednesday

Some of the wrecked pub’s remains have sat untouched for almost three years, piled roughly beneath tarpaulins installed under duress by the developers soon after they demolished it without warning on an October weekend.

A hearing before the state planning tribunal was due to start on June 3, with Mr Wynne seeking an order to rebuild the two-level pub, which had stood on the corner of Leicester and Pelham streets in Carlton since 1858.

Before the hearing began though, Mr Wynne and the city council reached an agreement with the developers who knocked it down, Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski.

The agreement means that Shaqiri and Kutlesovski have agreed to clear the site and, by 30 November, build an “informal outdoor recreation” area on it.

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Raman Shaqiri at court in 2018

The pair then have until 2022 to redevelop the site in a form approved by the planning minister.

The planning rules Mr Wynne has set for the site – after he was forced to back down from earlier more aggressive rules on the 460-square-metre piece of land – allow a tower of up to 12 levels to now be built. Under those rules, any new building must be set back from the street on the parts of the site where the now-demolished historic pub once stood.

But the rules would allow a highly profitable development to still be built on the site. Mr Wynne was forced to back down on his earlier, much tougher rules for the site because the planning system cannot be used to punish rogue developers and owners.

If the pair do not begin re-developing the site by mid-2022, they will be forced to rebuild the external parts of a two-level pub “as nearly as practicable to the condition they were immediately before their unlawful demolition”.

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The Corkman Irish pub in Carlton, built in 1858, as it was until its illegal demolition in 2016

Shaqiri and Kutlesovski, who bought the pub for $4.8 million in 2015, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court this year to knocking it down illegally.

They have been fined $1.3 million by the courts, along with an earlier $600,000 penalty via an Environment Protection Authority prosecution for failing to deal with asbestos from their illegal demolition. They are appealing the severity of the latter fine.

The pub’s demolition led the Andrews government to bring in much tougher penalties on developers and builders who illegally demolish buildings without proper planning approvals. But those tougher laws do not apply to the Corkman pair.

Mr Wynne said the government had taken action to ensure the site was “given back to the community” and continued to be a space the public could enjoy.

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Stefce Kutlesovski at court in 2017

“These cowboy developers have already been subject to record fines,” he said. “This order requires them to make good on the site and sets strict controls on any future developments.”

The chair of Melbourne City Council’s heritage portfolio, Rohan Leppert, said the order meant the site would be cleaned up and made available for the public.

“We are looking forward to seeing action on the site and will be watching progress closely,” Cr Leppert said.

Neither Shaqiri nor Kutlesovski could be reached for comment.

Two law students, who were studying at Melbourne University when the demolition occurred, launched the original planning tribunal action against Shaqiri and Kutlesovski. (The university’s law school overlooks the pub site.) On Wednesday, Duncan Wallace and Tim Matthews Staindl said they were disappointed the planning minister and the city council had reached a deal with the men.

Both have since graduated, but had vowed to see through the case because they were so appalled by the way in which the pub, which they drank at regularly, was destroyed.

The pair said the settlement opened the door for Shaqiri and Kutlesovski to profit from having demolished the pub.

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The pub under demolition in October 2016. The works were completed by Shaq Demolitions, a company part-owned by Raman Shaqiri.

“Developers across Victoria will be breathing a sigh of relief with this outcome,” they said, in a written statement.

“A hearing in this case could have served as a useful legal precedent for future heritage cases and sent a message that, in Victoria, cowboy developers cannot profit from their illegal activity.”

They cited a case in London where the courts ordered the full rebuild of a pub demolished in near identical circumstances. “This was an opportunity to follow that example,” the pair said.

The National Trust’s chief executive Simon Ambrose said it was disappointing that the future of the site was still uncertain. “If this is the best we can do under our current laws, we need to change them,” he said.

Source: theage.com.au

It would appear that the compromise is that they reconstruct the façade of the hotel – if they do not commence construction by 2022. There is some doubt as to their ability to do so given an expenditure to date of at least $6.1 million not including legal costs or outgoings. The apartment market is anything but buoyant so there may well be some method behind this apparent madness.

From our position, this is an unsavoury back down. The initial position taken by the City of Melbourne and Planning Minister Mr Richard Wynne was entirely correct. This compromise appears to be purely legal manoeuvring by the developer’s very competent QC Barristers Mr Stuart Morris and Mr Nick Papas and to a large extent, it would appear to be successful on their behalf.

It is not a successful outcome for Victoria’s Heritage and its protection from unscrupulous developers. As the ‘law students’ quoted in the article noted, this is a terrible message to developers.

The result, the punitive measures and the precedent set must be clear and unambiguous – Heritage is precious. It must be preserved at all costs.

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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.

Gothic Splendour to remain in Old South Melbourne

The English, Scottish and Australian Chartered Bank, known as the ES&A during its long lifetime, built some amazing buildings in Melbourne. These Bank buildings were constructed in a Gothic Style of Architecture and were certainly very different to some of the more sombre banks of the time.

 

The most famous of these was the building located at 388 Collins St, now an ANZ banking chamber. Its proper name is the Verden Chambers, but to the public it is affectionately known as the Gothic Bank.

 

The ES&A Bank built many of its branches in the Gothic style ranging from the Rocks in Sydney to Mt Alexander Rd Ascot Vale, where the theme prevailed. And perhaps one of the most notable examples in an otherwise Victorian era visage was the bank constructed on the corner of Bank St and Clarendon St, South Melbourne in 1880. It was and still is a striking edifice with curious round windows and full capped chimneys, a slate roof and pier capped wrought iron on brick fence.

 

Nationally it is probably the second most significant of the ES&A Bank buildings. “Built in 1880 to a design by architectural firm Terry & Oakden. It is an inspiring 2 storey Gothic Revival building of Hawthorn bricks into which are set polychromic brick bands, string courses of both render and encaustic tiles and granite colonettes flanking the doorway. Of local significance” Is it largely intact and when the ANZ added a section at the rear in the 1970s the modifications were supervised by the National Trust to ensure the new extensions remained in sympathy with the overall building. To a great extent it was a successful project and the building retained its integrity.

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More recently the ANZ Bank have vacated the premises, moving further down Clarendon St next door to the Commonwealth (Cnr of Dorcas St).

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The building is currently owned by a property group headed up by M/s Anne Mihelakos. As with other buildings on the Clarendon St strip, eastern side, the group have submitted plans to the Pt Phillip Council for a multi storey development at the rear of the heritage listed building. This involves the small carpark and the 1970s addition (which would be demolished). The new building featured would be for offices.

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In designing the new building, the group’s Architects have looked to profile the bank building rather than hide it, encroach upon it, or envelope it. Design features such as the circular window highlight the existing bank building’s rather unique features.

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With the removal of the ANZ Bank’s detritus and infrastructure, the large original chamber has been exposed. Advertising will soon begin for a new tenant (perhaps a high end furniture, homewares or design oriented showroom?).

Interestingly, the Development group scheduled to construct the new building are a predominantly female team, known as SheBuilt. The group functions with most project lead positions being filled by women.

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“In an industry dominated by men, we’re proud to offer an alternative – a place where women can support one another creating projects of significance.”

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This would appear to be a very different style of project. Currently awaiting approval, it is comforting to see this beautiful building being preserved intact, free standing with little alteration other than restoration of features removed in the 1980s. The project is now in the domain of public opinion. We are taking a neutral position and leaving it to you to make your own decision with regards to the project. We wish SheBuilt the very best and look forward to seeing these beautiful chambers come back to life with its high ceilings, mitred windows and marble edged entrances. And just the hint of a truly feminine touch.

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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 in Hawthorn Saved with Planning Ministerial Intervention

A significant victory has been achieved this week by Heritage supporters in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn. Currajong House, located on Auburn Rd in Hawthorn has been saved from demolition through the timely intervention of the Victorian Planning Minister, Mr Richard Wynne. In an odd set of circumstances Boroondara Council had approved a demolition permit on July 12th 2018.

However this same council had recommended the property for Heritage protection in its Hawthorn East Heritage Gap Study delivered April 12th this year, 2019. The report was designed to provide recommended amendments to the Boroondara Planning scheme (to apply permanent and interim heritage controls in line with the study to the planning scheme). Planning Minister Wynne approved the interim controls on April 12th.

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It is becoming increasingly obvious that Melbourne’s fine heritage of Victorian era buildings is under real and continuing threat. Note that this intervention order from the Planning Minister is interim until the current interim heritage overlay is made permanent. Property owners with valid demolition orders could still demolish the said buildings if a pre-existing demolition permit existed predating the December 2018 Interim Heritage controls. This will now not occur, as the Minister Mr Wynne has intervened.

The Age article dated May 14th ‘Historic Hawthorn house saved from demolition after planning Minister steps in’ goes some way to explaining this rather unusual circumstance and sequence of events.

Historic Hawthorn house saved from demolition after planning minister steps in

Planning Minister Richard Wynne has intervened to save Currajong House in Hawthorn from demolition, accusing the local council of failing to protect the historic property.

More than 5000 people signed a change.org petition to save the 135-year-old home after Boroondara Council consented to its demolition in July last year.

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“There has rightly been community concern about the demolition of this grand home, which we have listened to,” Mr Wynne said.

“We’ve stepped in to protect this historic property where the council has failed to – our heritage is our history and councils should protect it.”

Mr Wynne said the decision ensured Currajong House would not be demolished while Boroondara City Council undertook a further heritage assessment, which would then be reviewed by Heritage Victoria.

The council requested permanent and interim heritage controls for the Longford Estate Precinct, which includes Currajong House, last December.

Until Tuesday’s ministerial intervention, however, the owner of Currajong House at 337 Auburn Rd, Hawthorn, could have proceeded with the demolition because they had pre-existing approval to do so.

Mr Wynne’s decision – gazetted in the Victorian Government Gazette on May 14 – removes this exemption in the case of Currajong House.

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The change.org petition asked for signatories to call on Mr Wynne to avoid the demolition of a stately home, which it said would be “replaced by more box like developments”.

It said the “heritage masterpiece” contained gracious period detail including “soaring ceilings, magnificent open fireplaces and superb return verandah”.

“Melbourne is home to some of Australia’s finest heritage architecture. Too much of this is being lost to developers,” the petition says.

“High-density living has its place and is being catered for in the inner regions already. This block does not need to be part of that.

The petition said limited car parking in this residential area was already an issue and likely to be worse with any development of this site other than as a single dwelling.

The proposal to introduce a permanent heritage overlay is on public exhibition. Submissions can be made until June 3.

Source: theage.com.au

There is no doubt this trend of developers targeting older inner-city properties on larger blocks will continue. Already we have seen the destruction of a number of older heritage period homes in both Kew and Armadale in the last year. It is worth noting that many current Heritage overlays were applied over 20 years ago (or more). This means many buildings of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century are now well over 100 years old, but are not protected. Realistically these properties are now most definitely worthy of Heritage consideration.

The Hawthorn property Currajong House was definitely saved by people effectively petitioning Government to effect change and update the Heritage listings of older properties on the Longford Estate precinct there. The reassessment must extend and become widespread through areas of the same vintage and era surrounding inner Melbourne.

Properties are constantly being listed that could be considered ‘at risk’. In Thursday’s Domain supplement, another Hawthorn property listed has been sold for over $3 million, the same price that Currajong House sold for several years ago. Currajong House however was intact with amenities, a beautiful home.

Zetland, described as an historic home and built in 1873 was in anything but good condition internally. Fortunately the young buyers here intend to restore the home. It however is part of a different ‘estate’ – the St James Park Estate.

Renovations will cost up to $7 million

Without the same interim heritage orders and perhaps with a different purchaser, the property could have easily been demolished.

Historic Hawthorn fixer upper sells for more than $3 million at private auction

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It may be missing ceilings, skirting boards, cornices and other fixtures and fittings, but that didn’t put off the buyers of the historic Zetland mansion at 16 Yarra Street in Hawthorn.

The home, originally built in 1873, sold at a private auction on Tuesday night for an undisclosed amount somewhere between $3.4 million and $3.7 million.

Kay & Burton South Yarra selling agent Geoff Hall said four bidders fought it out for the home at the auction. The successful buyers were a young family who lived close by.

“They live around the corner,” Mr Hall said.

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It was the first time the house had come onto the market in almost 20 years, with the home selling in 2001 for $1.22 million, public records show. The current owners decided to sell before major renovations were undertaken.

The buyers are planning to restore the home, which is listed on the heritage register, to its former glory. Estimates to fix the home have been given at somewhere about $1.5 million.

Zetland, a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home, has been a significant part of the Hawthorn landscape for almost 150 years.

The unique home on a 981-square-metre block was part of the originally larger St James Park Estate. It was designed by architect William J Ellis, who also responsible for the Fitzroy Town Hall.

It features original marble fireplaces, timber floors, stained glass in windows and door frames and even servant bells harking back to the stately manors of the late 1800s.

The home’s facade features a seven-arched, lacework front veranda, making it a significant example of Victorian architecture.

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Before it went onto the market, the property had been styled using its “film noir”-like surrounds and artwork to set the scene.

Despite the historic home’s fixer-upper state, there had been a lot of interest in the lead-up to the auction.

“There was significant interest in it. We had 180 groups of people through before the auction,” Mr Hall said.

“We heard a lot of the same feedback and that was that the bones of the home are terrific but it needs a lot of work.”

Source: domain.com.au

It’s now appropriate to re-examine Heritage Listings and Heritage Overlays throughout inner Melbourne. It is effectively the province of the Victorian State Government’s Planning Department and its Minister to do so. Replacing graceful old homes on large inner suburban blocks with intensive townhouse and apartment developments is entirely inappropriate.

There should be no more 34 Armadale St or ‘Forres’ at 9-11 Edwards St Kew demolitions. Putting it in perspective, unscrupulous developers will purchase a property at $6.7 million, clear the block and offer the property at land value of $17.5 million – as was the case with Forres.

These beautiful buildings represent our history and our heritage. And as 5000 people who signed the Currajong petition agreed – it’s now time to fight for them. Once they’re gone, that’s it. And frankly our heritage is worth just a little more than another street full of crowded rental apartments. Let’s hope Currajong is just the first of many buildings to be saved and preserved for posterity. Melbourne deserves no less.

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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.

Queenscliff – A Heritage Gem – Preserved and Protected.

As winter closes in often we find ourselves taking a day trip to stretch our legs and perhaps draw some inspiration for future lifestyle changes. Take the time to visit one of Victoria’s oldest maritime townships – Queenscliff. For many years Queenscliff was the seaside location where Victorian era folk would ‘take the airs’.

It was serviced by the Queenscliff-Geelong Rail Link, after having travelled from Melbourne no doubt. The line was constructed in 1881 and Queenscliff Station itself was located on the foreshore of Swan Bay. The station is of a unique design having been specifically built to cater for the large numbers of tourists arriving and departing at ‘Peak Holiday’ times.

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The holiday visitors often stayed at the major hotels, such as the Ozone, or alternatively at specially built Guest Houses such as Lathanstowe (where Anglican clergy and their families holidayed). The Ozone Hotel was built is 1881, Lathanstowe in 1882-83, the Queenscliff Hotel in 1887, the Vue Grand Hotel also built in the 1880s, the Royal Hotel also in the 1880s.

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Ozone Hotel

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Lathanstowe

Grand and imposing hotels were built to cater for the needs of both Melbourne’s gentry and high society, as well as wealthy graziers and miners from rural Victoria.

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Royal Hotel

Queenscliff has many older, carefully restored homes as well as these hotels with many being included on the Victorian Heritage Register and enjoying National Trust protection.

Fort Queenscliff, the ‘other’ reason for its existence, was developed from 1806 onwards. Fort Queenscliff was the key component and played the commanding role in the defence of the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. The bay and its entrance was the most heavily defended British Port in the Southern Hemisphere at the time.

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Take the time to visit ‘old’ Queenscliff. For many people it is the opportunity to step back in history and admire the many Italianate Victorian buildings and the infrastructure of the times that to some extent is still intact, very much a living heritage.

Many buildings and property within the precinct are now heavily protected. The Victorian Government introduced the Queenscliff Heritage Advisory Service in 1980. At the same time the Queenscliff Heritage Restoration Fund was established to provide grants and low interest loans to assist property owners in carrying out approved restoration works.

Much of the direction taken in the Borough is the result of the urban conservation study undertaken in 1984. The current planning scheme for the Borough actually incorporates many of the findings of that study. It provides a good blueprint on the exacting standards required to achieve real heritage protection in such an area.

Today, if you as a property owner in the area contact the Advisory Service you can gain real assistance. From the Boroughs website here is a summary of what is offered.

Heritage Advisory Service

The Heritage Advisor is an architect experienced in building conservation with detailed knowledge of buildings in the Borough. Advice is provided to the Council on proposals affecting the heritage precincts and buildings listed in the Queenscliffe Planning Scheme. This may concern precincts, individual buildings, trees or other elements in the streetscape.

The Heritage Advisor is available to consult with building owners, prospective purchasers, builders and designers. The advisor may be able to assist in the following ways:

  • Advising on colour schemes.
  • Locating early photographs of buildings to assist in restoration.
  • Designing building elements such as fences, verandas and suitable extensions and alterations in styles to match particular buildings.
  • Providing names of local suppliers or contractors for specialist building conservation work.
  • Identifying sources of funding for restoration works.
  • Recommending appropriate materials and finishes.

To make an appointment with the Borough’s Heritage Advisor please contact Customer Service on 03 5258 1377.

The Heritage Advisory Service is a partnership between state and local government and is funded jointly by the Borough of Queenscliffe and Heritage Victoria.

Source: queenscliffe.vic.gov.au

When considering Heritage precincts statewide, what an excellent program. If only other areas could adopt such a program.

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Queenscliff – it’s a wonderful destination and a real inspiration to genuine aficionados of Victoria’s most interesting and inspiring heritage – be sure to include it in your travels.

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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.

Europe’s finest Design Expo – The Salone del Mobile Milano

The ‘Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano’ is Europe’s largest and most prestigious design expo. It is world renowned. Held annually as the name suggests in Milan, this is an extraordinary event. The week is now known as the Milan Design Week, with Lighting (Euroluce), Kitchen (EuroCucina) and Bathroom (International Exhibition), all occurring at this time between the 9th and 14th of April. This year was the 58th Edition of the event which was first launched in 1961.

To immerse you in the look and feel of the event we have selected three key exhibitors – two being well known brands Gucci and Versace, the other a rather eclectic artist (based in Mexico) Carlos Amardes.

The Salone del Mobile Milano is a journey of sensual delight – a myriad experience of colour, fabric, light and texture.

This year world renowned Italian brand Gucci opened a pop-up store utilising an existing apartment, renamed the Gucci Decor Store. It will remain in place until June this year. The store has been designed to profile the Gucci brand’s latest offerings in homewares – furniture, porcelain, dinnerware and blankets.

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Gucci’s Creative Director, Allessandro Michele, has filled the entire space with the brand’s signature patterns and prints. Unashamedly maximalist, everything from wallpapers, cushions, screens, chairs, candles, incense trays and metal folding tables – all carry the iconic Gucci brand.

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The Gucci décor collection was developed and released in 2017, a commitment to the craft and artisanship and to profile the skills of Italian creators and designers. Part of this iconic collection comes from the famous Richard Ginori porcelain manufacturer acquired by Gucci in 2013. The company had been formed in 1735. Under Gucci’s stewardship, the range is now flourishing with artistic direction from Gio Ponti.

The store provided an augmented reality ‘app’ where users could use famous locations as well as their own home to try out different pieces, ‘virtually’ placing the items there. The overall installation was certainly an indulgence, but reported to be thoroughly enjoyable.

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At Louis Vuitton their team in collaboration India Mahdavi, Patricia Urquindo and Tokujin Yoshioka presented its ‘objets nomades’ collection. The focus is on the idea of travel whilst considering each designer’s personal style.

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Atelier Biagetti and Zanellato/Bortotto created feature pieces for each design. ‘Anemona’, a glass top dining table and a wavy base, dressed in soft leather was created by Atelier Biagetti whilst Italian duo Zanellato/Bortotto debuted with an amazing ‘mandala’ screen composed of three separate parts drawn together in a sophisticated weave.

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The featured pieces were presented at the neoclassical Palazzo Serbelloni in an exhibition featuring the entire collection with past editions revisited in new colours and materials.

Darkened rooms are refreshed with light spreading in brilliant colours. Tonal effects with subtle changes, the Campano Brothers ‘bomboca’ sofa-puzzle in fluoro yellow; the ‘Cocoon’ suspended chair covered in a red faux fur.

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The Campano Brothers have added a new piece called the ‘Bulbo’ armchair. It mimics a giant tropical bloom that embraces the person seated in billows of yellow fabric.

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Also included in this latest display are ‘dollchairs’, modular in design. As with traditional Louis Vuitton trunks, the ‘chairs’ can be customised and hand painted with individual designs.

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Our last featured contribution on this installation is from Marcel Wanders – Diamond shaped armchairs with arched wooden frames, cagelike, a diamond vase of mouth blown Murano glass suspended by leather strapping and a ‘venezia’, a lamp that is modelled on traditional Venetian lanterns.

The final vision we share is that of the Artist Carlos Arardes of Mexico. What an extraordinary vision he offers. Titled ‘The Accursed Hour’ his installation was located on the Fondazione Adolfo Pini. It features a swarm of 15,000 black butterflies – a breathtaking eerie display. For your pleasure we have added a series of images from his display.

For the very best in professional Architectural design, graced with impeccable interior finishing to compliment the overall effect, call Balance Architecture on 0418 341 443. Alternatively call our Melbourne office on 8696 9700 and leave us a message. Andrew Fedorowicz our principal Architect will be only too pleased to set up a time for a free no obligation consultation at your convenience. Balance Architecture specialise in Heritage properties, ensuring the integrity of the original construct is not lost.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture.