Melbourne’s Architectural Integrity and Heritage Buildings – the vision of the City of Melbourne

Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 2.35.01 pmThe City of Melbourne for the main has a vision that looks to protect heritage architecture and buildings. In December, the City approved the new Central Melbourne Design Guide.

Specifically it looks to prevent some of the largesse and profiteering of developers only looking to create rentable space in the sky – at any cost. Investors from Asia and the Middle East combining with local developers built tower after tower in the 1990s, much to the chagrin of opponents. Many stand today with low occupancy.

Melbourne City Councillor Nicholas Reece presented this piece in The Age Newspaper on Dec 5 2019.

Spreadsheets in the sky are putting Melbourne’s liveability at risk

It has been said that the history of a city is written by its architects and urban planners.

Melbourne’s earliest days are still evident in the genius of the Hoddle Grid with its big streets, little streets and laneways. The legacy of the 1850s gold rush that transformed a remote outpost into a city of worldwide fame can still be found in the grand public buildings, beautiful boulevards and picturesque brick terraces with their iron lacework.

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Standards of development in Melbourne’s CBD need to be improved if the city wants to build on its healthy legacy.

Over the past two decades modern Melbourne has gone through another gold rush of sorts, fuelled by record immigration and population growth, a thriving financial and business sector, and an international student boom.

So how is the history of modern Melbourne being written by architects, planners and developers? The good news is that despite the demolition crimes of the 1970s, Melbourne has preserved more of its heritage buildings than other Australian capital cities. An emphasis on good street design, bluestone pavements, quality street furniture, beautiful trees, and some stunning examples of modern architecture have given Melbourne a distinctive contemporary character.

But unfortunately, too much cheap and nasty development has crept in. Too many new towers are nothing more than spreadsheets in the sky, delivering a big profit for developers but leaving the city poorer because of bad design and low-quality materials, particularly at street level. The biggest building boom the central city has ever known has put our world famous liveability and appeal at risk.

The point was driven home to me during a recent visit to Sydney. Our northern neighbour is blessed with a spectacular harbour but it is cursed by poor street layout, a century of bad planning decisions and a hotchpotch of urban street designs. But now after two decades of determined focus by local and state government on lifting architectural and design quality, the dividends are increasingly apparent.

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A legacy of heritage and good structure has served Melbourne well up to now.

More than a hundred buildings have been through the City of Sydney’s design competition process, while many other buildings have benefited from architectural design reviews. Last year the University of NSW surveyed 26 projects that were the result of design competitions. The researchers found 62 per cent went on to win industry awards.

With the wrappers finally coming off the long-delayed George Street tram, central Sydney stands proudly as a showcase of world-leading modern architecture. Meanwhile, Melbourne has produced some brilliant new buildings and has been buoyed by home-grown local architects and a distinctive design culture, without resorting to a line-up of global “starchitects” like Sydney. The new Parliament House Annexe, the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Federation Square and Eureka Tower are all examples of local designers creating amazing buildings that we should acknowledge and celebrate.

But the painful truth is that Melbourne has suffered from far too many poor developments. Featureless glass boxes that could be in any city in the world. Buildings that are low grade and bland when newly complete, and destined to deteriorate into eyesores over time. Tall towers that set out to be seen from afar, but offer nothing to the pedestrians walking the streets of the city. Our planning processes are quicker and involve far less red tape compared to other big cities. This is an advantage we need to preserve. But we also need to acknowledge that we need to lift the general standard.

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The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Parkville stands out as one recent success.

So the City of Melbourne is drawing a line. We are saying that we must do better. The city last week gave the green light to the new Central Melbourne Design Guide and associated planning scheme amendments to encourage design excellence in future developments. The guide is the biggest rewrite of the city’s urban design policies since the 1990s and even includes a pictorial guide to make it easy for everyone to follow.

Some examples of the new mandatory provisions include the requirement that parking in buildings within the Hoddle Grid be underground, while parking in buildings within Southbank must be concealed by offices or apartments. Ugly building services will not be able to occupy more than 40 per cent of the ground floor, and we will require 80 per cent active frontages to streets and laneways in some areas.

We want to create more public spaces for people. This means at least 50 per cent of private plazas should be retained and refurbished to preserve access to these valuable open spaces in the city. We want to see more buildings that give back to the public realm, with well-designed ground floors that have character and contribute to rich street experiences with more fine-grain detail and quality materials.

The city is also establishing a Design Excellence Committee to engage members of professional design institutes, public advocacy organisations, the development industry and community members in championing good design in our city.

We’re also investigating the establishment of a Melbourne Design Review Panel to review development projects of local significance and provide design advice as part of the planning process. The new panel will be made up of independent design industry leaders and experts and will bring a new level of focus on the design of new buildings. This Melbourne Design Review Panel will complement the work of the design review processes run by the Office of the Victorian Government Architect but will significantly expand the number and type of buildings that will be subject to design review.

The City of Melbourne will continue to develop policy to encourage the use of design competitions in the right circumstances. This parallels an increased interest from private developers in the value of competitions to explore a range of design options.

Melbourne remains Australia’s most architecturally interesting and attractive city. But if we want to keep our world-beating liveability and appeal then we must do better. “Average” is no longer good enough when it comes to new design, development and urban amenity in our city.

Councillor Nicholas Reece is the chair of the City of Melbourne’s planning portfolio.

Source: theage.com.au

The Central Melbourne Design Guide offers some genuine hope that at least inner Melbourne is actually preserved and enhanced. Perhaps the Victoria Market could be reviewed in this light?

Til next week.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance 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.

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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.

Touring Melbourne’s Heritage homes – Corkman pair receive massive fine.

The Corkman Pub developers have been fined a further $1.3 million for recklessly demolishing the heritage hotel in Carlton even after being ordered to stop. This set of fines is on top of $600K imposed last year by the EPA.

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Contrary to what various commentators have said here over the last few months, the company cannot sell the site. It has an enforceable order requiring the full restoration of the hotel using the original materials placed on it by the City of Melbourne and backed by the State Government Planning Department. To date the developers have caved in at each milestone, both pleading guilty to the knocking down and demolition of the Hotel. It is expected that their appeal against the ruling will fail.


Heritage Homes are delightful, but it is imperative you engage a skilled heritage architect if you are fortunate enough to purchase such a home. Quite simply, merging building and engineering techniques of the late 19th Century with today’s requirements requires experience, vision and expertise. Andrew Fedorowicz, Principal Architect with Balance Architecture is a fellow of the Architects Institute of Australia. Andrew is more than happy to meet with you to discuss your needs and future projects.

Enjoy our tour courtesy of raeen99 [through the suburbs of Melbourne.

“Hepburn Terrace” – East Melbourne

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Located in East Melbourne’s George Street, “Hepburn Terrace” is a well-preserved, symmetrical group of six rendered brick two storey terraces designed by the architects Austin and Ellis for Robert Hepburn and built in stages between 1855 and 1872. 201 (seen to the left of the photo was the first built in 1855). 203 (seen to the right of the photo) was built in 1867.

Constructed on bluestone foundations, all the houses that make up “Hepburn Terrace” share similar architectural details and matching cast iron two-storey balustrading. The dwellings are wide with three full height windows to the upper floor and entry with two double hung windows to the ground floor. “Hepburn Terrace” presents an intact frontage, with all lacework, cast iron fencing, bluestone plinths and, in some cases, front door handles, in place and quite sound. Numbers 199 -203 present quite a different design to Numbers 205 – 209, reflecting the seventeen year gap in their construction. The former are slightly smaller, and tend to the more austere, unembellished approach of the earlier Victorian era. The fine bluestone piers and cast iron fences are intact the length of the Terrace.

Heronswood Historical House and Gardens – Dromana

 

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Heronswood historic homestead was seriously damaged by fire in January 2014. The then existing Café was destroyed and the house slightly damaged. Full restoration has occurred since.

The first law professor at Melbourne University, William Hearn, employed Edward Latrobe Bateman to design Heronswood house in 1866. The property’s name was probably derived from Hearn’s family motto, the heron seeks the height, or his family crest, on a mount vert, a heron. Or it could be a contraction of ‘Hearn’s wood’.

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The architectural style of the house, which was completed in 1871, is Gothic Revival. It is made from coursed, squared granite blocks quarried at Arthur’s Seat. The windows, doors and corners are dressed with limestone from the southern end of the peninsula. It features many medieval-inspired elements such as the bell-cast roofs covered in Welsh slate, pointed lancet windows, and buttressing on the front porch.

Billilla Historical Mansion – Brighton, Melbourne

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Billilla Historic Mansion, which was the former the home of the Weatherly family, is a beautiful heritage property incorporating a stately formal garden and the magnificent historic house.

Billilla, at 26 Halifax Street, Brighton, is one of Melbourne’s few remaining significant homesteads. The mansion was built by merchant Robert Wright in 1878 on land which had originally been owned by Nicholas Were. The house has a mixture of architectural styles, featuring a Victorian design with Art Nouveau features. With exquisite formal gardens, which retain much of their original 19th Century layout, the property was owned by the Weatherley family (whom named it Billilla) from 1888 to 1972.

Billilla retains many original Victorian elements and a number of outbuildings still stand to the rear of the property including the butler’s quarters, dairy, meat house, stable garden store and coach house.

Billilla was used as a backdrop in the Australian 1980 Channel 10 miniseries adaptation of Sumner Locke Elliott’s “Water Under the Bridge”. It was used at the Sydney harbourside home of Luigi, Honor and Carrie Mazzini.

“Westbourne” a Late Victorian House – Rucker’s Hill, Westgarth

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“Westbourne” is a large late Victorian solid double red brick and stone house built on Rucker’s Hill in the Melbourne suburb of Westgarth in 1889.

Named after Westbourne Grove, the street in which the house was built, “Westbourne” (number 95.) was owned by Mrs. Catherine Oliver, a well known local abbattoir owner. Catherine Oliver purchased the corner site at 95 Westbourne Grove (then in the suburb of Northcote Hill), in 1889 and built the two storey solid brick residence, using red face brickwork and stucco dressings. She lived there until the late 1920s.

Today the house has been sympathetically subdivided into a number of smart luxury townhouses.

Westbourne Grove was created with the subdivision of William Rucker’s estate on Rucker’s Hill. The Union Bank created a number of roads across the former estate including Westbourne Grove, Hawthorn Road, Bastings Street and Mitchell Streets.

The land in Westbourne Grove was further subdivided in 1884 with the creation of the Bellevue Park Estate. Westbourne Grove became a popular address with prosperous local business people including timber merchant Alex Munro who lived at No. 92. – a neighbour to Mrs. Oliver.

Chastelton – Toorak

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“Chastelton” is an immaculately restored two storey Victorian Italianate mansion nestled away in a quiet beech tree lined street in the exclusive Melbourne suburb of Toorak.

Symmetrical in design with large bay windows either side of a colonnade entranceway with a patterned entablature, “Chastelton” has a wonderful tower which provides impressive views of the surrounding suburbs, the Yarra River and the Melbourne city skyline. “Chastelton” sits amid lush grounds of manicured lawns surrounded by European species of plants and many well established trees. The entrance is approached by way of a semi-circular gravel driveway.

“Chastelton” is a boom period mansion and was completed in the late 1880s.

“Park Lodge” a Victorian Mansion – Moonee Ponds

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Built in the 1880s, “Park Lodge” is a very grand asymmetrical Victorian mansion situated in the finest section of the inner northern Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds.

Built of polychromatic bricks, “Park Lodge” has a wonderful verandah and balcony adorned with elegant cast iron lacework. The roof is made of slate tiles with metal capping. The brown and yellow bricks are constructed in a profusion of geometric designs, which even make the wall treatment a great feature. Even the chimney is built of polychromatic bricks. Perhaps its most outstanding features are the distinctive French inspired Second Empire mansard roofed central tower which bears “Park Lodge’s” name in a cartouche over the upper floor windows. This feature makes the property stand out for miles around.

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Sadly, the original grounds of “Park Lodge” have been lost in the years since it was built, no doubt a victim to the Melbourne property bust of the 1890s. The widening of the road onto which it faces has also encroached upon its boundaries as has the widened railway line. Nevertheless, the current owners have made the most of the space they do have, planting a formal Victorian style garden in keeping with the house’s age. It features a range of topiaries and small hedges. The whole garden is enclosed by an ornate wrought iron fence.

Call now on 0418 341 443 for a free, no-obligation site consultation. Or leave your details here

It’s time to enjoy the best of the past with exceptional modern comfort. Balance Architecture – protect your valuable investment.

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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 Listing – Is it always what it seems?

Festival Hall in West Melbourne is a venue familiar to many readers. Music performers from the Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Doobie Bros and many more such acts have performed there over the last 70 years. World Champion Boxer Lionel Rose fought there and had a funeral there in his honour. But – the building is unsightly externally. The owners wish to demolish it and develop the site. What is the real solution?

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Festival Hall still hosts live concerts and events

Heritage Victoria has announced the building’s inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register. Based on this the current owners plans are unlikely to proceed.

It’s an interesting conundrum, one that architecturally may require some lateral thinking. The ‘House of Stoush’ was designed to stage Boxing and Wrestling matches. Without massive volume, the hall is acoustically a nightmare. Perhaps the old auditorium can be improved internally with better soundproofing and modern equipment and just perhaps it can become part of a bigger complex, dedicated to Melbourne’s popular music history and performing arts.

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The proposed development would see two apartment towers built on the site

The other main objection is that another series of soulless apartment towers will be built, adding nothing to the city or its activities and likely to be something less than desirable in ten years time when what is now modern becomes passé.

If ever there was an opportunity for the State Government and City of Melbourne to create a unique precinct, then this may be it. West Melbourne has always been the rump of industrial Melbourne until now. Extractive industries, rail yards and the edge of Yarra Ports have meant that this side of Melbourne (originally an extensive saltwater swamp fed by the Moonee ponds Creek and the Yarra) has remained dreary and industrial.

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The planning application has been under consideration by the City of Melbourne

This is no longer the case. The rail yards are gone, the extractive industries have moved way out west, and the city hub has moved closer.

With some imagination and foresight (not to mention a realistic budget) this iconic location could house a concert hall, recording studios, art gallery and much more. It could become a performance venue on many different levels, with outdoor plazas, clever bars dedicated to Melbourne’s famous Pub music scene of the 70s, 80s and 90s.

A competitive tender situation as was evolved with Federation Square could ensure a truly magnificent result.

For now here are the latest reports from the Age Newspaper. The first confirms the Heritage Victoria listing, the second presents the rather intransigent response from the Wren family (yes, that Wren family – John Wren – Power without Glory), the current owners.

Festival Hall gets heritage listing, could be spared wrecking ball

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West Melbourne’s Festival Hall has been recommended for inclusion on Victoria’s Heritage Register

The springy timber floor at its centre; the old, tiered wooden bleachers to the east and west; the theatre-like balcony to the south; the low stage to the north.

Like points on a compass, many of us can pinpoint moments in our lives, and the music that accompanied them, by these various parts within the brutalist brick structure that is West Melbourne’s Festival Hall.

And, thanks to a decision by Heritage Victoria, we may be able to do so for many decades more.

The state government body will on Friday announce it has recommended Festival Hall be included on the Victorian Heritage Register, meaning its owners’ plan to demolish the much-loved music venue are unlikely to be approved.

Festival Hall’s significance is more cultural than architectural, as the statement attached to Heritage Victoria executive director Steven Avery’s recommendation attests.

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 The venue was built in 1956, in time to host events during the Melbourne Olympic, after a 1912-era stadium on the site burnt down

Mr Avery determined that Festival Hall should be included on the heritage register for its historical and social significance as Victoria’s principal purpose-built boxing and wrestling venue and as one of Victoria’s primary live music venues.

The statement of significance cites the hall’s “importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria’s cultural history” and “strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons”.

And it lists the specific features – the floor, bleachers, stage and balcony – among its charms worth preserving. Even the “volume of the internal space” – it can hold up to 4500 people – was a factor in the decision.

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John and Chris Wren, grandsons of bookmaker John Wren who built the current Festival Hall venue, are directors of the company that owns venue

The venue hosted boxing and gymnastics at the 1956 Olympic Games as well as bouts featuring revered Australian boxers including Johnny Famechon and Lionel Rose, whose funeral was held there in 2011.

For many years Melbourne’s only large concert hall, it bore witness to Judy Garland and the Beatles in the 1960s, Frank Sinatra and Joe Cocker in the 1970s, and Radiohead, Kanye West and Patti Smith more recently, the latter performing with hometown hero Courtney Barnett last year.

Music identity Molly Meldrum said Festival Hall held a unique place in Victoria’s live music history.

“There’s been so much of Melbourne’s music history in there, back to the days of Johnny O’Keeffe and then Skyhooks, Sherbet, Daddy Cool and of course the Beatles,” he said.

Meldrum – who said he was thrown out of the Beatles concert by bouncers who couldn’t handle the sight of a bloke screaming his love for John and Paul – called on the venue’s owners to turn its interior into a museum and live music venue.

“Let the people enjoy it,” he said.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said he welcomed Heritage Victoria’s decision to accept a nomination to heritage-list Festival Hall.

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Interiors such as the timber floors and wooden bleachers, where Chris and John Wren are pictured standing, are deemed to be of cultural significance

“Inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register will mean that any development of the site will have to protect and preserve [it’s] character and the history,” Mr Wynne said.

An anonymous application to heritage-list the venue was made in January, days after The Age revealed the owners had applied to knock down all but its facade.

The Heritage Council of Victoria will make the final decision.

The venue’s owner, Stadiums Limited, has indicated it plans to sell the site, and has lodged a planning application to demolish most of the hall and build two 16-storey buildings on the site.

Chris Wren, a director of the business, could not be contacted for comment before deadline.

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Where’s Molly? Beatles fans scream as the Liverpudlians played Festival Hall in 1964

Festival Hall has risen like a phoenix before. The original structure, built in 1912, was known as the West Melbourne Stadium. It was taken over by John Wren, a well-known bookmaker, in 1915.

The building burnt down in 1955 but by 1956 Wren had built a new Festival Hall on the site in time for the Olympics.

Courtney Barnett’s September 1 gig is the latest listed on the Festival Hall website.

Good thing her show – perhaps capped off with Depreston, her ode to Melbourne’s overheated property market – is unlikely to be its last.

Source: theage.com.au

Festival Hall owners not done with demolition despite heritage listing

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Festival Hall was built in 1955, in time to host events during the Melbourne Olympics, after a 1912-era stadium on the site burnt down

The owners of Melbourne’s Festival Hall are pushing ahead with their plan to demolish the historic music venue and build apartment towers on the site, despite it being recommended for heritage protection.

Melbourne QC Chris Wren, representing venue owners Stadiums Limited, said the heritage referral came as no surprise, and the planning approvals process had a long way to go.

“We expected that this might happen and we will now follow due process while the matter is being considered by the Heritage Council,” Mr Wren said on Friday.

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The development proposal would see all but the facade of the West Melbourne venue demolished

Stadiums Limited plans to sell the site and has lodged an application with the City of Melbourne to demolish all but the facade of the hall and build two 16-storey apartment towers.

The hall was built in 1955 by Mr Wren’s grandfather, well-known bookmaker John Wren, after a 1912-era stadium that he had owned since 1915 burnt down. It has hosted musical acts including the Beatles, Olympic boxing and gymnastics, televised wrestling bouts, trade union rallies and even a state funeral for world boxing champion Lionel Rose.

Heritage Victoria executive director Steven Avery has recommended Festival Hall be included on the Victorian Heritage Register, meaning that any development would need approval from the Heritage Council before it could be considered by the City of Melbourne.

Mr Avery noted the building’s significance was more cultural than architectural and highlighted interior features including its timber floor and tiered wooden bleachers among elements that warrant protection.

The application will be open for public consultation for 60 days before the Heritage Council makes its decision. The Heritage Council is independent of government. Heritage Victoria is a state government body that advises the Heritage Council.

Listing of the building on the heritage register would not necessarily stop the development from going ahead, Mr Wren told ABC Radio.

He said the development proposal already incorporated elements of the building’s heritage and the original plans would be revised on the advice of Victoria’s government architect.

“They’ve had a look at it and have made some suggestions, and we’re about to incorporate those suggestions into a revised plan. They otherwise thought it wasn’t such a bad proposal, subject to some things that needed to be touched up.

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Chris Wren announced the development plans in January

“We’ve gone and spoken to people we regard as having expertise in this area and got their recommendations and sought to incorporate that because we recognise that the building for some people has great memories.

“We can make submissions about whether it’s got heritage significance – the extent of [it], what should or shouldn’t be retained, and what may be capable of being removed – but still maintaining some of the significance so that people’s memories … can be retained, at the same time recognising that you’ve got to move on.”

Planning Minister Richard Wynne could intervene on any development.

But Mr Wren said he thought Mr Wynne’s comments in support of Festival Hall’s heritage listing could disqualify him on the grounds of bias.

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A state funeral was held at Festival Hall for world boxing champion Lionel Rose in 2011

Mr Wynne has acknowledged the proposal could still go ahead regardless of heritage protection.

“Heritage Victoria will advertise the application for 60 days and ultimately the Heritage Council which is independent of government will make a final decision,” Mr Wynne told 3AW.

“Clearly I would have the capacity to intervene as Minister for Planning but I think (heritage protection) would be widely supported … it doesn’t mean that all of Festival Hall would be retained, but any application has to respect the cultural and social significance of the site.”

Source: theage.com.au

From the outside this looks to be likely to be an interesting battle. Let’s hope the current State Government steps up to the plate and develops a realistic program to ensure the retention of this most iconic Melbourne location. Without Festival Hall through the mid twentieth century to the early twenty-first century Melbourne would be a very different place. As Bon Scott and AC/DC once belted out from its low level stage ‘Let there be rock, Sound Light and Music’ – and this our very own Festival Hall will always be the place.

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The Illegal Destruction of One of Carlton’s Oldest Buildings – The Corkman Hotel (formerly the Carlton Inn), circa 1856

The Corkman Irish Pub was demolished illegally without planning or heritage approval on the weekend of the 15th and 16th of October, 2016. Formerly known as the ‘Carlton Inn’ it was, prior to demolition, one of the oldest buildings in Carlton, having been built in 1856. Originally a quarter acre allotment on the corner of Leicester and Pelham Streets, a Mr R Hepburn purchased it in 1853 and then subsequently subdivided the crown allotment into smaller 70ft x 70ft allotments. Construction of the hotel commenced in 1856 with the hotel trading in 1857 licensed to a Mr George Edmonds.

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The Carlton Inn Hotel, 1957

The City of Melbourne Heritage Overlay described the building as follows –

Historically significant as one of the earliest extant buildings in this part of Carlton, which has undergone substantial change since the time of its original construction in 1857. The Carlton Inn is of historical significance as a good example of the Victorian Period. The facade is relatively plain and generally indicative of the early to mid Victorian period, though the parapet may date to the later Victorian period. The facade has a stucco finish but the original corner section may be partly stone.

Property Developers Stefce Kutlesovski, Raman Shaqiri and their company 160 Leicester Pty Ltd face 16 charges laid by the Victorian Building Authority and the Melbourne City Council.

Council has accused the parties of demolishing a building without a permit, ignoring a stop work order, and carry out demolition whilst unregistered and in breach of planning laws.

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Penalties for the offences range from $3000 to $388,000, with Planning Minister Richard Wynne stating the developers could face fines of more than $1 million in total, at the time of the demolition.

Builders rubble containing Asbestos from the site was found dumped in the open by the EPA at Cairnlea in Melbourne’s western suburbs, uncovered and unprotected. The EPA fined the developers $7500. As of January 2017, the EPA has issued a total of $31,000 in fines for non-compliance against the Developers. At the time the developer owners informed the Victorian Government they would rebuild the pub. That was then.

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The building was destroyed by Shaq Demolitions and Excavations. The business is half owned by Raman Shaqiri. In essence the company that paid $4.76 million for the pub in August 2014 half owned the demolition company.

Raman Shaqiri holds both a valid demolition license and a current building license, issued by the Victorian Building Authority. One could possibly deduce that Mr Shaquiri essentially thumbed his nose at the authority and its regulations.

The Union Movement through the Trades Hall Council and the CMFEU have imposed Green Bans on the site of the demolished building, the first such bans in over a decade.

The Developers have ‘dug in’ hiring top ‘Silk’ Stuart Morris QC, a top planning barrister, to represent them.

Corkman

Initially the Developers had sent a letter to Planning Minister Richard Wynne conceding their fault, saying they had ‘breached faith with the community and made very serious errors of judgement’. They undertook to immediately restore the building at their expense. But they didn’t.

In June 2017 the Developers commenced action in the Supreme Court, suing the Planning Minister Richard Wynne, in a further bid to build a high rise construction on the site. Success would see the land purchased for $4.76 Million in 2014 ($1.56 Million above its reserve) revalued at $10 Million; Not hard to see the driving force here.

Mr Wynne will appear and defend the Supreme Court action. In his statements Mr Wynne has reiterated the Government’s requirement for a rebuild and compliance with the requirements of the Victorian Building Authority, the City of Melbourne and the Environmental Protection Authority. The order stipulates that as much of the original materials as is possible should be used in the rebuild.

For their part Mr Shaqiri and Mr Kutlesovski now seek the overturning of Planning Minister Wynne’s rulings – based on the fact the demolition ‘received extensive media coverage’. They argue Mr Wynne acted with ‘ulterior purpose’ of seeking to punish them – the implication being he did so for political purposes and gain.

Further they say Mr Wynne ‘failed to give them adequate opportunity to be heard’ or ‘to observe the rules of natural justice’.

If successful, the pair can expect the 40m height limit to be restored to the site, allowing for a 13 storey building on the site. Interestingly, preliminary drawings by CHT Architects have emerged of a 12 storey building the developers were planning for the Corkman site.

The Age, July 20th 2017

In VCAT a separate case brought by the Planning Minister Mr Wynne seeks an order forcing the pair to rebuild. Again they are resisting even after previously promising to rebuild.

“The orders sought are vague, imprecise and incapable of being complied with”

Such an order would be ‘oppressive’ their lawyer said.

And so on, the lawyers seek damages, costs and so forth.

The Corkman Pub, formerly the Carlton Inn, survived 159 years. It was a favoured ‘watering hole’ for generations of Melbourne University students. Owned continuously for over a century by one family, the Nobles, as in any working pub it saw changes over the years. In 1939 Architects Thomas Watts and Sons designed a new rear addition including kitchen, and provided alterations to the front bar. A two storey section was built on the eastern boundary in 1936. J.A. Trencher was the architect, with the new addition again seeing the kitchen moved and additional bed rooms added. Further alterations in 1954 by Architect Harry D Little saw the addition of single storey sections for laundry, toilets, a garage and fuel store, all replacing former outbuildings.

It’s obvious that the works were carried out with care, skill and expertise.

The recent works carried out by Shaq Demolitions utilised a Komatsu excavator, large tippers and sledge hammers, was perhaps less subtle.

It is the view of Balance Architecture that the ‘Developers’ should be hit with the full force of the law and be fined at the level that simply makes the projected plan uneconomical and unfundable. Never again should such appalling corporate behaviour be tolerated in the building industry.

And, brick by brick, bluestone block by bluestone block, vintage doors, vintage windows, floorboard by floorboard, Mr Raman Shaqiri and his partner Mr Stefce Kutlesovski must be forced to rebuild, restore and pay all costs on rebuilding the Corkman Hotel to its original state pre-demolition.

Melbourne’s heritage is precious, its time to make a stand.

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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.