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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New laws partly prompted by Corkman demolition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: abc.net.au


Corkman Pub demolition developers jailed for contempt of court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: abc.net.au


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

Legal Process halves Corkman Cowboys Fines on appeal.

The developers who demolished the Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton have now had their Magistrates Court fines for both the demolition (brought by the City of Melbourne and State Government in Melbourne Magistrates Court), and the dumping of asbestos in a paddock in Cairnlea (brought by the EPA in Sunshine Magistrates Court) halved.

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Let’s not gloss over the gravity of these actions. First, the demolition of one of Carlton’s oldest remaining heritage listed buildings under the noses of Council inspectors demanding the process cease, then the dumping of dangerous waste in a highly populated suburban neighbourhood, are both heinous transgressions of our accepted laws.

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The historic pub, in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Carlton, was knocked down in October 2016

 

The Corkman developers were represented by a very well known SC (Barrister) who is a leading legal advisor to many developers. The County Court Judge can only be guided by the letter of the law, not emotion. As such considering all factors, he has halved the fine.

This case demonstrates dramatically it is now time for a complete restructuring and for newer more appropriate regulations to be enacted and scheduled to protect Heritage buildings and overlays.

It is also time for Government to intervene in this case. It is high time that an appropriate precedent was set to ensure such vandalism never happens again without major punitive consequences. It would be appropriate in this case for the Government to enforce a compulsory acquisition of the property, preferably at Market Value pre demolition, deducting all fines and costs from the sale price. Alternatively, purchase the vacant land at land value as of the time of demolition, deduct all fines and costs from the sale price then build a memorial park to remind all that such travesties will not ever be tolerated again.

The next move on the part of Minister Wynne and the Planning Department will be immensely important. The Corkman Developers are significantly ‘cashed up’ and demonstrate a propensity to utilise legal subterfuge to slow down and subvert any punitive actions. If the Government can make amendments to its planning schedule and strategy to suit locations such as Booroondara, what’s to stop them putting a similar amendment through on this issue? – The ‘Corkman Amendment’.

Whatever happens, it’s imperative that these Developers are significantly financially disadvantaged by any sanctions applied by Government. It is ‘the’ test case as to the credibility of Richard Wynne as a Minister and the ability of his planning Department to control rampant uncontrolled development that is entirely at the expense of our Heritage.

Here is the article from Friday’s Age…

Fines cut in half for developers who demolished Corkman pub

The developers who illegally knocked down Carlton’s Corkman hotel have had their penalties for the demolition cut in half by the County Court from almost $2 million to $1.1 million.

The state opposition has demanded the Andrews government compulsorily acquire the site and also appeal Friday’s decision. Planning spokesman Tim Smith said the decision let “these cowboy developers get away with the heist of the century”.

Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski in October 2016 bowled over the historic Corkman Irish Pub without planning or building permission.

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Developer Raman Shaqiri whose Shaq Demolitions razed the historic hotel

The pair bought the pub for $4.7 million in 2015. Savills state director Clinton Baxter said the empty site was now worth between $8 million and $10 million.

Having knocked down 80 per cent of the 159-year-old pub on a Saturday in October 2016, they were ordered to cease demolition that night by Melbourne City Council. They ignored the orders and finished off demolition works on Sunday.

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Stefce Kutlesovski, one of two developers who had his fine for demolishing the Corkman Hotel cut in half.

“The community was outraged by the audacious manner in which the hotel was demolished,” Judge Trevor Wraight said in his ruling on Friday morning.

“They made a commercial calculation,” Judge Wraight said, which would allow them to build a 12-storey tower on the site once the historic pub was gone.

“They weighed up the potential penalties … with the potential profit that would result from development of the site, before going ahead,” he said.

“Indeed, despite the litigation, delay, and any loss of reputation, ultimately, the development will go ahead.”

He found the men had displayed no remorse for the loss of heritage on Carlton.

The pair were appealing fines levelled against them by the magistrates in Sunshine and Melbourne courts; they said the amounts they had been fined were too severe.

Judge Wraight agreed that the fines against the men by the Sunshine Magistrates Court, over charges brought by the Environment Protection Authority on asbestos dumping, had been “excessive”. So too were fines levelled against the men over charges brought against them by the Victorian Building Authority and Melbourne City Council on the illegal demolition.

He reduced the financial penalties from just under $2 million to $1.1 million.

The Environment Protection Authority, the Victorian Building Authority and Melbourne City Council – which had separately brought prosecutions against the two developers and their company – all said they were extremely disappointed by the decision.

Opposition planning spokesman Tim Smith called on the Andrews government to “appeal this decision which sends entirely the wrong message to the industry”.

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The rubble of the Corkman Irish Pub the day after it was illegally demolished.

He said Planning Minister Richard Wynne must also respond to calls from the Opposition and Melbourne University urban geographer Dr Kate Shaw to compulsorily acquire the Corkman site.

Mr Smith said this would mean “these cowboys do not profit from their unlawful behaviour”.

Mr Wynne has previously said compulsory acquisition would require the government to buy the site “at the market rate for its highest and best use” – which would see “taxpayer’s money to pay top dollar directly to these developers, which is hardly a just outcome”.

Both Dr Shaw and Mr Smith question whether this is in fact true.

Two weeks after the Corkman was demolished, Mr Wynne launched legal proceedings to force Shaqiri and Kutlesovski to “replicate the site immediately prior to demolition” if they wanted to redevelop.

“Any application for a permit for buildings and works on the site will require the restoration and reconstruction of the [pub] in its entirety in the form it was in prior to demolition,” he said.

But in May this year, Mr Wynne backed down and allowed the site to be developed with a tower on it up to 12 levels high, in return for the remaining wreckage there being cleared and turned temporarily into a park.

On Friday, Mr Wynne labelled Shaqiri and Kutlesovski “cowboy developers” and said the demolition had been “unforgivable and the community has a right to be outraged by it”.

He said the government would review the court decision and look “at what options are available to government”.

He said the government would not compulsorily acquire the site because it “would mean using taxpayer’s money to pay top dollar directly to the developers, which is hardly a just outcome”.

In 2017 in direct response to the Corkman demolition, Mr Wynne brought in tough new laws ramping up penalties for anyone who demolishes a heritage property.

Shaqiri, 37, was not in court on Friday; he did not attend last month’s court hearing because he was in Spain getting married. Kutlesovski, 43, declined to comment after the court case finished.

Source: theage.com.au

From the ABC…

During sentencing, Judge Wraight acknowledged the public anger the demolition had caused, but said it was up to Parliament to increase the penalties available.

“The community was outraged at the audacious manner in which the hotel was demolished by the owners without any consultation with the community,” Judge Wraight told the court.

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Raman Shaqiri (pictured) and Stefce Kutlesovski organised to have the pub hastily demolished on a weekend.

“It may be that the community — and possibly the sentencing magistrates in this instance — regard the available maximum penalties in relation to this conduct as inadequate.

“However, unless and until Parliament increases the penalties available, courts are bound by the prescribed penalty and must sentence in accordance with the proper sentencing principle.”
Developers made ‘commercial calculation’

Judge Wraight said he found there was little evidence of genuine remorse on behalf of Mr Shaqiri and Mr Kutlesovski.

“It was their decision alone to demolish the hotel,” Judge Wraight said.

“They made a commercial calculation and weighed up the potential penalties that they would face as a result of the deliberate breach of the law, with the potential profit that would result from development of the site, before going ahead.

“They clearly made that decision with forethought and planning as they needed to organise large machinery and employees to hastily bring down the hotel over the weekend.”

The chief executive of the Victorian Building Authority, Sue Eddy, said the authority was extremely disappointed in the outcome and the decision did not lessen the developers’ guilt.

“[The developers] did not have a building permit, had not applied for a building permit, and took it upon themselves to carry out dangerous demolition work without any regard to the state and local laws,” she said.

“With the building industry currently under intense scrutiny, it is vitally important to send a clear signal to all builders and developers that the VBA — and the community — will not tolerate illegal building work of any kind.”

“The VBA is concerned that today’s outcome promotes non-compliance as an optional cost of doing business for those who flout the rules.”

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The pub was known as the Carlton Inn Hotel in 1957

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) fined the developers $7,500 in 2016, after it discovered some of the rubble had been found at a construction site at Cairnlea, in Melbourne’s north-west.

The developers were told they could not remove the debris because it contained asbestos and were ordered to cover it.

The chief executive of the EPA, Cathy Wilkinson, said she was disappointed with the reduced penalty.

“We believed this was a clear-cut case that showed blatant disregard for the environment and the community and deserved a substantial penalty,” she said in a statement.

“As the Judge found, this was a case where experienced developers knew better and showed little remorse for their actions and the community are right to feel aggrieved.”

Source: abc.net.au

Planning Minister Richard Wynne has said the Andrews Government would be reviewing the court decision and would consider changes to the law.

“Let’s make no mistake here, what these cowboy developers did is unforgivable and the community is outraged by it. If the current legislation does not meet community expectations we will strengthen it.”

Amen to that. Don’t leave it too long!

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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.

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.

The City of Melbourne Acts to Protect Heritage

The City of Melbourne Planning Department has seen two recent results that provide some measure of support for Heritage Values in the CBD and near city environs.

In Carlton, the Corkman Pub demolishers have pleaded guilty to illegally demolishing the 159 year old pub and will likely face fines of $388,000 each as well as their company also being fined some amount.

In another move, the City of Melbourne has successfully applied to deny Singapore Developer Michael Kum’s plans to turn the historic Equity Chambers located at 472-478 Bourke St into another CBD hotel.

First the Corkman Saga.

From the Age 29.01.2019

Corkman cowboys plead guilty to illegally knocking down Carlton pub

The developers who knocked over Carlton’s Corkman Irish Pub in 2016 without planning or building permission have pleaded guilty to its illegal destruction.

Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

They and their company 160 Leicester each face fines of $388,000 for their demolition of the pub that was built in 1857.

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The Corkman pub in 2015

The pair admitted on Tuesday to having knocked down without permission the 159-year-old building, which was not heritage listed but that sat within a protected historic area.

Instead of applying to Melbourne City Council to raze the pub, the pair – led by Shaqiri, a licensed demolisher – instead simply bowled it over one Saturday in October 2016.

The court heard the pair were ordered to stop by Melbourne City Council’s building inspector late that Saturday afternoon, after about 80 per cent of the demolition was complete.

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The demolished remains of the Corkman pub

Despite this, they returned the next day to finish off the illegal works.

Soon after the pub was knocked down, Planning Minister Richard Wynne brought in new laws making jail time possible for people found guilty of illegal building works in Victoria.

Corkman Irish Pub opposite Melbourne University’s law building has been demolished after being sold to a local developer for $1.56 million above its reserve in 2014. (Video courtesy: Francisco Ossa)

Those laws do not affect the Corkman pair, who are only liable for financial penalties.

The penalties, to be handed down next month, follow almost $600,000 in fines they were ordered to pay last year after the Environment Protection Authority prosecuted them for the illegal dumping of asbestos and for failing to secure the site next to the University of Melbourne’s law school.

The pair later indicated they would appeal those fines.

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Raman Shaqiri leaves the Magistrates Court in 2018

Raman Shaqiri leaves the Magistrates Court in 2018.Credit:Joe Armao
While the Carlton site has lain dormant since the late 2016 demolition, another site developed by a company the pair own, at the corner of Brunswick Road and Lygon Street in East Brunswick, has seen a nine-level apartment building completed.

Barrister Nicholas Papas, QC, appearing for Mr Kutlesovski on Tuesday, agreed that his client had failed to get “appropriate permits” before knocking down the pub.

The two developers bought the pub for $4.8 million in 2015.

After the 2016 demolition, Melbourne City Council joined with the planning minister to seek an order compelling the pair to rebuild a version of the pub using whatever materials could be salvaged from its wreckage.

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Developer Stefce Kutlesovski leaves the magistrates court in 2018

Legal wrangling has seen a hearing over that order delayed, but it will now be heard by the state planning tribunal in June.

A fire was deliberately lit in the Carlton pub, once called the Carlton Inn, a week before it was illegally demolished.

After a public outcry over the demolition, both Kutlesovski and Shaqiri initially promised to rebuild the pub immediately.

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Soon after they reversed this position, and ever since have made no commitments to do anything on the site, and have used the courts to delay actions against them.

Sentencing of the men has been adjourned until February 20.

Source: theage.com.au

To date the developers are facing fines in the vicinity of $1.6M. As well they have been ordered to rebuild the hotel using the original materials, incorporating all the original features and details where possible.

In the second issue, the developer seemingly had ‘slipped under the radar’ with his company’s purchase of the Equity Chambers located at 472-478 Bourke St in June 2017. Upon applying to re-model it and incorporate it into plans for a multi-storey hotel, the council decided not to permit the planned development.

Again from the Age, 30.01.2019.

Bourke Street hotel hits planning hurdle

Singapore tycoon Michael Kum’s plans to expand his hotel holdings in Melbourne hit a planning hurdle earlier this year after authorities rejected his bid to amend a permit to build a hotel in the historic Equity Chambers in Bourke Street.

Mr Kum’s M&L Hospitality paid $30 million for the inter-war Equity Chambers office at 472-478 Bourke Street in June 2017, a purchase which at the time slipped under the radar.

The heritage-listed, Romanesque style, six-storey building has an elaborate portico, foyer, coffered ceilings and rooftop terrace.

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An amendment to the original planning permit changed its use into a hotel and office plus 151 apartments.

It was built in 1931 on the site of Melbourne’s first synagogue.

M&L Hospitality purchased the property with an existing planning permit allowing for the partial demolition and development of a residential extension, taking the building to 17 levels with 215 apartments.

An amendment to the original planning permit approved in May 2018 changed its use into a hotel and office plus 151 apartments, but also included – significantly – some stringent setbacks.

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The new setback controls require Mr Kum’s company to alter its plans and remove three hotel rooms from level 5 and an outdoor terrace on level 6.

The Singapore-based real estate billionaire, whose wealth was originally acquired in shipping, objected to the change and made a bid in Victoria’s planning tribunal to delete the new conditions requiring the setbacks.

Melbourne Council maintains the setbacks were needed for the hotel plans to comply with mandatory requirements in its planning scheme.

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Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal member Philip Martin ruled in favour of the council but said the case involved a “very complicated and challenging area of the CBD planning controls”.

“Hence it is clear to me that there is no ‘black and white’ answer to this dispute,” Mr Martin said.

M&L Hospitality said it would abide by the ruling and not appeal the decision. Further planning was underway and the company would push on with building the hotel, it said.

Industry data from STR shows Melbourne’s hotel room supply rose 2.5 per cent over the year to last August with a corresponding 1.8 per cent rise in demand.

Revenue per available room – the industry metric for judging performance – rose 1.3 per cent to $151.18 over the same period. Since then the city has hosted the Australian Open tennis tournament, which usually fills hotel rooms to bursting.

M&L’s website lists a portfolio of 18 upmarket hotels in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Europe largely managed by Hilton, as well as Australia’s biggest hotel, the recently enlarged Hyatt Regency at Darling Harbour in Sydney.

Its Melbourne property at 270 Flinders Street operates under the DoubleTree by Hilton brand.

Source: theage.com.au

Balance Architecture is also now privately reviewing the building located at 1 Victoria Ave Albert Park. Current plans for the building and site see its imminent demolition and the construction of a four storey glass structure. The ‘Don’t Destroy Albert Park’ group believe the proposed building is significantly out of character in this existing heritage precinct, as does Port Phillip council. The Developer has appealed the matter to VCAT and a hearing is scheduled for March 18th in an attempt to overturn Council’s decision.

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1 Victoria Ave Albert Park

You can find more detail here https://www.dontdestroyalbertpark.com.au/ and if possible you could add your support to their campaign.

Victoria Avenue is an iconic heritage shopping strip with many old and beautiful buildings as is nearby Bridport St with the famous Biltmore hotel.

Developers have gradually crept up the Clarendon St Hill and have now began to purchase on and within the Emerald Hill and Albert Park estates.

St Vincent’s Place remains sacrosanct but on its edges there are some very unsightly developments. Major multi-storey developments have now extended to Dorcas St with spot developments such as the 1 Victoria Ave proposal providing an entree of what is likely to come.

Next week we will provide a detailed report on the project and similar such activity in this heritage overlay area.

Balance Architecture and Interior Design wish all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

At Balance, we are in the middle of a very busy phase. Apart from the main public holidays of Christmas (25th of Dec), Boxing Day (26th of Dec) and New Years Day (1st of January), we are contactable via email or via phone per our normal contact details.

By way of a Christmas gift, we revisit the current status of the Corkman Hotel fiasco in Carlton. The magistrate presiding indicated he would have jailed the developers Mr Raman Shaquiri and Stefce Kutlesovski if he had the power to do so.

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Final moments of the Corkman Hotel

Take the time to read this full report of their September Court appearance courtesy of the ABC.

Developers accused of demolishing Corkman Irish Pub sentenced for dumping asbestos

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Asbestos riddled debris from the Corkman Irish Pub was dumped in a vacant lot in Cairnlea

A magistrate says he would have jailed two Melbourne developers if he had the power to, after they pleaded guilty to dumping asbestos from an illegally demolished historic pub near homes and a childcare centre.

Developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski were each fined $120,000 for failing to securely contain asbestos-riddled debris at the site of the demolished Corkman Irish Hotel in inner-city Carlton, and for then dumping it in Cairnlea, in Melbourne’s north-west.

The developer’s company, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd, was fined a further $300,000.

In sentencing, magistrate Richard Pithouse told the Sunshine Magistrate Court the men’s “cavalier disregard for the law” meant they should go to jail, but the legislation did not allow it.

“You don’t know how close you came to jail,” Magistrate Pithouse said.

“If jail were available, I would impose imprisonment for such a blatant breach.”

He said the exposed asbestos in Carlton and Cairnlea put the community at substantial risk.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a shopping bag full or a spec,” he said.

The magistrate also slammed Mr Kutlesovski for his behaviour in the court, telling him: “I wouldn’t be sitting rubbing your chin so smugly as you are today.”

“I hope everyone knows your name,” he continued.

“You think you’re above the law, but you are not.”

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The Corkman Irish Hotel, which was popular with students, was destroyed without a permit.

The EPA welcomed the fine.

“The directors and the company in this case have shown blatant disregard for the environment, for public health, for community safety,” CEO Cathy Wilkinson said.

“It’s unacceptable [and] EPA Victoria puts on notice illegal dumpers.

“Victorians want polluters, want people who do the wrong thing, held to account.

“We don’t want asbestos uncontrolled in the environment, it needs to be dealt with appropriately.”

She would not say if the men should have been jailed.
Historic pub illegally demolished and never rebuilt

The pub, formerly known as the Carlton Inn Hotel, stood on the corner of Pelham and Leicester streets in Carlton for 159 years, but was demolished in October of 2016.

Three days later, the Environmental Protection Authority noted that the debris on site could contain asbestos.

A sample was tested and confirmed the authority’s suspicion.

The developers were ordered to cover the debris, but five days later a pile of rubble was found at Cairnlea, opposite residential homes and only 350 metres from a childcare centre.

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The pub in 1957, when it was known as the Carlton Inn Hotel

A brick in the rubble with a City West Water serial number on it confirmed the materials had come from the site of the Corkman Irish Pub.

The developers also failed to ensure the debris at the Carlton site was adequately covered, with the tarpaulin found to be ripped or unstuck and blowing in the wind on numerous occasions.

The developers had promised to return the pub to its former glory but this did not happen.

Mr Shaqiri and 160 Leicester Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in May to knocking down the Corkman Irish Pub.

Mr Kutlesovski is fighting the charges and will face a four-day hearing in January.

Source: abc.net.au

Mr Kutlesovski will be appearing in court to face further individual charges in January as for some inexplicable reason (which however it must be said is his right) he has decided to plead not guilty to the charges.

His fellow Developer MR Shaquiri and their joint company have pleaded guilty back in May to knocking down the pub. We will keep you posted as to any further developments. At this point no attempt has been made to fulfil the order requiring the full restoration of the Corkman Hotel to its original state.

By way of contrast we now cast our gaze in the direction of Adelaide – its West End of the city to be exact.

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Here we visit another Hotel, an older pub facing demolition, not as with the Corkman by stealth, but rather with the blessings of the South Australian Government. The Marshall Government is somewhat gung-ho pro-development so this glorious hotel, which first opened its doors in 1837, now faces demolition for potential ‘student accomodation’ – another tower.

For many years the ‘Eddie’ as it was affectionately known was the central venue for Adelaide’s Gay and Lesbian community.

But to give it its proper title, The Edinburgh Castle Hotel is a prime example of early colonial architecture and construction in Adelaide. With precise masonry using selected local stone, hand made bricks, iron lace work, at a guess the building originally would have featured a slate roof. With ornate chimneys, dentils, curved brick window surrounds and doors in feature brick, this was a building meant to last.

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It is now outside of the province of the South Australian Planning Minister to nominate the building for a State Heritage Listing. This can be accomplished by simply anyone nominating the building to the South Australian Heritage Council. To date no-one has!

What it will take in the end is someone willing to put up about $3 million. The big question is will they get a return on their investment. Or will they purchase with a bigger picture in mind – preservation

One could surmise that such an original property, part of Adelaide’s early history is entirely worthy of preservation. If you so agree you can sign this petition to the South Australian Planning Minister Mr Stephen Knoll.

View the Help Save the Edinburgh Castle Hotel petition here

Right now Adelaide is suffering from the destruction of many of its older and more iconic buildings in the name of ‘Development’. Beautiful crafted buildings are being replaced by bland nondescript towers.

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Even in the ‘City of Churches’ – churches are not sacrosanct. The Maughan Church, an extraordinary building is gone, demolished to make way for a 20 storey $80 million development.

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Putting it simply – it has to stop. Adelaide was the first entirely ‘free settlement’ in Australia. It was graced with capital and wealth by its earliest inhabitants. At the current rate of destruction there, it’s likely that historians will find it difficult to make a case that the settlement commenced prior to 1880.

Heritage has real value. It is who we are and where we have come from. It is imperative that we protect it.

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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. For further information on Balance Architecture’s services or to make an appointment for a free consultation, please click here or call 0418 341 443.

Our Heritage – It really does matter. The Corkman Irish Pub, The Queen Victoria Market and new Heritage Victoria powers.

For those who appreciate Heritage listings and the buildings protected by such rulings, the month of May has seen three spectacular results. In the first, the Corkman Developers have broken ranks with one developer Mr Raman Shaquiri (Partner) admitting to illegally demolishing the heritage listed hotel in October 2016. In another major coup, the City of Melbourne have agreed with Heritage Victoria to drastically alter its plans to ‘redevelop’ the Queen Victoria Market. The council now acknowledge the need for a new plan for the ‘project’. Finally those who own Heritage buildings and leave them in disrepair and neglect face the prospect of now being served an order to carry out urgent repairs or face hefty fines. These rulings have all been welcomed by the State Government and its Planning Minister Mr Richard Wynne.

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In the Corkman case it seems there is a rather futile attempt by the development company’s other Director Mr Stefc Kutlesovski to avoid penalties, pleading not guilty to the charges associated with knocking down the hotel. As well their company ‘160 Leicester Property Ltd’ has been charged. It too has pleaded guilty to a number of charges.

Here is the report on the court proceedings from the ABC News.

Developer pleads guilty to illegal demolition of Melbourne’s historic Corkman pub

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The pub, which was popular with students, was destroyed without a permit

One of the developers charged over the illegal demolition of a 160-year-old Irish pub in inner Melbourne has pleaded guilty, but his fellow director is preparing to fight the charges.

Developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski, and their company 160 Leicester Proprietary Limited, were charged for knocking down the Corkman Irish Pub at Carlton in October, 2016.

It is alleged they were planning to develop the property occupied by the pub, which was built in 1858.

Mr Shaqiri left the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court briskly to avoid the waiting media after admitting to being a director of a company that permitted the demolition despite not having a building permit, and failing to exercise due diligence to prevent the company from contravening the planning scheme.

The company, 160 Leicester Proprietary Limited, also pleaded guilty to a number of charges.

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

Co-director prepares to fight charges

Mr Kutlesovski has indicated he will plead not guilty and is set to face a four-day hearing in January. The court heard up to nine witnesses will give evidence.

Mr Shaqiri will have to wait until his co-director’s case has been finalised before he’s sentenced.

Magistrate Sarah Dawes earlier expressed her frustration at the delay in hearing the case, after it was initially scheduled to happen earlier this week.

The court heard the men and their business were initially being represented by the same lawyer but a conflict of interest between the parties had arisen and it was not able to go ahead.

Ms Dawes said it was “unacceptable” that the hearing had to be delayed seven months, effectively for the developers’ “convenience”.

Mr Shaqiri’s barrister agreed it was “regrettable”.

Ms Dawes refused the media’s request for access to the prosecution summary of evidence against Mr Shaqiri despite his guilty plea.

Source: abc.net.au

The Queen Victoria Market re-development has been stalled since Robert Doyle stepped down as Mayor of Melbourne. It appears that council has recognised this is a project that needs a drastic re-think. Apart from the general community disquiet over the presented plans, the ruling by Heritage Victoria has halted the project forthwith.

Read about it here in an article from the Age Newspaper dated 14th of May 2018.

Queen Vic Market plans on ice after council backs down from shed fight

Plans for the Queen Victoria Market will be drastically altered by Melbourne City Council, after it backed down from a battle with the state’s heritage authority over its proposal to refurbish 140-year-old sheds.

The city council had wanted to temporarily remove four of the market’s heritage sheds and, while they were being restored, dig three levels of underground parking and service areas for traders.

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The $250-million redevelopment plan for the Queen Victoria Market has been put on ice

But that plan was halted in March when Heritage Victoria said it could not accept assurances the sheds could be returned to the site in their original condition.

The heritage authority also rejected the council plan because its officers believed the fabric of the 19th-century market would be irreversibly altered if the project went ahead.

On Monday, council officers and acting lord mayor Arron Wood said they would go back to the drawing board with plans for the project.

The council may dump altogether plans for underground services beneath market sheds A to D as it had planned.

It will spend around six months coming up with a new plan for hundreds of car parking spaces the council must provide under an agreement struck with the Victorian government in 2013.

What has been proposed?

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Under that deal, the council will build a new park on the site of the current open-air car park next to the market.

But in return for other state-owned land next to the market being given to it, the council must provide an equal amount of car parking elsewhere.

It had relied on putting car parking underneath the refurbished heritage sheds.

The council wants to redevelop the market to ensure it provides a brighter future for the produce and retail centre – which because of apartment development on its doorsteps will have an extra 22,000 residents living nearby within half a decade.

Acting lord mayor Arron Wood said he was disappointed the council would not proceed with its original plan for the market sheds.

“I can’t fathom the fact that you can’t dismantle some pretty basic construction like those sheds and refurbish them and return them in a much better state,” he said.

He had initially reacted with anger at the Heritage Victoria ruling, pledging to challenge it.

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Acting lord mayor Arron Wood at the market

But Cr Wood said he had “gone through the five stages [of grief] here and spent a fair bit of time and anger”; he was now reconciled to revamping plans for the market.

While he wanted the underground project to go ahead, Cr Wood it was just one of 13 works packages in the redevelopment plan.

And he said a legal challenge by the council against Heritage Victoria’s decision to reject the underground plan would not have been ‘‘a great look, for one government entity to be going after another government entity through the courts. It doesn’t win hearts and minds’’.

He said perhaps the council had failed to sell its redevelopment plans effectively, but that there had been a massive amount of consultation of traders and customers before it had pressed ahead with its ultimate plans for putting services underground.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne is expected to soon release his decision on a separate project tied to the Queen Victoria Market renewal, a 42-storey apartment tower and community centre to be co-developed by the city council and property group PDG.

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The Age asked Mr Wynne his views on the council’s rethink of its current plans for underground services beneath the heritage sheds.

“We’ve been very clear that any development of the market will have to respect and preserve the rich character and heritage that makes it what it is,” Mr Wynne said.

Some traders who would have been directly affected by the underground project were celebrating on Monday, saying they were glad it would be re-thought.

Among them was Paul Ansaldo, who with his wife and children has run a fruit stand at the market for the past 31 years.

Their stalls are in the sheds that were to be dug up, and he said the implications of putting their storage areas underground had never been properly thought through by the council.

This included making traders reliant on lifts to bring fruit and vegetables up to the surface from cold stores below ground.

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Paul Ansaldo, a trader at the market for 31 years, is pleased the council’s underground plans will be revised

“There are a lot of people who don’t get along around here – can you imagine the debacle we would have had if we were all underground in a tight space?

“If you don’t talk to one bloke, you’re going to have a blue over who gets their fruit in the lifts first. There would’ve been a murder committed,” he joked.

He said the council should focus on promoting the market, not redeveloping the sheds.

But another trader, wine seller Marshall Waters who celebrated a decade at the market last week, said there was already enough promotion.

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A supporter of the council’s plans, Mr Waters said it was tragic the project would not go ahead in the format proposed before Heritage Victoria struck it down.

“Why Heritage [Victoria] refused that permit is totally beyond me – I don’t think it’s anything to do with heritage, it’s to do with politics. It’s appalling we are so ruled by stupid populist decisions like this. It was a great project and now it’s basically dismantled.”

Source: theage.com.au

Finally, perhaps the most significant news item. The State Government has introduced new laws to ensure Heritage listed buildings are not left neglected, to be demolished, damaged or excavated. The penalties for doing so now include fines up to $375K or a maximum five years jail.

It has long been the practice of some developers to simply allow a building to become so damaged and beyond repair, the simplest solution seemed to be to demolish the building. With the blatant actions at the Corkman Irish Pub and the former Metro Night Club at the top of Bourke St it became an imperative to step in and protect Victoria’s rich heritage.

Read about the new laws and some examples of how these laws are to be enacted in this article, also from The Age, May 3 2018.

Owners of neglected heritage-listed buildings in Victoria ordered to start repairs

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The new owner of Macedon House has been ordered to clean the property up

Derelict, abandoned and vandalised: at first glance it is hard to believe Macedon House in Gisborne and Valetta House in East Melbourne are prized state-listed heritage assets.

The owners of the two heritage-protected homes, neglected for many years, have just been ordered to carry out urgent repairs or face hefty fines.

It is the first time the state government has issued a repair order since new laws were passed last year aimed at cracking down on property owners or developers who flout heritage rules.

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Photographed in 2015, Macedon House was unused except by vandals

The two buildings have fallen into such a state of disrepair that the state government’s heritage authority has ruled their future preservation is under threat.

After years of concern from conservation lobby groups, planning minister Richard Wynne last week signed off on orders that require the owners to comply with a list of repairs by a given deadline.

The state government last year strengthened its power to enforce repairs and doubled penalties for unauthorised works to heritage-listed places.

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A hotel, Macedon House was built in the pre-Goldrush era

People found to have demolished, damaged or excavated one of Victoria’s 2400 heritage-listed assets face fines of up to $373,000 or a maximum five years’ jail.

“Those lucky enough to own heritage assets have a responsibility to maintain them — and we’ll ensure they do,” Mr Wynne said.

Macedon House, about 50 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, dates back to the 1840s. The single-storey bluestone building is considered a rare surviving example of an early Victorian hotel.

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Local groups fear the house may be demolished by neglect

Once buzzing with travellers in the gold rush era, the building has long been abandoned and left to decay. Windows have been smashed and boarded up, the walls punched with holes and graffiti scrawled on the building’s facade.

Melbourne businessman and developer Brian Forshaw last year sold the property, with plans to develop it into a retirement village, for $1.21 million — but the transaction is yet to settle. Title records show Gary Braude placed a caveat over the title in September.

The local council’s website states the application for the retirement village was withdrawn in March.

The repair orders state the site must be cleaned up, and all doors and windows secured within 21 days. The government has also given a 90-day deadline for drainage works and the underpinning of external bluestone.

In East Melbourne, Valetta House, built in 1856, was the home of Sir Redmond Barry, the Supreme Court judge who presided over the Ned Kelly trial. The grand mansion has been empty for many years but its owner, psychiatrist Despina Mouratides, has previously said she plans to renovate and move into the residence.

Ms Mouratides declined to comment when contacted by Domain on Thursday.

She has been ordered to reinstate all windows, doors and locks, and undertake external conservation works by May 14.

In the past two decades, the state government has only stepped in and issued repair orders for two other buildings: the Criterion Hotel in Sale and Camberwell’s Boyd House.

Property owners served with a repair order can seek a review in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Source: domain.com.au

Heritage isn’t just a word. Our Heritage is in fact who we are and how we came to be who we are. It’s the buildings, the culture, the people, the social interaction. In terms of buildings and structures it’s often something of great beauty, other times it’s just something simple, something unique, ultimately something precious.

There are battles ahead. St Vincent’s Private Hospital is planning to demolish or partly demolish three significant buildings in Old Fitzroy. The Queen Victoria Market is by no means safe. Safer, but not yet safe. Each week new buildings are earmarked for development. In South Melbourne just last week the old AAV Building in Bank St with associated property has been offered for sale – and development – for a cool $40 Million. The owners of the current ANZ bank building on the corner of Bank St and Clarendon St have applied to demolish the rear ‘addition’ completed quite tastefully in the 1970s and throw up a multi-storey office block.

The choice is rather stark. Keep the facades and build canyons of multi-storey apartment blocks or provide real heritage protection. And the truth is the choice is really yours – if you choose to exercise it. Beautiful streetscapes, wonderful old buildings, or concrete canyons. What legacy do you want to leave the next generation?

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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. For further information on Balance Architecture’s services or to make an appointment for a free consultation, please click here or call 0418 341 443.