The Repurposing of Heritage Buildings – Skill or Stealth?

In Tasmania, arguably some of Australia’s oldest historic and heritage protected buildings have long enjoyed quite rightful protection from ‘Developers’ and repurposing.


This would appear to be not the case anymore. The Tasmanian Government is currently undertaking an ‘Expressions of Interest’ on the historic Treasury Buildings complex. The complex was earmarked ‘for sale’ in the 2018 State Budget.



The Treasury Buildings were constructed over a period of 130 years, with the original buildings being erected in 1824. Every component building of the complex has since been clad in local Sandstone.

For a better understanding of what the Treasury Buildings complex consists of, please consider this decision by Heritage Tasmania. Currently the buildings are publicly owned.

Treasury Complex’s Heritage Values Recognised

Treasury Building Hobart

The Tasmanian Heritage Council has initiated a process to better define the historic cultural heritage values of Hobart’s iconic Treasury complex.

‘The Heritage Council is pleased to announce the provisional replacement entry of the Treasury Complex and Public Buildings in the Tasmanian Heritage Register and seek input on this entry after an extensive assessment process’ said Ms Brett Torossi, Chair of the Tasmanian Heritage Council.

‘In making the decision to provisionally enter the Treasury Complex in the Heritage Register, the Heritage Council was conscious of recognising the critical role it has played in shaping the Tasmania over the 19th and 20th Centuries. It was also keen to respond to the Tasmanian Government’s announcement of its plans to release the complex for an alternate use and give interested members of the Tasmanian community the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed entry’.

The Treasury Complex and Public Buildings occupies a prominent block within the city centre of Hobart. It includes a group of eight adjoining and interconnected buildings, principally constructed across the approximately 130 years from 1824 to 1957, as well as the former HEC Substation on the corner of Murray and Davey Streets. The complementary styles and scales of the complex’s buildings, most of which are clad in locally quarried sandstone, give them a strong degree of unity.

Across the 19th and 20th centuries, the complex conveyed an impression of state power and authority. During the early colonial period housed the centralised administration of core government functions within the convict society of Van Diemen’s Land. The Treasury Complex and Public Buildings has been at the centre of Tasmania’s judicial, political and administrative life from the 1820s until the present day, and is of exceptional historic cultural heritage significance.


At the time the Tasmanian Government announced The Treasury Divestment Project in 2018, the Treasury Complex was recognised as being of historic cultural heritage significance to Tasmania by two entries in the Tasmanian Heritage Register. These entries were for the Public Buildings adjacent to Franklin Square (THR #2468) and the Franklin Square Office Complex (THR# 2516).

In order to better define the heritage values of the Treasury Complex and ensure they are recognised and effectively managed into the future, the Heritage Council decided to create a single, comprehensive, consolidated replacement entry for the Treasury Complex, inclusive of its buildings, sub-surface values and curtilage. As a result of this effort, a new entry for the Treasury Complex and Public Buildings (THR#11734) was provisionally entered in the Heritage Register on 10 December 2019, under provisions contained in Part 4 of the Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995.

This provisional replacement entry is now open for public consultation. Members of the public have 60-days in which to lodge submissions or objections to the entry of this place on the Heritage Register. This is part of the statutory process required under Part 4 of the Heritage Act.


This process is a two-stage process that entails: the provisional entry of a place in the Heritage Register, written advice to the property owner/s and the local planning authority, a 60-day public consultation period at least 21 days later; and a final decision on the permanent entry of the place by the Heritage Council, with an appeal process available to anyone that lodges a submission.

This public consultation process commences on 8 January 2020 and closes on 8 March 2020. A decision on the permanent entry is expected to be made before the end of April 2020. The Heritage Council’s decision will take into consideration any submissions or objections received.

‘I encourage anyone with an interest in the Treasury Complex and Public Buildings to review the new provisional replacement entry on our website and provide us with their feedback.’ For a copy of the provisional replacement entry click here.


It can be deduced that sections of the Tasmanian Government simply view the historical buildings as an excellent piece of CBD real estate that a profit can be turned on. Equally there are many people Australia-wide who believe these buildings should remain a public asset and be carefully protected.

Heritage Tasmania is calling for submissions and/or objections to its new provisional Heritage Entry on the buildings in question.

Here is the link to that provisional entry for your due consideration and comment.

This type of approach as being adopted by the Tasmanian Government will become far more commonplace as elected representatives look to sell off Government Assets to provide significant financial windfalls.

From the Advocate Newspaper…

Investors sought for historic Tasmanian Treasury building


Investors are being sought to outline their vision for Hobart’s historic Treasury building.

Finance Minister Michael Ferguson said it was important prospective investors were able to undertake due diligence on the site before presenting a concept plan that aligned with the project objectives agreed with the community.

He said investors had until April 2 to outline the social economic and environmental contribution their proposals would make.

“Proponents will be expected to highlight their experience and capacity to deliver a project of this scale and heritage significance, consistent with the new Treasury Complex and Public Buildings Conservation Management Plan,” Mr Ferguson said.

“The CMP, which has been finalised in close consultation with Heritage Tasmania and the City of Hobart, and a survey, are available on the website.


“The survey seeks feedback on whether this comprehensive CMP addresses the issues the community would want the document to cover, and future uses that may be proposed.”

Heritage Tasmania is also undertaking separate public consultations until March 8, 2020, on a single consolidated heritage entry that covers the Treasury buildings, sub-surface values and curtilage, to better define their heritage value.

The historic Treasury building was earmarked for sale by the Tasmanian Government in the 2018 budget.


A similar article appeared in the Launceston Examiner.

The Tasmanian Treasury building complex is not just a Tasmanian treasure, it is a National Heritage treasure.


“Re-imagining” seems like a metaphor for “redevelop” to us. It has already been determined the buildings are not suitable for a Hotel.


Perhaps the Tasmanian Government could look to Victoria for inspiration. The old Customs House in Flinders St has been converted into the Immigration Museum, providing an excellent educational resource for thousands of visitors, schoolchildren and the many, many migrants who have made Australia home. It remains a public building.

And so should the old Hobart Treasury Buildings, an integral part of Australia’s colonial history, a genuine component of this Nation’s heritage and beginnings. Re-imagine that.

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

The Crunch Time – When neglect is rejected as a legitimate pathway to Demolition.

In the last few years, the Victorian State Government blocked a favourite pathway to demolition by unscrupulous property owners. The method was to leave a property unoccupied, with no security. ‘Vandals’ would arrive and pretty well wreck the place. The owners would then be at a loss ‘What to do?’ – too expensive to repair. The only solution was to apply for a demolition permit which, up until early 2019, was often granted.

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368 Auburn Rd which was 130 years old has now been demolished.

But then the State Government legislated to prevent such practices.

Heritage Victoria was given the power to issue orders of protection and restoration. If after the order had been issued and no action was taken, Heritage Victoria had the right to issue work orders to secure and repair the heritage listed property to a manageable state – at the owner’s expense.

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Urgent repair orders have been issued by Heritage Victoria for Macedon House which has fallen into a state of disrepair.

Of course there are always situations where such actions can spark intense disagreement. Let’s not kid ourselves – a fire has always been seen to be the ultimate ‘stocktake’. It is remarkable how many unoccupied buildings sitting upon valuable real estate manage to be burnt down.

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Valetta House has been neglected and vandalised

But there comes a time when there must be a precedent set, and it would appear that the property located at 38 Black St, Brighton may well set that precedent.

Spurling House was constructed in 1889 by an American Architect – John Harbury Hunt. Mr Hunt was one of the first North American Architects to practice here in Australia.


The house was very different to other properties of the time which were Italianate Mansions, Gothic, Georgian renditions or other grandiose renditions. This was in Shingle style using natural organic materials. It was truly unique and even today stands as an extraordinary construction.

Here is a recent article reprinted from The Age newspaper dated Jan 15th.

‘Uninhabitable’, but owner loses demolition battle for heritage house

The owner of a historic 131-year-old house in Brighton, which was damaged by fire and is currently uninhabitable because it is infested with mould, has lost her battle to demolish the property.

In a majority determination, the Heritage Council last month refused a permit to knock down Spurling House. The body noted that once demolished, the cultural heritage significance of a place on the Victorian Heritage Register is “ineradicably lost”.

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Spurling House in Brighton is currently uninhabitable

The case raises interesting questions about when the heritage significance of a property should outweigh the cost of maintaining it.

Dissenting Heritage Council member Patrick Doyle argued the refusal of the demolition permit was a “disproportionate price for the (owner) to pay, for the sake of the broader public interest in maintaining the heritage values of the place”.

Spurling House at 38 Black Street in Brighton was built in 1889 by architect John Horbury Hunt, one of the first important North American architects to practise in Australia.

It was the first house in Victoria to be built in the Shingle style, a North American architectural technique that used organic materials in a way that heightened their natural qualities.

“At the height of the boom in Melbourne, when the majority of houses were designed in a highly decorative Italianate style, the surprising design of Spurling House was exceptional,” according to the Victorian Heritage Register.

However, the two-storey home was damaged by a fire in the roof in October 2015 and has deteriorated further over the last few years.

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Spurling House before it was damaged in a fire in October 2015

Water from fire-fighting efforts, ash and exposure to the elements has also led to it being contaminated with fungus or mould.

More than $1.5 million in insurance was paid in 2016.

Heritage Victoria has issued two repair orders to the house’s owner, which require works to be carried out to prevent the further deterioration of the building.

Failure to comply with a repair order can result in fines of up to $396,528 or five years’ imprisonment, or both.

Spurling House owner Dr Damien Louis applied for a demolition permit in February last year.

She argued the house posed a serious health risk and demolition was the only method to make the site safe and remove the cross-contamination infection and allergen risks.

But this was refused by Heritage Victoria executive director Steven Avery, who said demolition would result in the complete loss of the cultural heritage significance of the place.

Mr Avery said Heritage Victoria was not satisfied that the contamination issues were unable to be remediated.

The decision was reviewed by the Heritage Council.

Committee members Professor Stuart Macintyre and Jeffrey Robinson upheld the decision to refuse permission to knock the house down in a majority determination on December 20.

“The committee accepts that the place is currently uninhabitable and finds that in order for the place to be occupied as a residence again, extensive and costly remediation works would have to be undertaken,” they said in their finding.

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The Heritage Council has upheld a decision to refuse a demolition permit

However, they disagreed with Dr Louis that it was impossible to remediate the house and said it could be made habitable within the amount provided by the insurance payout.

“It is the committee’s view that … the complete and irretrievable demolition of a registered heritage place … should be a last resort, even in exceptional circumstances, including in cases where there has been clear damage, contamination and deterioration at a place.”

However, Mr Doyle, the dissenting member, said he would have allowed the demolition provided there was an archival recording.

“If a place is added to the register, the private owners of that land should not be compelled to leave no stone unturned for the sake of the public interest in favour of heritage protection, all at the expense of their own private interest.”

Heritage Victoria executive director Steven Avery welcomed the majority determination to refuse demolition.

“It is outrageous that four years after a fire destroyed the roof of a significant heritage place appropriate repairs are yet to be carried out,” Mr Avery said.

“This building has continued to deteriorate while the owner has done as little as possible to maintain the building.”

Dr Louis is appealing the repair orders in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.


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Spurling House engulfed in flames.

With the matter now heading to VCAT on appeal, it is likely to ultimately be heard in the Victorian Supreme Court if the appeal is upheld. It is a test case that will determine the strength of Heritage Victoria’s powers and its ability to enforce repair orders.

It is a most significant case. We will continue to follow it with interest. Again, dare we suggest it, Heritage regulations – overlays, protection orders and listings all need further updating and strengthened legislation.

Heritage is precious. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Til next time.

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

The Dilemma – What can be done with previously abandoned Heritage locations like Mintaro Mansion?

There is a widespread recognition amongst savvy property investors that Heritage listed properties can offer excellent returns – given the right circumstances. At one stage investors would simply allow a property to further deteriorate then call the demolition team when the building became unsalvageable. The current Victorian Government introduced laws to prevent this practice. These days Heritage Victoria will serve a works order on the owner. If the works are not carried out within a certain time, then a further order for works will be contracted by Heritage Victoria and the owner must cover the cost.

It is a somewhat tricky proposition purchasing a run-down and dilapidated mansion. The asking price will be substantial. Let’s take a look at Mintaro, an Italianate mansion with intact outbuildings – stables, workshops, butchery, etc, but definitely a faded beauty. The asking price in 2012 was set at $3 million. Bids at Auction reached $2.85 million. It was soon sold privately for an undisclosed sum, and then… nothing. The new owners did nothing to repair or restore the mansion and its accompanying outbuildings. It was back on the market by 2015.

This is no ordinary building. It is a living rendition of the pastoral elegance of the times. As part of John Pascoe Faulkner’s original ‘run’, the land was subdivided and sold in 1860 to a Captain Robert Gardiner, who made his fortune through shipping, whaling, gold mining and grazing. Gardiner commissioned well-known Melbourne Architect James Gall to design a new residence fit for a man of his status.

In 1881 the grand mansion Mintaro was completed. The superb interiors were designed by a German artist MR W Brettschneider. Gardiner died in 1890 and the building was sold to the Methodist Church, but more about that later.


From the Victorian Heritage Register…


Description Summary

The Mintaro homestead is a two storey rendered brick Italianate building with a two-storey loggia running across the front and a part way along two sides. The entrance porch on the north side has free-standing Doric columns and is surmounted by an impressive three storey tower with a belvedere. The two storey service wing to the west is lower and simpler in form. The elaborate and remarkably intact interiors are notable for their variety of surviving original finishes, including hand painted and printed wall and ceiling papers, painted stencilling and wood graining. Elaborate plaster mouldings and ceiling roses are present in many rooms as are marble fireplaces, light fittings, venetians, curtain rails and door and window furniture. All the plasterwork and joinery is marbled, wood-grained, gilded, stencilled or hand-painted and these are integral elements of the overall decorative schemes. All the different elements have been very creatively combined into interior schemes, with each room presenting a unified, richly decorative whole. The spectacular entrance hall features fluted Scagliola columns and Minton encaustic tiles. Opening off the entrance hall are the former drawing room, dining room, morning room and library, all with marble fireplaces and elaborate and largely intact decorative schemes. Three of the four large bedrooms upstairs retain their original wallpapers, with beautifully matched schemes with botanical and classical themes. Other notable intact areas are an original bathroom and a butler’s pantry. Outbuildings comprise a small brick detached toilet, a brick stable and coachhouse, a woolshed and another shed which was once a working horse stable. The mansion is enclosed by a designed landscape providing a dense screen and windbreak on three sides. The original decorative gardens around the house have been largely lost, but the property retains a number of outstanding or rare species, including a very rare Ulmus ‘Viminalis’, Hesperocyparis benthamii, Hesparocyparis macnabiana, Pinus roxburghii, and six Juniperus virginiana, all only known in a few other locations.


This site is part of the traditional land of the Wurundjeri people.

How is it significant?

Mintaro satisfies the following criterion for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register:

  • Criterion A Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria’s cultural history
  • Criterion B Possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Victoria’s cultural history
  • Criterion D Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects
  • Criterion E Importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics


Why is it significant?

Mintaro is significant at the State level for the following reasons:

Mintaro is an outstanding and largely intact example of the mansions constructed in Victoria in the 1880s during the colony’s Boom period. It reflects the prosperity of the colony at the time, and the money that wealthy individuals were prepared to spend to demonstrate their success. (Criterion A)


Mintaro is a rare and relatively intact surviving example of a Boom period mansion with an intact interior decorative scheme. Interiors at this time were extremely elaborate, but intact surviving examples are rare. Mintaro is one of the few houses where the original or early fabric of the decorative schemes for entire rooms survives and is still visible. Notable features include the variety of painted finishes such as stencilling, marbling and wood graining, intact wall and ceiling papers, original gas light fittings, door furniture, tiles and window dressings. The presence of intact cabinetry and decorative schemes for functional and servants’ areas such as the bathroom and butler’s panty is also rare. (Criterion B)


The Mintaro planting features several trees rarely cultivated in Victoria. The Ulmus ‘Viminalis’ which is unusually grafted at about 2m, is one of only four known examples in Victoria, the other three all being in the Benalla Botanical Gardens. The perimeter windbreak around the property includes the rarely grown Hesperocyparis benthamii, Hesparocyparis macnabiana, Pinus roxburghii, and six Juniperus virginiana, all only known in a few other locations. The large number of Juniperus is unknown in any other planting in Victoria. The variety, size and maturity of species of Quercus, Ulmus, Photinia, Morus, Crataegus, Laurus, Pinus, Cupressus and Hesperocyparis, Cedrus, Araucaria and Sequoiadendron are significant. (Criterion B)


Mintaro is an outstanding and intact example of a Boom period country mansion, and demonstrates the principal features of such houses, which were designed to demonstrate the status of their owners. They were typically were two-storeyed, in a Classical style, most often with a tower, had a picturesque form with asymmetric massing and planning, and elaborately decorated interiors. (Criterion D)

The intact decorative schemes are rare surviving and outstanding examples of the highest level of interior decoration available in Victoria in the 1880s. The designs, colour schemes and textures of the original materials and artwork provide a rare opportunity to experience the elaborate aesthetics of 1880s interiors. (Criterion E)


The Mintaro homestead complex sits within an outstanding designed landscape created from 1881 to the 1920s. The serpentine avenue of Monterey Pine along the driveway is entered through decorative gates and sweeps through an extensive parkland and dense perimeter planting. The perimeter planting is laid out to create an internal scalloped edge and includes a large variety of conifers and a few broadleaf and deciduous trees of contrasting foliage and colour. (Criterion E)


Mintaro is also significant for the following reasons, but not at the State level:

Mintaro is of local significance for its association with one of the prominent early landowners in the area, Captain Robert Gardiner, who owned Mintaro from 1860 until 1885 and with the architect James Gall. (Criterion H)



You can view the interior as it was photographed recently here…

The second purchase in 2015 has seen some progress. The new owners restored and replaced the majority of the sash windows, provided maintenance, painted internally to protect the building and its finish from further deterioration.


The old mansion has been used as a visual backdrop for TV series such as Dr Blake, The Broken Shore and Glitch.


Still unrestored, the old building was described in June 2019 as beautiful but derelict.


“A rendered brick Italianate building with a 2 storey loggia running across its front and partway along two sides. The entrance porch on the north side has free standing Doric columns and is surmounted by an impressive 3 storey tower with a belvedere. It still retains its landscaped grounds which are considered outstanding, with very rare trees still in place.”

Mintaro ‘hit the skids’ from 1903 when purchased by the Methodist Church as a Reformatory Home for Girls. It operated as such from 1903 until 1912. Very little was remodelled or changed by the Church. It was again purchased by a Dr Crivelli as a family home. Sold again to the Rea Family in 1934, it remained in their hands until 2012.

And there it sits, waiting for a new suitor. 2012 until now, very little has been done.

In England, the key Heritage organisation runs a lottery. It uses the profits to purchase and restore Heritage buildings such as Mintaro. This historic building is in dire need of attention. Let’s just hope it soon receives it. In our view, buildings like Mintaro require significant investment upon purchase. Perhaps as a pre-requirement to purchase, buyers should be required to provide a strategic restoration plan.

What do you think? Should the State Government invest in preserving Heritage properties like Mintaro? We’d like to think so – til next week.

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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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.”


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.

Demolition Derby Continues, Elsternwick ‘Heritage’ Homes Destroyed

Heritage overlays are curious creations. In the most part the Heritage Council’s approvals for many inner Melbourne locations occurred in the 1980s to 1990s. At the time, many of the areas protected featured buildings aged 100 years or over, constructed in the 1870s and 1880s onwards. Now properties outside of these Heritage overlays are at risk, in that unless holding an individual Heritage protection, demolition permits can be issued, readily.

Originally it was East Melbourne, Carlton, South Melbourne, Fitzroy and Flemington – as well as parts of the CBD that were given Heritage protection. Stately homes in Hawthorn, Kew, Essendon, Moonee Ponds and other suburbs also received Heritage protection.


A buyer paid $9.6 million for 9-11 Edward Street in Kew and ripped it down, after a last-ditch bid for heritage protection was knocked back.

Homes of more a modest dimension often did not, particularly those built in the late 19th Century and also early 20th Century. These homes were constructed between 100 and 130 years ago. But as smaller domestic residences, they had not attracted the attention of the National Trust or the Heritage Council in earlier times. And in the 1980s and 1990s the homes were less than 100 years old.


This rundown Toorak house sold for more than $5.8 million, a heavy discount, after it passed in at auction.

Heritage listing is a time consuming and meticulous process undertaken by the Heritage Council of Victoria upon request, generally form Municipal Councils or the National Trust. The Council is underfunded and there is no overriding policy enacted by the State Government to protect Heritage buildings outside of current declared Heritage overlays and buildings given a listing on the Victorian Heritage Register.


Before: ‘Forres’ at 9-11 Edward Street, Kew, torn down in July 2016.


After: The empty Edward Street block.

With the destruction of the property in Seymour Rd Elsternwick (where over 2000 people petitioned to save it), the intervention of Planning Minister Wynne to save Currajong House on Auburn Rd in Hawthorn, and the unfortunate demolition of two 100 year old plus homes in Armadale in recent times, it is obvious that it is time to provide further funding and legislative power to the Heritage Council of Victoria. With only one or two inspectors available most of the time, heritage approvals in dire situations are simply not possible. More demolitions will occur – it’s far quicker to arrange a demolition permit.

Add to this the destructive nuances of Developers seeking prime property locations. The London Hotel Port Melbourne and the Greyhound Hotel in St Kilda were both demolished on the basis of development plans. Both remain vacant blocks, and have been so since demolition nearly two years ago.

Uncertainty with regard to Heritage protections saw the incredible destruction of the property located at 16 St Georges Rd Toorak by its new Chinese owners in 2015. Having paid $16.5 million in 2013 when informed a Heritage protection order was to be applied imminently and not understanding what they would be permitted to do, they promptly demolished the building. It now stands on the market, an empty block valued at $40 million.


The former house at 16 St Georges Road, Toorak.

All this points to the need for a timely re-assessment of heritage values, their applications and protections. Currently the State Government, Local Councils and VCAT can give totally contradictory orders based on what appears to be out of date and flawed legislation, coverage and values. It’s time to introduce new assessments, values and punitive measures. Surely the Corkman Cowboys have more than adequately demonstrated the urgency of the matter?

A 108-year-old home in the Melbourne suburb of Armadale is being dismantled piece-by-piece after a last-ditch effort to save it from demolition failed.

Regarding the Seymour Rd Elsternwick demolitions, here is the Age Article where even the Opposition spokesperson on Planning is calling for immediate action (we say this as previously the LNP have been ‘pro-development’ under the then Planning Minister Matthew Guy).

Minister should have heeded locals before wreckers moved in, Libs say

Local outrage should have been enough for Planning Minister Richard Wynne to stop the demolition of a historic Elsternwick home that began on Thursday, the opposition says.

More than 2000 people signed a petition to try and stop the 130-year-old house on Seymour Road – which Glen Eira Council failed to recommend to Mr Wynne for heritage protection – from being torn down.

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But a local resident’s referral of the property to Mr Wynne’s agency, Heritage Victoria, and the independent Heritage Council, was not enough to save the home.

A demolition crew arrived on Thursday to begin knocking down the property, bought in June for a touch over $3 million.

“We can’t have Melbourne’s soul torn up because of developers wanting to make a profit,” opposition planning spokesman Tim Smith said on Thursday.

The house is the latest in a number of irreplaceable homes across inner and middle Melbourne whose demolition has enraged locals in recent years.

Four days before May’s federal election, Mr Wynne stepped in to stop an even older property in Hawthorn from being bulldozed.

Mr Wynne said of that 135-year-old property, Currajong House on Auburn Road, that there had “been community concern about the demolition of this grand home, which we have listened to”.

The Elsternwick property destroyed on Thursday is the second historic house in the street to be knocked down this week.

Sam Dugdale, who lives a few doors down from the Seymour Road home started the online petition to save it after a cyclone fence went up outside it last week.

“I was walking past and saw someone was removing the window frames. The next day they were taking out the doors and fixtures,” said Ms Dugdale, who was surprised there was no heritage protection on the tree-lined street.

She rang the council, who said they could not do anything immediately about it. But the council suggested Ms Dugdale file an interim protection order with state heritage authorities.

The department came back to her after she had filled out the form and said “I haven’t established a prima facie case – which isn’t exactly surprising. I don’t know the first thing about planning law or heritage,” said Ms Dugdale, a marketing consultant.

“I just know it’s wrong,” she said, that the house was being demolished without consideration of what was being lost.

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Mr Smith said that too many historic homes around inner and middle Melbourne were being demolished because the system set up to protect them was not working.

“Our local heritage protection system in Victoria is broken, and the Andrews government has to do something about it. We can’t just have this constant stream of Federation-era homes, Edwardian-era homes, being knocked down without any recourse,” he said.

Glen Eira councillor Mary Delahunty said until the recent demolitions in the street, “I didn’t realise quite how unprotected parts of Elsternwick are until we started this process”.

“It’s a reminder we need to throw some more resources at our heritage study,” she said.

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The National Trust’s Victorian chief executive Simon Ambrose said the state government needed to provide more support for councils to update heritage studies, so that more homes of local importance were not lost.

“This problem is bigger than just one house,” he said. “In many areas across Melbourne, heritage protections have not kept pace with development and community expectations.”

In order to protect a home considered important, a council must apply to the planning minister to change the council’s planning rules – a process that can be costly and take months or even years.

“Planning scheme amendments to apply heritage overlays are expensive and time consuming for councils to undertake,” Mr Ambrose said.

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“The state government needs to step in and provide real support.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Wynne said the council was responsible for ensuring its local planning schemes were up to date to protect sites with local heritage significance. She said the council had made no request to the planning minister to stop demolition of the Seymour Road property.

But she acknowledged that Heritage Victoria and the Heritage Council had received an application from another party to stop the demolition.

Both refused the application for an interim protection order because there was no prima facie case on the evidence provided for the building to be deemed of state-level heritage significance.


The issue is becoming quite serious. Both historic and modernist homes are demolished with impunity. Corporations and hospitals partially demolish some of our oldest and most important buildings. Progress and development is entirely a balancing act, we don’t dispute that, but realistically it’s time to ‘put the brakes on’ and review and refresh Victoria’s rather out-of-date and fractured Heritage protection laws. The destruction must stop.

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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 ES&A Bank Building, Moonee Ponds – Restored and Revitalised by Balance Architecture

Not everyone has the opportunity to create a unique business destination in a century old bank. In recent articles we have admired the extraordinary banking chambers created from the mid 1880s until as late as 1926 by the ES&A Banking Group (now merged into the ANZ Banking Group). Some time ago, the banking group sold off the then ‘Moonee Ponds’ branch which was located on Bank St Ascot Vale, cnr of Mt Alexander Rd. Balance Architecture had the task of restoring it to its original glory.

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The new owner chose to utilise this remarkable building to operate a business consultancy from. The concept was not to ‘gut’ the place and rebuild internally, rather it was decided to focus on the fine detail of the original construction and return it to its former glory. Often the ES&A Bank buildings have a course of tiling placed just above the window levels, with the individual tiles crafted for the bank with its colours and icons. This building did not but the livery has been expressed above the arched windows and with the internal colour scheme.


Andrew Fedorowicz, principal architect for Balance Architecture and Interior Design wanted to capture the unique look and feel of this fine craftsmanship throughout the building. Inside the decorative dado stencils and original colour schemes finish the truly authentic feel of this magnificent building.


Rich mahogany timbers, brass fittings and the elegant furniture of the times compliment the superb interior design. Beautiful plaster wall mouldings and ceiling rosettes feature throughout the building. From the roadside the multifaceted mitred façade is set off by the intricate brickwork and upper circular windows.


The boardroom with its elegant marble fireplace, full gilded mirror and high ceiling in soft period wallpapers is simply breathtaking. Resplendent in deep greens, featuring a genuine period chandelier, the corporate colours of the old bank certainly live again.


When selecting an architect, its more than sensible to choose the architect sensitive to both your immediate needs and the living heritage of the building you have chosen to live in, work in or redevelop. Nothing can replace real experience. It is particularly true with Heritage buildings. Andrew Fedorowicz has spent a lifetime working on Heritage buildings (as well as many other projects) and is superbly positioned to assist you in the development of your project. He is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects, a lifetime achievement.

Whether it’s a modern interior that transforms an older property into a genuine luxury abode with the space and comfort you desire, or it’s a combination of both true heritage and today’s living spaces, consult with Balance Architecture and Interior Design to achieve the end result that will satisfy your aspirations. The result is a property both liveable and entirely beautiful in the simplicity of its design.


Call now on 0418 341 443 to speak directly with Andrew today. Make an appointment for a free, no-obligation consultation. Alternatively call 03 8696 9700 and arrange a time suitable to suit your needs. Leave your details here [Contact link] for a prompt reply.

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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.

Dartmoor Police Station moved to Port Fairy – Glenelg Shire Heritage Overlay ignored by Victorian Police.

The Dartmoor Police Station, a historic building listed on the Victorian Heritage Database, would appear to have been ‘illegally’ moved from its Dartmoor site to Port Fairy. Dartmoor is located within the boundaries of the Glenelg Shire Council. Port Fairy os located within the Moyne Shire boundaries. No permit was issued for the building’s demolition by Glenelg Shire Council, in fact the shire issued a cease works notice on Friday the 7th of June. Moyne Shire Council had separately issued a permit for the property for use as a dwelling.


It’s a confusing story, but it seems obvious that Victoria Police have ignored both the Heritage Listing by the Shire of Glenelg, and the Shire’s cease works order of the 7th of June.

Let’s put this in context. Here is the Victorian Heritage Database ‘Statement of Significance’…

The Dartmoor Police Station complex was completed in 1892. The new residence, stable and lock-up replaced the first police station in Dartmoor, close to the existing station, which had opened in 1862 and operated intermittently during the 1860s and 1870s, and the new site was reserved in 1884. The architectural drawings for the new residence and the stable were signed by HJM (J H Marsden) and also JHB (J H Brabin) and HRB (H R Bastow) of the Public Works Department. The first constable in the new station, the mounted trooper Constable Moore, was responsible for an area covering 650 square miles (almost 1700 square kilometres). In 1930 tenders were let for the renovation of the residence, and an additional office was added to the side of the original one. A new residence adjacent to the old one was built in the late 1980s, and the 1930s office was demolished in 1990. Plans to remove the rest of the residence and the stable at that time did not go ahead. A new police station was built in front of the stable in 2006.

The Dartmoor Police Station complex comprises a police residence with an office, a two-stall stable and forage store, and a small lockup. The residence is a single storey double-fronted timber building with a corrugated iron roof, and a projecting gable and a verandah across the front. The former office is in a small room on one end of the front verandah. The residence had a parlour and dining room off one side of a central passage and two bedrooms opening off the other side, and at the rear a kitchen and a pantry opened off a small back verandah. Minor alterations have been made at the rear with the addition of a bathroom and an opening made between the kitchen and the adjacent room. The two-stall stable and forage store is a timber building with a corrugated iron gable roof and a brick cobble floor. It was later used as a garage. A roller door has been added to the entrance and the horse stall partitions and feed boxes have been removed. The portable lock-up is a timber lock-up typical of many that were distributed through remote country areas in the late nineteenth century.

The Dartmoor Police Station is architecturally significant at a local level as an intact police complex of the early 1890s, comprising a police residence with an attached office, a two-stall stable and forage store, and a portable lock-up. It is historically significant at a local level as a demonstration of police practices in the remote parts of Victoria in the late nineteenth century, when the police office was responsible for policing a large area and was dependent on his horses for transport.

Construction date: 1892


Again, the situation is that the building had been ‘recommended for Heritage Overlay’, a limbo that often sees demolition occur before the Heritage Council of Victoria can inspect a building and report on its findings. But in this case no permit for demolition was authorised so the demolition was in fact illegal.

The ABC reported on the matter on Saturday June 15th. For your information here is the report…

Dartmoor residents angry with Victoria Police over ‘theft’ of heritage-listed police station


Residents of the small south-west Victorian town of Dartmoor are up in arms over the “theft” of their historic former police station.

The heritage-listed building was relocated by Victoria Police despite a council order demanding works be stopped due to a lack of appropriate permits.

Built in 1892, the former police station was the subject of a community campaign in the early 2000s to save it from demolition.

But about two weeks ago, residents noticed contractors were working at the empty building, which was located next to the new police station built in 2009.

Half of the building was put on a truck and taken to a residential block on the fringes of Port Fairy, just over 100 kilometres away.


Key points:

  • The original 1890s Dartmoor police station has been relocated by truck. Only one half of the building was initially taken
  • Glenelg Shire Council issued a cease-works notice to Victoria Police but the rest of the building was relocated in the early ours of Tuesday morning
  • Victoria Police say the building has not been sold and are working with council to find a “community-based” solution

No permits issued

Dartmoor District Museum proprietor, Michael Greenham, said he and other residents assumed the Department of Justice had “managed to rescind [the] heritage overlays … so that whatever they were doing was above board”.

But the bush telegraph started to suggest things were not above board, and Mr Greenham contacted Glenelg Shire Council.

A Glenelg Shire Council representative told Mr Greenham on Friday, June 7 that shire officers had left a message with the contractors and spoke with Victoria Police to issue a formal cease-works notice.

No permits had been issued for the heritage-listed building to be removed.

However when Dartmoor residents woke on Tuesday, June 11 the remaining half of the police station had also gone.

“It seems like it was either deliberate or ignorance,” Mr Greenham said.

“To have it quietly disappear — and the second half went before light early on Tuesday morning — it seemed a little bit too deliberate.”

Police put their case

Victoria Police is understood to have lodged a retrospective permit application, according to Glenelg Shire Council.

A police spokesperson said it did not receive a cease-work notice from the council.

“The old police station has not been sold, however it was recently relocated to a rural property in Western Victoria,” the spokesperson said.

“This was approved based on a 2009 report which stated that no planning overlays were in place for the site.”

The police spokesperson said that Victoria Police was actively working with the council to “mediate a community-based solution”.

The former police station and its nearby lock-up and stables, which remain on the block, were gazetted by Heritage Victoria in 2014.

The heritage organisation’s report described the former police station as:

“Architecturally significant at a local level as an intact police complex of the early 1890s … [and] historically significant at a local level as a demonstration of police practices in the remote parts of Victoria in the late nineteenth century.”

‘A bit of subterfuge’

Mr Greenham said the empty building “was always a bit of burden” for Victoria Police.

“Their main role isn’t to look after heritage buildings,” he said.

“They’ve got to man the streets and keep us safe.”

But Mr Greenham described the “theft” of the historic police station as “a little bit of subterfuge”.

“I reckon if I did something like that then Victoria Police would be down on me like a tonne of the demolished chimney bricks that are still sitting on site,” he said.

“It would indicate they didn’t want to go through that public process because they might have encountered some opposition to their plans.

“We could have easily come up with other alternatives; relocating it within the town, offering for public display somewhere else within our police district.”


A painting of the former police station by David Williams in 2004


The case highlights the inherent weaknesses of the current Heritage classification system. By applying for a heritage classification, Councils can freeze the issue of demolition permits. However with only limited staff, a full classification by the Heritage Council of Victoria can take up to 2 years.

In this case, there has been seemingly blatant disregard of the Glenelg Shire’s Heritage Overlay recommendation and the order to cease works. Police claim that they did not receive the cease work notice. This would seem to be an improbable claim.

The 1892 weatherboard building had been vacant for 10 years. It had been deemed ‘unsafe’ and ‘unfit for renovation’ (It’s not clear who made these declarations).

We conclude with an excerpt from the report by local newspaper for South West Victoria ‘The Standard’…

A council spokeswoman said the building, which is included in the council’s planning scheme heritage overlay, was removed from the Wapling Avenue address without council permission.

“A planning permit is required to remove or demolish a building, irrespective of size,” the spokeswoman said.

The 1892 weatherboard building was vacant in Dartmoor for 10 years and was deemed unsafe and unfit for renovation.

But the council attempted to stop the removal and issued Victoria Police and on-site contractors with a cease-works notice on Friday June 7.

“Council is still investigating the matter to consider appropriate enforcement actions and restitution,” the spokeswoman said.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman refuted that police received the cease-works notice and said a planning application had been lodged for the property’s address.

“The old police station has not been sold, however it was recently relocated to a rural property in Western Victoria,” she said.

“In relation to concerns raised by local residents, Victoria Police is actively working with Glenelg Shire Council to mediate a community-based solution.”

Moyne Shire Council planning manager Robyn Olsen said the council had granted a permit for the building to be moved onto private property in Port Fairy for use as a dwelling.

“Council was aware that the building was the old Dartmoor police station and have been in contact with Glenelg Shire for the planning permit information. There is a current building permit for the re-erection of the building,” Ms Olsen said.

It’s the principle that the application of the law in heritage terms should apply to everybody, and ignorance is no excuse.
Dartmoor District Museum’s Michael Greenham

Glenelg Shire mayor Anita Rank said it was “extremely disappointing” the council’s planning processes and heritage overlay had been disregarded.

“It’s relevant to its area of (original) location,” Cr Rank said of the structure.

“It’s of significance with regards to the history of law enforcement in Dartmoor and they have a very strong historical group up there who deem it significant.”

Dartmoor District Museum’s Michael Greenham said he believed the building had been sold and the community were disappointed with the principle of the sale.

“It’s the principle that the application of the law in heritage terms should apply to everybody, and ignorance is no excuse,” Mr Greenham said.

“It was bought as a dwelling from the house removalist and to my understanding (the buyer) is unaware of its significance.”

He said while the community had treasured the building, he believed there was little support for the building to be returned unless the town could put it to use.


In plain English, a house removalist has purchased and sold this historic building to an unwitting buyer.

This simply isn’t good enough. The buyer ends up with half a house, the township of Dartmoor loses it’s historic building, and the State of Victoria’s heritage is diminished once again.

There needs to be significant state-wide punitive measures put in place. In the UK if you illegally demolish a heritage building then you will be required to rebuild it to its original state and condition.

This plus much heavier fines may stop the cowboys of this world wreaking destruction on the valuable heritage of our state.

“It’s the principal that the application of the law in heritage terms should apply to everybody, and ignorance is no excuse.” – Dartmoor District Museum’s Michael Greenham.

We agree with Mr Greenham. This was an appalling blunder and quite simply the responsible parties should be held to account. Heritage values cannot be continually undermined by expedience, developers and profiteers.

It really is time to strengthen Heritage controls and prosecute those who disregard them.

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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 wins! VCAT reject Developers appeal in Albert Park.

Sometimes the answer to a vexed question is obvious. In the case of the building on the corner of Victoria Ave and Merton St Albert Park, the proposed development – No. 1 Victoria Ave – was simply incongruous with its surrounds, the elegant Victorian Terraces of the late 19th Century and the Heritage overlay for the Albert Park precinct. Port Phillip Council has argued this in originally rejecting the proposed development before its promoters, the Saade Group appealed to VCAT.


Dr Alexander Aitchison, the great-grandfather of a past resident, in front of the building.

1 Victoria Ave Albert Park was the home and studios of renowned Australian Filmmaker Paul Cox. As can be seen from the early photo compared to the current state of the building, it has lost some of its lustre. But as was led in evidence at VCAT, the building is structurally sound, with only some minor cracking.


The Port Phillip Council, the National Trust, and more importantly the people of Albert Park considered it worth saving and acted to ensure the glass monstrosity proposed to replace it would not proceed. It was an entirely inappropriate development.

The original blog on the subject dated Feb 12th 2019 gives a well rounded picture of what was proposed and the objections raised. The result in VCAT vindicates the community’s position.

From The Age, June 12th.

Albert Park residents thrilled as VCAT rules in their favour on former home of Paul Cox


In scenes worthy of celebrated filmmaker Paul Cox’s own classic masterpiece Lust and Revenge, Albert Park residents are celebrating their own payback on the developer who wanted to demolish Mr Cox’s much-loved studios.

After raising $35,000 through crowd-funding, and collecting more than 1000 signatures protesting against a plan to replace the landmark 1880s two-storey corner building with much bigger “glass monstrosity”, they have managed to defeat the developer’s appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

They’re now also hailing the verdict as giving hope to others all around Melbourne who want to halt redevelopment unsympathetic to heritage streetscapes.


Locals rallied last year to protect the building from redevelopment.

“This decision is of great benefit to residents who, within heritage precincts, are fighting to prevent unsympathetic redevelopments of significant heritage buildings,” said local lawyer Peter Kenny, who’s been involved in the campaign to halt the proposal by The Saade Group to knock down the late Mr Cox’s home and offices in Victoria Avenue.

“Too often, planning decisions have been made without regard to any redevelopment being sympathetic to the surrounding streetscape. A streetscape of two-storey Victorian terraces should not have an ugly, modernistic four-storey building imposed within it.

“This decision will give great comfort to all residents within heritage precincts who wish to have their heritage streetscapes respected and preserved, and all architects and town planners need to take note.”

The Saade Group wanted to demolish the existing standalone building on the prominent island site in the heritage precinct, which had been remodelled in the 1920s and 1930s and owned by Mr Cox. It applied to put in its place a four-storey block containing seven apartments, a 100-seat restaurant, two shops and a basement car park.


The developers’ render of what its proposed project would have looked like.

“We are not satisfied that the replacement building displays the necessary level of design excellence to justify demolition of the existing building,” VCAT members John Bennett and Juliette Halliday ruled this week. “For this reason, we would not issue a permit for the demolition of the building.”

The receptionist at the offices of The Saade Group, which bought the 500-square-metre site for $5.67 million, said no one was available to comment.

But in Albert Park, the judgment is being celebrated.

“It’s absolutely wonderful, we’re still so shocked that we’ve won,” said one local, Brigid Niall.

“It’s the most incredible outcome and we want to thank everyone who put in their own money to save the building. When the council turned down the development application and then the developer appealed to VCAT, we hired our own lawyers and expert witnesses to fight them, as well as the council’s case. It’s a great win.”

Port Phillip council rejected the application after engineering consultants Irwin Consult found only some minor cracking within the building.

The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) also objected to the planned demolition, saying it was important to protect and conserve all significant and contributory heritage places within the area’s heritage overlay – mostly consisting of rows of double-storey Victorian residential shops, single-storey Victorian shops, terraces and Edwardian and inter-war shops.

Several tenants of the building were given notice by the developer, leaving only a handful operating from the premises.

The developer could now submit alternative plans for a replacement building but, to stand any chance of success, it would need to be smaller, with possibly fewer levels, and be more in keeping with its neighbours.

“But with a different size and design, I can’t see it would be financially viable,” said another of the Don’t Destroy Albert Park campaign organisers, Amber Moore. “We now know that the only way it can be demolished is if another design that’s put up that’s of ‘architectural excellence’.

“But for now we’re all in a little bit of shock and disbelief that the decision has been made in our favour. We’ve spent so much time looking at the building, wondering what was going to happen, and hoping that glass monstrosity wouldn’t be put there. We’re absolutely thrilled to bits.”


With hindsight, this conflict gives an interesting focus on redeveloping heritage buildings or indeed any developments proposed in Heritage overlay areas. Far more thought and consideration must be given as to how such iconic buildings can be redeveloped or modernised. In this case the developers didn’t even offer the pretence of a façade of the original building.




When developers purchase a property in such areas, they are aware of the constraints such listings present. It requires a far more incisive and intelligent planning phase that looks to provide a built to purpose facility with a significant return on investment over an extended future period.

A built to purpose renovation could provide good returns without resorting to inappropriate and expansive quick return development.

As the article states, this result provides a precedent that should be firmly understood by all Developers in Heritage listed areas. Heritage is valued. Don’t trifle with it. People value their history, their environment and the places they choose to live and work.

Heritage will be, must be preserved. Congratulations to the Albert Park community, we thank you.

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

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.


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.”


On another note, several weeks ago we were considering the preservation and restoration of the former ES&A Bank building on Clarendon St South Melbourne (Cnr of Bank Street.)

Principal Architect for Balance Architecture and Interior Design, Andrew Fedorowicz, previously supervised the refurbishment of the Moonee Ponds branch of the same bank we featured in the images supporting the story. It provides a great illustration of just how such a building can be restored to its former glory. In this case, the former bank was converted to an upmarket business premises.

It is worth noting that the heritage decor it timeless and the property has continued to appreciate in value remarkably compared to other real estate available in the same market sector.

Here for your viewing pleasure are images of the project.

Heritage isn’t a peculiar hobby for bored historically inclined people. It’s the genesis of our society, the look, the feel, the fabric of our great city and states – the vistas we look out upon day by day. It’s a reminder of our past yet much of it was designed to last for millennia.

Heritage values and protection – the buildings, the locations, the lavish and not so lavish interiors we need to protect for posterity, for future generations. It is simply non-negotiable.

We commend the National Trust and the Heritage Council of Victoria for their ongoing work in both protecting our valuable heritage and in making much of it available to the public.

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

Corkman cowboys get a leave pass! Heritage dishonoured again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Corkman’s remains on Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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Raman Shaqiri at court in 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stefce Kutlesovski at court in 2017

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

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

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

Neither Shaqiri nor Kutlesovski could be reached for comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.