Heritage Protection – It’s time to act.

Heritage protection of Melbourne’s fabulous older buildings remains a challenge in 2020. In January, the State Government acknowledged that the ‘Corkman Cowboys’ have thumbed their nose at the agreements and requirements those developers had entered into. The State Government has now initiated new legal actions against them. This consists of an enforcement order brought jointly by the State Government and the City of Melbourne at VCAT to ensure the developers deliver on their promises. As yet, they have not.

The reality is that heritage protection in this state remains fairly weak with legislation hamstrung by the inaction of local councils in maintaining Heritage overlays and databases in their areas of control. Some examples of this are Bayside City Council and its intransigence on the protection of the midterm modern architecture in Beaumaris and Black Rock, and the ongoing rolling heritage disputes in the Booroondara Council areas.

Here’s a recent synopsis of the situation in Bayside as published in the Age Newspaper

National Trust slams Bayside Council’s ‘deplorable action’ on heritage sites

Planning Minister Richard Wynne is being urged to intervene to protect unique mid-century heritage in the City of Bayside – home to some of the best post-war architecture in the state – following the “devastating” demolition of two homes last week.

The National Trust has called for urgent action after the “tragic and unnecessary” demolition of the award-winning Breedon House in Brighton, which was designed by architect Geoffrey Woodfall and built in 1966.

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Beaumaris Modern president Fiona Austin in front of The Abrahams House

Chief executive Simon Ambrose said the modernist house had been left unprotected due to the “deplorable actions” of Bayside Council, which had “for many years abrogated its responsibilities … to ensure the conservation of places of heritage significance”.

A mid-century home in Nautilus Street, Beaumaris, that was designed by architect Charles Bricknell was also demolished last week, despite objections from the National Trust and community association Beaumaris Modern.

And a third modernist home – The Abrahams House on Beach Road, Beaumaris – is also in jeopardy, with an application to build townhouses on the site before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Beaumaris Modern president Fiona Austin said the houses would have been protected if Bayside Council had not abandoned heritage studies in 2008 and 2018.

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The Abrahams family in front of their one-time home

“This week in Bayside has been devastating for our architectural heritage,” Ms Austin said.

Heritage studies would have identified the best examples of the mid-century period, with a planning scheme amendment prepared to permanently protect them. This approach is taken by almost all other councils.

However, the council abandoned the heritage study in 2018 after some residents hit out when told their homes would be put on an interim heritage overlay until the study was completed.

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The award-winning Breedon House in Brighton

“As soon as the letters were put in letterboxes, all hell broke loose,” Bayside mayor Clarke Martin told The Age. “It descended into a horrible situation, where people were literally yelling at each other in the streets.”
Cr Martin said some home owners feared the interim heritage overlay would make renovating difficult, drive down property values and mean they couldn’t sell their homes.

“What underlined the whole thing was the view that it is your castle, you should be able to do with it what you like.”

Cr Martin said the process was so divisive the council paused the heritage study and instead invited property owners to nominate their homes for heritage protection on a voluntary register.

He said the voluntary process had identified eight private homes and 11 council properties in Beaumaris, which the council had submitted to Mr Wynne for approval.

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The mid-century home in Nautilus Street, Beaumaris

He said once these were given protection, the council would restart the heritage study.

However, the National Trust said it was aware of more than 100 places of heritage significance in the City of Bayside that remained unprotected and were at risk.

“Mid century homes are an important part of our history and utilised groundbreaking construction methods, innovative approaches to open-plan living and connections to the landscape,” said Mr Ambrose.

“The Bayside area in particular was a hotbed of architectural expression and experimentation and has one of the best collections of post-war architecture in Victoria, if not Australia.”

The National Trust and Beaumaris Modern have written to the Planning Minister urging him to intervene to protect heritage in Bayside.

Mr Ambrose said he requested that Mr Wynne use his ministerial powers to apply interim heritage overlays to places identified in previous heritage studies.

He said this would be done with a view to pursuing permanent protection through a planning scheme amendment. “[This] allows everyone – including home owners – to have a say.”

Mr Wynne said councils were responsible for protecting their local heritage and this was yet another example of their failure to do so.

“If the council considered these houses to be of local significance, they had the means to protect them and the demolition permits should never have been issued,” he said.

Source: theage.com.au

In Booroondara, the gap between Heritage Overlay approval and the protection of a property by a Victorian Heritage Council listing has meant a number of buildings have been demolished with impunity. The demolition permits were issued prior to the Heritage Overlays being approved and applied.

There needs to be an entire overhaul of Heritage protection in Victoria. Many councils are still running with Heritage Listings first applied in the 1980s and 1990s. It is imperative that these listings are kept up to date. Without an up to date Council Heritage listing all such buildings are vulnerable.

The situation has been allowed to slip whilst under the stewardship of both major political parties. There is one simple reason these issues are more often than not consigned to the ‘too hard’ basket – money. Those wishing to develop in these Council areas often represent a significant increase in rateable property income per property – e.g. Strata Title replacing single occupancy. On particular Local Councils, the developers hold major influence.

The National Trust, the Victorian Heritage Councils and the Heritage Inspection processes are heavily underfunded. With only limited staff, inspections that should take weeks, can be delayed for years.

The Real Estate Industry and the Building and Construction sector have good reasons to turn away – the simple answer is profitability. If heritage supporters want significant change then it will be necessary to strongly lobby both the State Government and individual Local Councils to do much more.

In the case of the State Government there needs to be much stronger funding of the Heritage Council of Victoria and Heritage Victoria. These organisations and the State Government Planning Department have the capacity to implement much more effective heritage policy, and for the Planning Department to provide far more realistic funding to these two organisations.

If you know of a Heritage property anywhere in Victoria currently under threat, please don’t hesitate to message us, or alternatively leave a message on our website and we will investigate and publicise the dispute.

Balance Architecture is committed to ensuring Heritage Architecture and listed buildings receive maximum protection and given due respect and recognition by both Government and Local Government Authorities. Heritage is who we are as a population, it’s where we’ve come from, and it’s the true basis on which future generations will rely to acknowledge our growth and diversity as a city and a State.

It’s time to ensure real protection, to value it, and to celebrate it.

The Battle to protect Heritage is hotting up. Two Key Issues.

The ongoing battle to protect heritage architecture and our historic buildings from unscrupulous developers has seen two major issues come to a head this January. One is the removal of the planning loophole (Amendment 299) that enabled Heritage destruction in Booroondara. This amendment by the Victorian Government Planning Ministry permitted the destruction of buildings subject to interim Heritage Overlays in Booroondara, and was rescinded by the planning Minister on or about January 2nd 2020.

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A bulldozer moves in on 368 Auburn Road

The second major issue is of course the Corkman Demolition and the ongoing refusal of the developers involved to co-operate or to fulfil the terms of agreement made with Government’s Planning Minister, Mr Richard Wynne, last year.

The Corkman Saga is becoming a major thorn in the side of the Minister and his department. Land value at the time of purchase in 2015 was assessed to be in line with the purchase price of $4.76 million. However as a Heritage listed building this essentially meant nothing until the developers ‘knocked the pub over’. Land value is now estimated to be $8 to $10 million. Its plain to see that with fines reduced to $1.1 million last year in the County Court, compulsory acquisition as being touted by the Victorian Government opposition is hardly punitive.

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The Corkman Hotel, prior to its illegal demolition.

We suspect that current legislation in ineffective in dealing with such matters. As can be seen, fines are limited. It’s probably the right time to introduce stronger punitive measures, but no Government wants to be viewed as ‘anti-development’. In this case the Corkman ‘Developers ‘could reap up to 3 times the land value if they were permitted to build. Quite frankly they should never be permitted to under any circumstances. Again – this will require new legislation.

Here are two recent articles from the Fairfax press on the situation

Seize Corkman land, opposition says, after another broken promise

The developers who own the Carlton site where the historic Corkman Irish Pub once stood have failed to carry out their latest promise, which was to build a temporary public park on the land.

The failure has led the opposition to renew its call for the Andrews government to forcibly acquire the land.

Developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski in October 2016 knocked down the 159-year-old pub without planning or building permission.

They were initially fined almost $2 million for brazenly destroying the building over the course of a weekend. Last year, their County Court appeal saw the fines cut to $1.1 million.

Rubble covered the site for three years after the demolition, but in 2019 Planning Minister Richard Wynne reached an agreement with the pair to turn the site into a temporary public park.

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The pub in 2016 before it was knocked down

Under the terms of their agreement with Mr Wynne and Melbourne City Council, the pair cleared the site and were then supposed to deliver a plan for a temporary park, which was meant to be open by February. But the pair have not yet even submitted plans to the city council for approval.

Lord mayor Sally Capp said the council was considering its legal options to make sure the site was turned into public space.

“We’re extremely disappointed the owners of the Corkman site have not complied with the VCAT order,” she said.

Contacted on Tuesday, Mr Kutlesovski refused to say why no action had been taken on the promised park. Mr Shaqiri did not return a message left with him.

Opposition planning spokesman Tim Smith said that Mr Wynne now needed to step in and compulsorily acquire the land, because of his repeated failure to compel the owners to do anything that they had agreed to do.

In 2016 in response to intense public outrage, Mr Shaqiri and Mr Kutlesovski issued a promise – via their public relations consultant, and now Labor MP Will Fowles – to Mr Wynne that they would rebuild the pub. They later reneged on this promise.

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A graffiti piece depicting demolition of the Corkman pub, directly across the road from the site

“Richard Wynne first said the pub would be rebuilt and it hasn’t been,” Mr Smith said. “He then said the rogues that knocked down the Corkman would have the highest fines ever, and that’s not true,” he said.

Mr Smith said the latest failure meant the government “must surely now intervene and compulsorily acquire the site and put it to good use, which is student housing, social housing or a park”.

He questioned why the government was so easily able to compulsorily acquire land needed for major transport projects and yet was unwilling to take the Carlton site off its owners. “We’re not talking tens of millions here,” he said.

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The pub immediately after Kutlesovski and Shaqiri demolished it

Mr Kutlesovski and Mr Shaqiri bought the pub in 2015 for $4.76 million and it was last year valued at between $8 million and $10 million.

Mr Wynne said the planning department was working with the city council to force Shaqiri and Kutlesovski to comply with the VCAT order to build a park on the site. “These cowboy developers have shown, yet again, that they are recklessly disinterested in obeying the law,” he said.

Mr Wynne did not respond to questioning about whether the government would compulsorily acquire the site.

He has previously said the price the government would have to pay to acquire the site would deliver huge profits to the developers, and for this reason he would not proceed down that path.

Source: brisbanetimes.com.au

‘You’re not above the law’: State takes Corkman Pub ‘rogue developers’ back to court

The state government will take developers who razed the historic Corkman Irish Pub to court again, seeking an order forcing them to build a temporary public park at the Carlton site.

Developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski have failed to deliver on their promise to build the park by February under an agreement they reached with Planning Minister Richard Wynne last year.

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The Carlton site on Tuesday

The site remains closed off by a barbed-wire fence and the pair have not submitted plans to the City of Melbourne for approval.

Mr Wynne on Wednesday said the state government and Melbourne council would seek an enforcement order at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to ensure Mr Shaqiri and Mr Kutlesovski delivered on their promise.

The minister said he would speak with Attorney-General Jill Hennessy to expedite the court process and have the matter heard in VCAT soon.

“We don’t want this matter hanging around – we want this matter resolved, we want this park to be built,” Mr Wynne said.

“You can be absolutely confident of my determination and the government’s determination to ensure the enforcement order, if we are successful at VCAT, is in fact abided by these developers. You are not above the law.”

If an enforcement order is issued and the developers again fail to build the park, Mr Wynne said Melbourne council would step in to build the park and seek costs from Mr Shaqiri and Mr Kutlesovski.

The opposition renewed its calls for Mr Wynne to step in and compulsorily acquire the land following his repeated failure to compel the owners to act.

But Mr Wynne rejected those calls, accusing the Coalition of “not understanding planning laws”.

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The Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton, built in 1857, was demolished in 2016

“One of our eminent planning [lawyers] advised me absolutely that the state would be required to pay the enhanced value of the site, plus compensation, and we’re not prepared to do that,” he said.

“We’re not prepared to reward these developers who have flouted the law.

“We will never allow this site to be acquired with a massive windfall gain for these rogue developers at the expense of taxpayers.”

The opposition’s planning spokesman Tim Smith hit back, calling the state government’s decision to take the pair to VCAT a “joke”.

“Dick Wynne has now been dragged back to VCAT, where he says he’s going to get another wet lettuce to slap these two cowboys with over the wrists again,” Mr Smith said.

“Wow, what a joke. These two cowboys are just laughing at Dick.”

Mr Kutlesovski and Mr Shaqiri bought the pub in 2015 for $4.76 million and the site was last year valued at between $8 million and $10 million.

In October 2016 they knocked down the 159-year-old pub without planning or building permission.

They were initially fined almost $2 million for destroying the building over the course of a weekend. Last year a County Court appeal led to the fines being cut to $1.1 million.

Source: theage.com.au

Unfortunately, this saga is now playing into a political situation. To date there is very little substance as to suggestions to compulsorily acquire the property.

The Toorak mansion bought for $18.5 million and razed. The empty block is now on the market for $40 million

The Toorak mansion bought for $18.5 million and razed. The empty block is now on the market for $40 million

In the UK, the developers would be forced to reconstruct the hotel, be fined heavily or face confiscation of the property.

Currajong House in Hawthorn was saved from demolition by Planning Minister Richard Wynne in May

Currajong House in Hawthorn was saved from demolition by Planning Minister Richard Wynne in May

To the second issue – Booroondara. This is another political gamesmanship issue – the loser has been Heritage. The State Government has rescinded Amendment C299 which applied specifically to buildings subject to Heritage Overlays in the Booroondara Council area.

Here is a statement from the Mayor or Booroondara…

Removal of unjust Amendment C299 loophole boosts heritage protection in Boroondara

Council takes back control of protecting the City’s history.

The City of Boroondara is aware of media reports about the Victorian Minister for Planning’s intention to remove the unjust, discriminatory and exclusively prejudicial ‘Boroondara Planning Scheme Amendment C299’, which uniquely allowed the demolition of buildings subject to Interim Heritage Overlays in Boroondara.

Mayor of Boroondara, Cr Cynthia Watson, said Council had been advocating since June 2018 when C299 was imposed by the Minister on Boroondara, for the removal of Amendment C299.

“We are relieved to see common sense finally prevail with the proposed removal of the Amendment C299 loophole,” said Cr Watson. “No other municipal planning scheme in Victoria is subject to an exemption like this one, which allows heritage properties to be demolished”.

During 2019, Council wrote to the Minister requesting the removal of the Amendment on seven occasions (8 and 13 May, 24 June, 30 August, 9 and 13 September and 21 October) and also wrote to all local members of state parliament and Premier Daniel Andrews, seeking assistance to have Amendment C299 removed.

During this time, Council also repeatedly sought authorisations and decisions from the Minister which would have protected properties at risk of demolition. On average, the Minister took over five months to respond to these requests for heritage controls, with several sitting on his desk for well over a year.

In one such instance, the Minister was given three months’ notice by Council that a property at 360 Auburn Road Hawthorn was at risk, and he chose to do nothing. That property was subsequently demolished on Christmas Eve.

Usually, a building’s inclusion in an interim Heritage Overlay would overrule any building permit issued prior to the introduction of heritage controls.

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Under what has become known as the C299 loophole, which exclusively targeted the City of Boroondara, property owners with a building permit were able to override interim Heritage Overlays and demolish historic buildings.“While we are pleased to finally see the end of Amendment C299, we are saddened that this loophole was responsible for the loss of nine irreplaceable heritage properties. Council can now take back control of protecting our City’s history on behalf of our community,” said Cr Watson.

“The Minister chose to exclusively and unjustly target the community of Boroondara and has clearly realised the error of his ways.”

During community consultation for the Boroondara Community Plan, our residents clearly told us that they place great value on Boroondara’s heritage buildings and precincts. We currently have well over 10,000 properties in Boroondara currently protected by heritage controls and have allocated over $1 million dollars to our five-year Municipal Wide Heritage Gap Study to identify further historical properties and precincts. Boroondara is a Council that has a long history of investing in the protection of our heritage and will continue to have a strong partnership with our community in its ongoing preservation.

Information about the Municipal Wide Heritage Gap Study is available on the City of Boroondara website at http://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/heritage.

Comments Attributable to Mayor of Boroondara, Councillor Cynthia Watson

After months of petitioning for the removal of the Minister’s ill-conceived loophole, it is disappointing but not surprising that Council has had to learn via the media of the Minister’s plans to revoke Amendment C299.

As at 3 January, Council has not received any notification from the Minister’s office indicating a decision on removing the Amendment has been made.

We are pleased to see common sense finally prevail but frustrated it has taken this long and at such great cost to the heritage of our City. No other municipal planning scheme in Victoria was subject to an exemption allowing heritage properties to be demolished in this way.

Amendment C299 was responsible for the loss of nine heritage properties across the City. With its removal, Council can take back control of protecting our historic properties.

We now encourage the Minister to expedite the removal of Amendment C299 from the Boroondara Planning Scheme by ensuring its gazettal at the first opportunity. Until this is done, as the Minister knows, at least five more historic properties are at risk of demolition.

Source: boroondara.vic.gov.au

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This historic house at 55 Seymour Road Elsternwick was demolished in August, despite outrage from locals

Mr Tim Smith is the member for Kew, he is also the Shadow Minister for Planning and Heritage. Booroondara is a Liberal party controlled council. Demolition permits are issued via Council. Heritage Overlay submissions are made by Council. A number of vulnerable buildings in both Kew and Hawthorn have been demolished. The State Government Planning Department stepped in to halt the demolition last year of the historic Currajong House.

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This house on Burwood Road, Hawthorn East is set to be demolished

What is required now is an expansions of Heritage Overlays and protections to cover areas not considered important in the 1980s and ‘90s and until recently were not at risk. Armadale, Elsternwick, Hawthorn, Kew and other near city suburbs are in dire need of real action to protect our valuable Heritage buildings from unscrupulous developers.

This will require a genuine non-partisan co-operative action on the part of both State Politicians, Municipal Councils and bodies such as Heritage Victoria, the National Trust and all interested and involved parties; re-vamped Heritage laws with significant powers, increased funding and staffing of Heritage Victoria and the Heritage Council and the co-operation of organisations like the Master Builders Association and the Housing Industry of Australia.

It’s time for a positive change.

Heritage most definitely does matter.

 

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance 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.

Heritage in Hawthorn Saved with Planning Ministerial Intervention

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

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

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

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

Historic Hawthorn house saved from demolition after planning minister steps in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: theage.com.au

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

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

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

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

Renovations will cost up to $7 million

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: domain.com.au

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Carlton Inn Hotel, 1957

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corkman

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Age, July 20th 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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