The Victorian government and the City of Melbourne today (Thursday) said they would take joint action in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to force the rebuild of the Corkman hotel in Carlton, illegally demolished on 15 October.

A statement from the Victorian government said:

If VCAT rules in favour of the government and council, an enforcement order would require a rebuild in line with the design, scale and layout of the demolished building.

Minister for Planning Richard Wynne had also imposed a two-year design and development overlay on the site so planning controls on the corner of Leicester and Pelham streets maintain the size and scale of the original building.

Having the overlay in place will prevent the owner profiting from an uplift in value on the site as a result of knocking down the pub, which was under a council heritage overlay.

This overlay is in place for two years so the council has time to consider permanent controls and involve the community in decision-making.

The site owners are already under investigation from the Victorian Building Authority, the City of Melbourne’s Municipal Building Surveyor, the Environment Protection Authority, WorkCover and Heritage Victoria.

The VBA and council are looking at several breaches of the planning and building acts, such as building works without a permit, contravening a stop work order and building works without insurance.

 Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said:

While these cowboy developers thumbed their noses at Victoria’s building and planning laws, we are sending a clear message that wilful and illegal destruction of our heritage will not be tolerated.

We are also looking at new fines for commercial heritage buildings so owners face tougher penalties for illegal demolition, fines need to be a deterrent, not the cost of doing business in Victoria.

City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said:

I don’t think anyone in Melbourne wants to see rogues benefit from the unlawful demolition of a heritage building and we all now need to work towards achieving the best outcome for the site.

We can’t get the original Carlton Inn back but we can support legal action to require restitution of the building and amendment of the planning scheme to put strict controls on any future development of the site.

Author of the original article Willow Aliento this week added to her report with news on 25 October that the Victorian Environment Protection Authority had tracked illegally dumped and asbestos-contaminated waste from the pub’s knock-down to a development site associated with the owners of the Corkman site.

“The Fifth Estate can confirm that the site, at 93 Furlong Road, Cairnlea, is being developed as a multi-residential project, Havenlea, by Makshaq, a company associated with the owners of the Corkman site.

It is understood many of the apartments and townhouses at Cairnlea have already been sold off the plan.

An EPA media statement on 25 October said:

EPA Metro Manager Daniel Hunt said EPA had located the waste at 93 Furlong Road, Cairnlea, following a tip-off from the community to EPA’s 1300-EPA-VIC pollution hotline.

EPA officers took samples of the waste at the Cairnlea site today and test results have confirmed asbestos is present,” Mr Hunt said.

Mr Hunt said EPA would now issue a notice to the owner of the Cairnlea site that will require them to cover the waste to prevent any dust leaving the premises and impacting nearby residential properties.

The site owner must also erect signage around the boundary of the property advising that asbestos is present and wet the waste to prevent asbestos fibres leaving the site until a cover is installed.

The owner will be required to undertake air monitoring at the site to ensure there is no airborne asbestos present; they must also install controls to prevent any sediment from the premises discharging and contaminating the local stormwater system,” Mr Hunt said.

The owner of the site must also engage a suitably qualified asbestos consultant to assess the premises and produce an asbestos management plan that details both the on-site management and the safe removal of the asbestos.

“Anyone who dumps construction and demolition waste, or permits its illegal disposal, faces a fine of up to $758,350 if prosecuted,” Mr Hunt said.

“The tip-off we received really demonstrates the value of community reporting, and we thank the person who called us. It may have taken us much longer to find the waste without that valuable information.”

Mr Hunt said EPA continued to take strong enforcement action at the Carlton site.

Mr Hunt said EPA would shortly issue a $7,500 fine to the site owners for failing to adequately cover the debris by the required date. EPA officers have inspected the site and the covering which has been installed does not sufficiently cover the debris.

In addition, on 20 October the site owners were issued with a second notice requiring them to produce documentation that stated where any waste removed from the site had been taken.

This notice was not complied with by the due date, 4pm on 24 October, but EPA has since received some documentation from the site owners and is assessing it as part of its overall investigation into a range of possible offences under the Environment Protection Act 1970.

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  1. I fear a bodgy built replica pub will worsen rather than remedy the damage. This is clearly a criminal act as it has destroyed a valuable amenity shared by the community. Criminal charges for deliberate demolition should be applied equivalent to those for a premeditated act of arson or theft. A year in jail would prove more salutary than monetary penalties for these arrogant cowboys.