In Redevelopment by Clyde Mooney

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Victoria is promising developers big fines and potential jail time for illegal demolition, following the destruction of Carlton’s beloved Corkman Irish Pub.

Premier Daniel Andrews’ Government will this week introduce legislation allowing the Courts to seriously penalise developers performing illegal building works. The laws will see offenders face up to five years’ prison, individuals fined up to $93,276 and corporations up to $466,380.

Pub under demolition. Photo: Lyn George

Pub under demolition. Photo: Lyn George

The move follows the unlawful demolition of the Corkman, a week after a suspicious fire in the vacant building. Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri bought the pub for $4.76 million in 2015, and reportedly had no permit to demolish it or DA submitted for a new construction.

The 1857 pub was protected by a heritage overlay that seriously restricted changes or development. Its demolition was suggested to have immediately doubled the value of the prime corner block in Carlton.

Public outrage ensued, worsened by discoveries of asbestos waste both at the site and at another site owned by the pair, illegally transported and dumped there after the pub’s demolition.

The owners, dubbed the “cowboy developers”, faced penalties from Victoria’s Planning Department and the EPA, but the collective penalties were still unlikely to rival the windfall of the property’s lift in value potential.

Government has subsequently been under pressure to put in place a suitable deterrent, in an attempt to stop hungry developers running the ‘too late’ gauntlet.

Despite cries for the Corkman to be reconstructed, using much of its original materials, this now seems unlikely. The Planning Minister suggests the owners will be forced to construct a new building in a similar style and design.

Luckily for the owners, the new laws will not apply retrospectively.

Image courtesy Victoria State Library

Corkman Irish Pub. Image courtesy Victoria State Library