Finance Property Should illegally demolished heritage buildings be rebuilt? Australia’s historic buildings at risk

Should illegally demolished heritage buildings be rebuilt? Australia’s historic buildings at risk

corkman hotel developers
Developers who illegally demolished a historic Melbourne pub say they've learnt a salutary lesson. Photo: AAP
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A San Francisco property owner will be forced to rebuild an illegally demolished heritage-protected home and install a plaque explaining what happened to the original building, according to a BBC report.

While the tough penalties have been applauded by advocates of heritage architecture, it’s a different story in Australia where many historically and culturally significant buildings remain vulnerable to unscrupulous development, often with little recourse.

The Carlton Inn (circa 1857) – later renamed the Corkman Irish Pub – in 1957. Photo: State Library of Victoria (

The Corkman Irish Pub in Melbourne, built in 1857, was illegally demolished by developers in 2016 – a brazen act of vandalism that outraged Victorians.

Developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski ignored both the heritage overlay and a “stop work” notice, sneaking in demolition crews on a weekend to raze the historic drinking den.

Two years on, however, and the site’s future remains uncertain, with the issue still before the courts.

This is despite tough talk about sanctions by local and state governments, which included vows to force the developers to build a replica of the pub rather than proceed with the plans for a multi-storey apartment complex.

National Trust of Australia (Victoria) chief executive Simon Ambrose criticised the drawn-out process, and called for “strong and consistent” planning laws to ensure that “historic places can be adapted and repurposed to have a viable future”.

Developers responsible for illegally demolishing the Corkman pub are fighting orders to rebuild it. Photo: AAP

“The current planning controls allow for the construction of a 40 metre building on the site. This doesn’t square with the community’s expectations that the pub will be rebuilt, a commitment given by the state government and council in the days and weeks that followed the demolition,” Mr Ambrose told The New Daily.

Providing incentives to property owners to “recognise the benefits that the care of heritage places bring to the community” is also key, he said.

A Tasmanian home owner has been forced to stump up nearly a quarter of a million dollars for illegally demolishing a heritage-listed home. Photo: ABC News/Emilie Gramenz

In August, a man who illegally demolished a heritage-listed Hobart home lost a court bid to have his $225,000 fine reduced, the ABC reported.

Magistrate Simon Cooper described 33-year-old home owner Darko Krajinovic’s actions as “the worst case imaginable”, and “a flagrant and deliberate disregard of the law”.

However, he declined to impose the maximum financial penalty of $353,000, and Mr Krajinovic was not required to rebuild the home.

In Sydney, the owners of the Strawberry Hills Hotel, built circa 1844 in Surrey Hills, last month learned that the building’s awnings would be cut through to accommodate infrastructure for the city’s beleaguered light rail project.

Community groups have rallied to save the Sirius building and have it returned it to public housing. Photo: AAP

Meanwhile, the fight to save what is considered one of most iconic example of public housing in Australia, the Brutalist-style Sirius building, continues despite the NSW government’s plan to sell it off to developers for a mooted $120 million.

In Brisbane, the fate of the fire-ravaged Broadway Hotel in Woolloongabba, built in 1889, remains unclear, with the state government is embroiled in a stoush with a Brisbane city council over who is responsible for the building.

The state government has issued a “stop order” to ensure that “any demolition of the masonry walls that survived the fire will not be allowed to take place”.

The University of Adelaide has also come under fire from for its recent demolition of a 1936 Georgian cottage designed by renowned Australian architects Woods Bagot.

Adelaide city councillor Jessy Khera said Australia’s third-oldest university was “no friend” of heritage buildings, describing the cottage as “irreplaceable” according to an Adelaide Now report.

In Western Australia, residents of the small holiday town of Walpole are battling to save two nearly century-old, but not heritage-listed, timber guest houses built by the town’s first settlers, the ABC reported.

The local council gave developers the green light to bulldoze the buildings earlier this year, to make way for a $12 million caravan park.

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