Developers who destroyed a Melbourne pub that was more than 140 years old have been labelled “cowboys” and will be referred to the state’s building authority.
The Corkman Irish pub, formerly the Carlton Inn Hotel, on the corner of Leicester and Pelham streets in Carlton was demolished despite a council stop work order.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne said developers did not have planning permission to demolish the building and labelled them “cowboys”.
Mr Wynne said the developer would be referred to the Victorian Building Authority.
He also said the government would look into increasing penalties for unlawful demolition.
Fines currently run up to $200,000 but could be flouted by developers working on large profit margins, Mr Wynne said.
“I’m very happy to have a look at what other opportunities there are for us to consider much stronger penalties when clearly you have a commercial development here for which the developer is going to make a lot of money,” Mr Wynne said.
“This is a very significant commercial development potentially, with very significant profit available to the developer, who have thumbed their nose at the planning regime. They ought not get away with it.”
‘Brazen and wanton’ act of destruction
Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said he was “outraged” by the destruction.
“This is the most brazen and wanton act of destructive vandalism that I’ve seen in my time as Lord Mayor,” he said.
He said there had been a fire in the building last week, but council officials did not find any signs it needed to be demolished as a result.
“This would never be something that we would allow to be demolished … because the damage simply wasn’t severe enough,” Councillor Doyle said.
He said despite the stop work order issued on Saturday night, the developers continued to destroy the building on Sunday.
“This shows how determined these people were to raze this old pub to the ground,” he said.
Pub should be rebuilt, heritage group says
Melbourne Heritage Action president Tristan Davies said the pub was one of the oldest buildings in Carlton and popular with university students.
He called for tougher penalties for those who demolish heritage buildings without permission and called for the developers to rebuild the pub.
“There really aren’t strong enough penalties when this does happen, because obviously they felt they could get away with it,” he said.
“These are part of our history and our culture our social landscape, especially a historic pub near Melbourne University which has been frequented by students for possibly 100 years or more.
“It’s an old building, it’s something we value I suppose heritage. It’s still a meeting place for people so it’s important to keep places like this because you’re not going to get that with a bunch of student flats on the site.”