Contributed from Victoria
It’s good to hear that something is being done about the wanton destruction of the Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton (Victoria).
Unscrupulous developers got their hands on the 159-year old heritage overlayed, historic and iconic landmark and demolished the place. The developers even dumped asbestos on another site Cairnlea, that was picked up by asbestos surveyors from Air Quest Environmental Inc or similar asbestos surveying companies.
Last Friday, the Victorian Building Authority and Melbourne City Council laid 16 charges against Stefce Kutlesovski, Raman Shaqiri and their company 160 Leicester Pty Ltd. They can be fined up to $2 million.
They wanted to build a 12-story apartment tower on the Corkman site.
But is the maximum fine imposed by the law enough. Given that this is a multi million dollar company, with a number of other residential and industrial developments across Melbourne, it may be that this will not be enough incentive to stop this company and others doing something similar in the future.
Existing urban development laws offer little protection. On top of this, there has been a tradition of not acting against those that willfully cut corners and demolish sites illegally. Local communities have been stripped of the ability to have an effective input into the process. They need to be given more say and tighter planning controls are needed.
The consequences for illegal activities by developers should be serious enough to provide an incentive not to engage in them. One could be to deregister those developers found guilty and prevent them, from becoming involved in new contracts. Another, is to impose fines that are large enough to have a serious impact on the business.
The Corkman Irish Pub case is going to court because of the immense public reaction to the demolition and this is a great lesson. Our urban environment depends on the community’s preparedness to protect it.