Statement on the Demolition of Corkman Hotel

We condemn the illegal demolition

“Its architectural value, a classic example of gold-rush era Victorian construction, remained as relevant and important to local residents and university students today, as it was when constructed” – President Professor Don Garden OAM

Corkman Hotel (former Carlton Inn)
Location: Leicester Street, Carlton

The Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV), the peak body for 340 community history societies across Victoria, joins with the wide array of Victorians condemning the illegal demolition of the Corkman Irish Pub.

President Professor Don Garden OAM, speaking on behalf of the Society, expressed dismay and anger at the disregard shown for the heritage and architectural values of the historic building, for community views, and for the planning process.

“The Corkman, also known as the Carlton Inn, was one of the oldest buildings remaining in the suburb of Carlton”, Professor Garden said.

“For more than one hundred and fifty years it has served as a landmark for the local community, from its 1857 construction to recent times.

“Its architectural value, a classic example of gold-rush era Victorian construction, remained as relevant and important to local residents and university students today, as it was when constructed”, he added. “The building was important not just for its age and generally intact exterior, but also for its position in the urban fabric. Standing at the southeast corner of University Square, it provided an anchor reminiscent of the square’s original urban framework.”

Noting the reported series of events leading up to the building’s destruction, including developers allegedly proceeding without relevant permits and in defiance of a council stop order, as reported by the ABC, the RHSV now calls on the Victorian State Government vigorously to pursue penalties, action and redress that will send a clear message of the value Victorians place on our cultural heritage.

“The Minister for Planning Richard Wynne, and the entire Victorian Government, must take action to protect historic and valued buildings and properties in the future,” Professor Garden said. “One important action is to strengthen protection for buildings falling under local Heritage Overlays, like the Corkman. At present, buildings covered by local Heritage Overlays are not protected by significant penalties and, more importantly, VCAT can overrule them.

“We have already seen the CFMEU issue a Green Ban on the site, and welcome the Minister’s strong statements about the actions of the developers.”

“The Society is heartened by these responses, and the public commitment by the Minister to investigate all legal options, including legislative avenues to increase penalties, ensuring that a clear message is sent that such actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We applaud the Minister’s announcement that, even though the developers have said they will rebuild the hotel, he will take the matter to VCAT to obtain legal enforcement of a rebuild.

“The Society supports also calls for penalties beyond fines, including potential criminal action and forfeiture of profits, forcing the developers to rebuild the Corkman, forfeit the site, and loss of any future opportunities to obtain building permits in Victoria. In addition to its significance as a penalty, rebuilding the Corkman is crucial to the urban aspect of University Square.

“We must not only better protect our heritage, but also maintain and in this case restore the urban benefits it provides”, said Professor Garden.

The RHSV is the peak body for local history in Victoria and represents the interests of 340 historical societies throughout Victoria.


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