Following the demolition of the Carlton Inn last week, The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) has joined other groups including the Resurrect the Corkman Working Group established by students of Melbourne Law School, the CFMEU, and Carlton Residents Association, to call for the State Government to urgently review penalties for developers who flout planning laws.
The NTAV convened an urgent summit of stakeholders following the demolition, where a consensus emerged that the community should be involved in future decisions regarding the site. NTAV CEO Simon Ambrose slammed the illegal demolition, saying “the hotel was licensed continually from 1856 to 2016, making it a community gathering place for 160 years.”
“Our research indicates that materials from the original cottage, including bluestone walls and convict hand-pressed bricks, still remained in the hotel until it was demolished on the weekend of 15 October 2016. Now all that remains are piles of contaminated rubble,” he said.
In an open letter to Planning Minister Richard Wynne on 27 October 2016, the NTAV called for an urgent review of penalties under the Planning & Environment 1987. “Current fines under the Act, at around $185,000, are woefully inadequate,” said Mr Ambrose. “Fines need to not only deter people from destroying our heritage, but act as an effective punitive measure. At the moment, mum and dad homeowners face the same penalties as major developers turning multimillion dollar profits. This is unacceptable,” he said.
The NTAV has welcomed reports that the State Government and City of Melbourne will be launching a joint action at VCAT seeking an order to rebuild the pub. “The National Trust supports the Government’s call to rebuild the Carlton Inn. We would like to see the ‘Carlton Inn 2.0’ used as a living conservation project to foster skills in traditional building trades. While it will never be the same, it will send a message, loud and clear, that our community values its heritage, and we will not tolerate its unlawful destruction.”