A Local Icon is Destroyed
The recent destruction of the Corkman Irish Pub is a classic and famous example of an uncontrolled demolition. This heritage listed icon in Carlton was purchased by two developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski in 2015 for just under $4 million and in 2016 the developers demolished the pub without a permit. Of course, demolition of the pub would never have been permitted by the council due to the heritage overlay. Locals raised the alarm and a stop work order was issued to the developers during the demolition; this was ignored and the pub was demolished in full within a day or two of the order being issued.
Asbestos contaminated stockpiles
The EPA investigated the stockpile (pictured) and found asbestos fragments throughout. The developers were ordered to have the area investigated and an asbestos management plan put in place. They were later fined for not acting on this in a timely manner. To compound matters the stockpile was later removed and dumped on another site owned by the developers – this is an entirely separate pollution incident for which the developers were again fined.
Other than the fines the council is seeking to put a stop on any development of the Site until their conditions are met, namely the rebuilding of the original pub with any further development of the Site to be made on a separate application.
All of this sounds disastrous for the developers, but is it? With the skyrocketing prices of land in inner city Melbourne, the cost of fines issued by the EPA begins to pale very quickly. Consider that the rise in value of the land in that location during the 2015-2016 boom year was likely in the order of 0.5 million or more – the fines? One particular fine issued to the developers for not acting on orders in a timely manner was about $7,000.00 – peanuts! Consider also that the developers may have circumvented the heritage overlay on the site – what effect will this have on the value of the land in the longer term?
Do we need to up the fines?
All of this seems to indicate that an overhaul of some kind is needed. Perhaps due to the public nature of this incident, the developers will regret their actions in time as the local council will need to act or be seen as ineffective, but what about all the other demolitions across the city? What else is going on that doesn’t make the newspapers?
And then there is the question of public endangerment. There are good reasons for the controls put in place on demolitions and in particular when in such a public location.
Hazardous materials and asbestos investigations
First things first – you can’t circumvent a heritage overlay by destroying the building – there will be consequences and most likely your project will not proceed thereafter. But what if the owners had permission to knock the building over – how could this have been done in a way that did not endanger the public?
Firstly, the site would need to be investigated intrusively for hazardous materials (termed a Division 6 Hazardous Materials Audit). Following this any asbestos materials would need to be removed prior to demolition by a licensed asbestos removalist. In a public place like the Corkman Irish Pub, asbestos air monitoring should be carried out during all removal works. Finally, a visual clearance inspection by a company such as Greenlight should be carried out to confirm the materials were removed prior to the demolition.
In addition, a visual clearance inspection of the ground following the removal of all demolition materials should performed. This is needed because sometimes asbestos materials cannot be identified during an intrusive search – for example, asbestos cement form work on the bottom of slabs or asbestos cement packing on piers.
The stockpile would need a waste classification report before being transferred to an appropriate waste receivables facility.
The developers failures
Instead the developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski:
- Did not seek appropriate permission from the council for the demolition;
- Did not investigate the building before demolition
- Created an asbestos contaminated stockpile as a consequence;
- Endangered the public by demolishing asbestos materials in an uncontrolled way;
- Did not act on the EPAs instructions in a timely manner; and
- Moved the contaminated stockpile to another property they own creating a separate pollution incident.
These incidents are not always the fault of developers or the owners of the land. An owner may have gotten poor advice from a demolition company then be faced with fines and improvement notices through no fault of their own or because they were unaware of the need to consult with the council prior to a demolition.
If this has happened to you and you have an improvement notice issued by a council, Work Safe Victoria or the EPA contact Greenlight today for a confidential discussion. We have the experience and the know how to resolve these situations to the satisfaction of all parties in a timely, safe and cost-effective manner.