The developers who illegally demolished the heritage-listed Corkman Pub in 2016 could still turn a profit on the site under a dodgy deal reached with the Victorian state Labor government.
Despite initially affirming that changes to the law would force the pair to rebuild the 1858 Carlton inn as it stood prior to being knocked down, Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne has agreed to only enforce this if the pair don’t redevelop part of the site by 2022.
Under the deal, Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri must turn the site into a temporary park by November this year. However, this is only an interim measure. They could still be approved to develop the site up to 12 storeys high!
This means that despite paying penalties totalling close to $2 million, including a $600,000 fine for dumping asbestos near a school, the developers might still profit from their crimes through redeveloping or selling the site, which was valued at $8-10 million as a commercial development prospect in 2016!
This is completely unacceptable. Wynne’s deal sends a message to rogue developers everywhere that they have free reign to make money destroying public heritage.
Planning experts have rightly called for the Corkman site to be forcibly acquired by the government. The case is so outrageous that even the Liberal Party opposition, the darling of big developers, has come out in favour of compulsory acquisition.
The Corkman site should immediately be brought into public ownership, without any compensation paid to the cowboy developers. The community should democratically decide how the land is used.
While heritage laws need to be strengthened to prevent similar incidents, this is not enough. Under capitalism, all development is based on profit rather than human need.
We need a socialist system that puts construction and planning in public hands, and gives the community democratic control over all development.
By Sheri Bryson