Plans lodged for new hotel at Corkman site
Six years after illegally demolishing Carlton’s historic Corkman Hotel, the developers of the Leicester St site have submitted plans to the City of Melbourne to construct a new three-storey hotel.
Developers Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri, the two men behind the company 160 Leicester Pty Ltd which owns the site, both received jail sentences last year after the company demolished the original pub without planning approval in October 2016.
It prompted the City of Melbourne and Minister for Planning Richard Wynne to take action against the pair in VCAT, seeking an order for the former two-storey rendered brick Carlton Inn (more recently known as the Corkman Hotel) to be rebuilt.
However, the men would instead be ordered to clear the site and turn it into a temporary park while new planning permissions were received. But the company failed to do so and in July 2020, the council and Minister Wynne launched contempt proceedings against it.
The site was eventually turned into a temporary park last year, while both Mr Kutlesovski and Mr Shaqiri received month-long jail sentences in September 2021 and were ordered to pay more than $1.4 million in fines and costs.
But the site could now be given new life after the developers submitted $9 million plans for a three-storey hotel with a rooftop terrace and three basement levels designed by Six Degree Architects.
In its planning application lodged with the City of Melbourne last month, the developers said the licensed premises would provide opportunities for “social interaction and support a vital night-time economy providing music, food and entertainment”.
“The proposed licensed premises will deliver positive cumulative impacts to the area. The licensed venue will provide a new entertainment space for the area to serve local residents, workers, students and visitors,” a statement in the application read.
“The new venue will be accommodated in an impressive building where patron activity areas have been designed to provide for a relaxed setting in both indoor and outdoor areas.”
The statement of significance – included as part of the heritage impact statement for the site – said that while the demolition had caused “irreplaceable loss of the significant building fabric and its aesthetic significance”, the proposal was consistent with the “historical and social significance of the place”.
Carlton Community History Group’s Jeff Atkinson agreed, stating that it considered the proposal to be “quite reasonable”.
“It is not too large and overwhelming, sits well in its surroundings, and is certainly much better that the original proposal,” he said, adding, “the fact that the Corkman Hotel was demolished is an indictment of the current planning regulations and an indication of how inadequate they are in protecting our heritage buildings.”
National Trust of Australia (Victoria) CEO Simon Ambrose said while it was disappointed by the developer’s decision not to consult the community as part of its proposal, it was an overall “pleasing” application.
“The National Trust is pleased to see a hotel proposed for this site, which, if approved, will continue its historical and social significance as a place of gathering and entertainment,” Mr Ambrose said.
“However, it is disappointing that no community consultation has been undertaken to inform the plans, considering the huge impact the destruction of the Corkman Hotel has had on the community.”
However, some members of the community have voiced their strong opposition to the plans, with one local, Gary Vines, arguing an approval would give the “Corkman Cowboys what they wanted”.
“It is clearly an ambit claim to avoid the planning scheme amendment condition lapsing and enabling the illegal demolition of the Carlton Inn to set a precedent,” he said.
“If approved this permit will prove that planning law has no power to rein in the shonky developers. It gives the Corkman Cowboys what they wanted – windfall profits from an illegally cleared site.”
Carlton resident Lester Levinson said he could see no reason why the “illegally demolished Corkman should be replaced by a hotel, of which Melbourne has no shortage, most under-patronised”.
“A new hotel will not service the conviviality and accommodation needs of the Corkman’s former clientele, who will have gone elsewhere to satisfy those needs,” Mr Levinson said.
“A children’s playground on this site would be a far better (social) investment for Carlton where refugees, homeless and unemployed families need some cost-free recreational outlet close to the temporary accommodation they are being provided or are seeking in this locality.” •