Threatening cracks at another neglected building

On 28th March 2013 a neglected wall at the CUB Brewery site fell onto Swanston Street, killing three pedestrians. So how many other abandoned buildings around Melbourne are at risk of falling over?

Massive crack in the facade of 243-251 Flemington Road, North Melbourne

I found one at the corner of Abbotsford Street and Flemington Road in North Melbourne recently, attracted by the ‘Wheelwright’ and ‘Shoeing Forge’ signs on the facade.

'Wheelwright' and 'Shoeing Forge' signs on the facade

However I didn’t notice the massive crack in the brickwork, until a Twitter follower sent me a link to a Google Street View image showing how bad it really was.

Close up view of the cracked brick wall

As it happens, it was luck that I took my photos when I did, because by the first week of April, the entire building had been reduced to a pile of rubble.

243-251 Flemington Road, North Melbourne reduced to a pile of bricks

So how long had that crack in the wall been there? When I looked into the history of the site, I found this was yet another case of an abandoned building being neglected by property developers, and becoming a risk to public safety.

History of the site

Located on the corner of Abbotsford Street at 243-251 Flemington Road, North Melbourne, the building has been abandoned for a number of years. A search of the City of Melbourne planning register bring up the first relevant result in 2004:

Permit Number:
Date Received:
Proposed Use or Development:
Construct building for use as a medical centre,child care centre, function hall and dwellings
Objections Received:
Refusal – 22/12/2005

With concerns about the intensity of the land use, and a massive number of objections, the City of Melbourne refused to issue a planning permit. As a result the developer appealed the decision at Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) in 2006, which upheld the decision, but two years later the developer revised the design, and tried again to gain approval:

Permit Number:
Date Received:
Proposed Use or Development:
Demolition of existing buildings and development of a three storey building to be used for a child care centre, child play centre (indoor recreation facility), and five dwellings
Objections Received:
Refusal – 11/12/2007
Permit – 18/08/2008

The City of Melbourne refused this proposal at a council meeting on 4 December 2007, but VCAT overturned the decision, and a planning permit being issued. From the date the building fell into limbo, and with the developer not commencing construction, the planning permit expired two years later. For this reason, in 2011 the development again went before council:

Permit Number:
Date Received:
Proposed Use or Development:
The use of the building for a childcare centre, medical centre and food and drink premises, reduction in the provision of car parking, the construction of a building and the construction or carrying out of works, waiving the requirement for loading and unloading facilities
Objections Received:
Refusal – 17/02/2012
Permit – 28/02/2012

With a new planning permit granted in 2012, the developer set the ball rolling for construction, requesting a demolition permit for the building:

Permit Number:
Date Received:
Proposed Use or Development:
Demolition of the building
Objections Received:
Permit – 24/12/2012

So was the building ever heritage listed?

While the site is affected by the Heritage Overlay (North and West Melbourne precinct), the structure was never listed – it was just an ungraded building in the Heritage Places Inventory. So why wasn’t this building listed when everything else in the area was added the register – no one seems to know.

Further reading

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7 Responses to “Threatening cracks at another neglected building”

  1. Andrew says:

    I photographed the building in May 2008 and after checking now, the large cracks doesn’t appear to be any worse when you photographed it. Maybe the one under the window is a bit longer. Pity it has gone. It was a nice piece history. Evil VCAT.

  2. Andrew says:

    Just uploaded them. I think the other building in the album was very nearby.

  3. enno says:

    The thing that annoys me there is the phrase “reduction in the provision of car parking”.

    Reduction, compared to what ? The old previous use, or the previously proposed development.

  4. David P says:

    I don’t recall whether I’ve mentioned it 2u b4, (it’s likely), but the facade of 160-162 Bourke Street, Melbourne looks fragile.

    According to National Trust it’s a former church that’s too young to be the building at 158 Bourke St that E. W. Cole rented from 1873-1883 for his first “Cole’s Book Arcade”, but like that building, it has a large rainbow at the front that can be seen from the other side of the st. Perhaps inspired by it’s neighbour?

    (Currently occupied by White Tomato Cafe).

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