There’s something about university pubs — the memories made therein are often fond, but hazy. In Melbourne students woke up to a hangover like no other on Sunday, when developers razed a beloved drinking venue without permission. Melbourne City Council is considering legal action after developers illegally demolished a 159-year-old pub in Carlton that was subject to heritage overlay. The Corkman, formerly known as the Carlton Inn, was built in 1857 and bulldozed on the weekend, despite a stop work order and a the absence of a demolition permit. The building formerly stood on the corners of Pelham and Leicester streets in Carlton, opposite the University of Melbourne’s Law School building. The Age reports that fines could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and there have also been calls demanding that the developers who bought the site in 2015 rebuild the original facade of the building. It wouldn’t be the first time; in 2012 developers were ordered to rebuild a 90-year-old wall, brick by brick, after a factory in Richmond was illegally demolished.
The developers may find that they have made enemies in powerful places, with a group of Melbourne University Law students taking up the cause. Student Scott Colvin says in a press release that students with many fond memories of the pub are asking for it to be rebuilt. “We’re asking the City of Melbourne to right this wrong and to resurrect an establishment that contains over a century of Melbourne history.” The students have submitted an application to VCAT in attempt to restore their beloved watering hole. Will this be a legal victory to put on a prospective barrister’s CV?