Presented to Parliament days ago, the Planning and Environment Amendment Bill 2021 will change planning legislation to facilitate the prevention of new development upon land where unlawful demolition of heritage buildings has transpired.

In accordance with this law, the Governor in Council will be enabled to give orders which prevent the usage or development of land for up to a decade in cases where the owner has been found guilty of unlawful demolition in accordance with section 126 of the Act.

Where this happens, developers will be unable to profit from illegal demolition as they will be unable to construct on the property on which the demolition has taken place.

Any order issued as per this legislation will run with the land and will apply still if the land is sold to another party.

The new law will permit planning schemes to bar the development of land upon which a heritage structure has been illegally demolished or permitted to descend into disrepair.

In these instances, the Bill will empower planning schemes to restrict the giving of permits to develop the land unless the development entails specific purposes.

These could involve repairing or reconstructing the structure in question, or building community facilities like parks.

This new legislation comes in the wake of the news that the 158-year-old Corkman Irish Pub was illegally demolished by developer Raman Shaqiri in 2016.

While the Victorian Government and the Melbourne City Council tried to obtain an order to compel the developer to reconstruct the hotel, a deal was made between the government and the developer to morph the site into a temporary park in 2019 under the advisement that the order was not legally binding.

The developers now are being called upon to submit a new planning application amenable to the planning minister and the council by mid-2022.

The laws also adhere to earlier reforms in 2017 which render it an office for builders or others who manage construction work to with knowledge carry any work where no permit has been given or the work contradicts the Building Act, building regulations or conditions in the permit.

In his Second Reading speech, Wynn stated that certain developers had carved a business model from illegal demolition—just figuring the penalties they have to pay into their budgets.

Victorians were rightfully angered by the unlawful demolition of the Corkman Hotel in 2016, says Wynn.

It is an offence under the Planning and Environment Act to demolish a heritage building without a planning permit; however, the current maximum penalty of $198,264 is substantially less than the possible economic value of developing the land, he said. And a planning permit application still can be made.

The measures incorporated into this Bill, he explained, are aimed at preventing these actions. Developers will not be permitted to profit any longer from illegally demolishing heritage buildings.