Confiscate properties illegally demolished by developers.
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Just this week another culturally significant building, The Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton, was destroyed by greedy developers unconcerned by the law they knew they were breaking. This follows the illegal demolition, by contestants on "The Block" of a heritage listed house in Kew last year. They never even copped a fine! And there's many more that don't even make the news.
Too many developers openly flout the law, demolishing culturally significant properties for their own gain, knowing authorities are virtually powerless to stop them. Developers outbid those with more honest intentions for the building and then claim the right to do what they want with the site because they own it, ignoring cultural and community concerns, despite the laws in place.
The current penalty of fining unscrupulous developers does little to discourage highly financed businesses with an eye to their bottom line. With business plans involving tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars of expenditure and return, fines of two hundred thousand dollars simply aren't stopping them.
If the penalty for this kind of cowboy behaviour was for The Crown to confiscate the property, with the offender meeting all costs, all upside from these kinds of activities would be entirely eroded and the practice would end.
Furthermore, banks would be hesitant to provide finance against business plans that skirt the law, knowing they might lose their entire stake.
Should a site require rebuilding, as has been suggested in the case of the Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton, the cost of the rebuilding would be met from the value of the asset and not be reliant on the honesty of those who've already proven they'll do anything for a quick buck - even if it means breaking the law. Too often these cases result in half-repaired buildings lying fallow because the guilty developers simply declare insolvency and walk away, resulting in the repairs being funded out of our taxes.
This is the kind of penalty that would rarely, if ever, need to be applied. With potential profit from the destruction of heritage significant properties removed and finance difficult to obtain, developers would simply not bid on them at all and instead move on to sites with better profit potential.
Please, let's do something to protect what is left of our beautiful architecture from those who seek to profit from crime. We confiscate the proceeds of other crimes, let's do the same to criminal building developers.
We, the undersigned, respectfully request Premier Daniel Andrews to introduce a bill into Parliament enabling such penalties.
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