Demolition of the final building – the steam engine house

The current status of the proposed development of the last untouched heritage buildings on the site – the Brick Press Shed and Engine House

Object to the demolition of the final Brunswick brickworks building – here’s how.

December 2021 – January 2022

In late November 2021 we were notified that the developer has submitted an application to demolish the Steam Engine house. Submissions close 21 December and the developer has refused to support an extension. However, Heritage Victoria can consider ‘any other matter’ and is unlikely to be making a decision over the Christmas break.

Please make a short submission by Sunday 9 January 2022 to help to inform Heritage Victoria’s decision making.

Use the Heritage Victoria submission form here. For the top section, the relevant details are:

Place or object name:Former Hoffman Brickworks
Address or GPS location:72-106 Dawson Street Brunswick
Victorian Heritage Register number:VHR H0703
Permit Application Number:P36023

Submissions should be emailed to: We would love you to copy us in: (not gmail).

You are welcome to use some or all of our points below. Submissions are stronger if they are in your own words – even if they are much simpler. For example: ‘I object to the proposed permit being issued. This site is important to me because…

Save the Brickworks’ submission

Re: VHR0703 Former Hoffman Brickworks: 72-106 Dawson Street, 

Permit P36023 for a permit to demolish Building 6 (Former Engine House)

Save the Brickworks Inc (‘Save the Brickworks’) strongly objects to the issuing of this permit. We present our submission below.

Save the Brickworks strongly urges the Executive Director, Heritage Victoria to refuse the current permit application on the following grounds.

1. Irreversible impact on heritage significance

Demolition of Building 6 will have an irreversible negative effect on cultural heritage significance because of the loss of an original building, the engine house, which is specifically mentioned, (along with the Brick Press building, currently being demolished) in the Statement of Significance under “What is significant”.

Demolition will result in a loss of part of the historical significance as a rare surviving industrial site, which is illustrative of Melbourne’s brickmaking industry and will potentially jeopardise its State significance. 

With the recent loss of Building 5, Building 6 is the last opportunity to retain existing fabric on site. 

2. Contrary to long-standing commitments

The proposal is contrary to long-standing commitments and all previous permits issued by Heritage Victoria which required retention and conservation of Building 6. These commitments are reflected in the rezoning, overlays and permits issued by Moreland City Council, in the 2012 Sec 173 Agreement and in all of the all parties discussions and agreements over more than 20 years.

3. Loss of authenticity

Authenticity is a key principle of good interpretation practice (Australia ICOMOS Practice Note on Interpretation, Nov 2013) and as much of this site as is possible must be retained to enable the effective interpretation of the Hoffman Brickworks.

4. Failure to implement conservation requirements

The condition of both Buildings 5 and 6 appears to be substantially the result of a failure to comply with conditions on previous heritage permits combined with a lack of adequate maintenance and a failure to secure the buildings over a long period. The condition of these buildings, and the subsequent requirement to ‘make safe’ Building 5 that has led to its demolition, should not be used to justify the demolition of Building 6. Responsibility for the condition of these buildings rests solely with the owner.

5. Remediation of any contamination should seek to retain Building 6

The argument for demolition based on the extent of ground-based contamination is not accepted. It has not been demonstrated that Building 6 needs to be demolished alongside Building 5 to enable remediation. Contamination could potentially be remediated with minimal impact on Building 6: this option has not been addressed in the application. The remediation solution to excavate the entire site appears to have been based on the assumption that there would be a two level basement carpark to the entire site.

6. Lack of investment into conservation

Residential rezoning and development of parts of the VHR-listed Hoffman Brickworks was designed to enable the conservation of the components of the place that make it of State (and national) significance. There is no evidence that the applicant has invested any of the funds gained from the extensive development already permitted into the conservation of Building 6.

7. Requesting building demolition without an agreed replacement 

Approving the demolition of a heritage asset before approvals are in place for its replacement is very poor heritage practice. We note that the Heritage Impact Statement repeatedly refers to plans for the site, however these plans have neither been formally submitted nor approved and are not attached with this permit application. 

8. Inadequate Heritage Impact Statement

The conclusions of the Heritage Impact Statement (HIS) which forms part of the permit application are inadequate or misleading in a number of ways. These include:

  • HIS point 2 suggests that because Building 5 is currently being demolished, Building 6 should also be demolished. We do not accept this justification. Building 6 has been stabilised and should be retained in original form.
  • HIS point 4 states “there is nothing in this building that would shed any light on its original purpose”. This is a biased and unjustified statement. The building itself is heritage-listed and has been deemed as significant. If interpretation of the site was adequately planned and created within this original building, it would provide rich insight into the use of the building and the whole Brickworks site. 
  • HIS point 21 states: “there is no foreseeable use [of Building 6] which would be prudent and feasible.” This is a biased and unjustified statement. 
  • HIS point 25 states: “It is proposed to demolish Building 6 and to re-use salvaged bricks in the new building, paving and “garden” walls.” The re-use of bricks in paving and garden walls does not constitute restoration of heritage features nor contribute to meaningful interpretation.
  • HIS point 26 states that (other than demolition) no other options have been considered. This is unacceptable. 
  • HIS point 27 states that if not demolished, the building is unsafe. The owner has an obligation to maintain the building as safe. This is not a reason to demolish. 
  • HIS point 30 states that, “There will be no impacts on any adjacent or neighbouring heritage place.” We do not agree with this statement as the Brickworks site can be interpreted as a whole. The original appearance, scale and relative location of the buildings is part of this interpretation. 
  • HIS point 33. Summary of Impacts and Conclusions. We strongly disagree with the statement that there is no reason under Section 101 (2) and (3) of the Heritage Act to refuse a permit. We believe there is a very good reason under this section of the Heritage Act:

2 (a) the extent to which the application, if approved, would affect the cultural heritage significance of the registered place or registered object.

For further supporting information on these points, please refer to Save the Brickworks previous submission to the permit application to demolish Buildings 5 and 6 in 2020 – Permit application P31711. This submission, dated 20 November 2020, is attached. While some of the points in the attachment apply to Building 5 and 6, much of the content remains relevant for this permit application to demolish Building 6 only. 

Save the Brickworks notes that Buildings 5 and 6 should have been appropriately maintained and conserved over the last 20-plus years. We do not believe that the owner should be permitted to demolish Building 6 and be rewarded with a ‘greenfields’ site because it has failed its obligations. 

Save the Brickworks objects to the activity of demolition for demolitions sake. No plans have been put forward as to what would be built in place of this heritage site, so the activity of demolition at this point seems at best an opportunistic move to ultimately remove heritage requirements for Building 6, so as to allow unhindered development on this location. This site is stabilised, and there is no discernible reason to demolish a stabilised heritage site, especially when there are no defined future uses slated that might incorporate integration of heritage elements.

Thank you for taking the time for consider our submission.

Yours sincerely

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