I know I’m banging on about a lot of heritage stuff recently but here’s an example of how quickly it can be lost.
Old Sunshine Fire Station (Google Street View 2009)
On the corner of Hertford and Hampshire Roads in Sunshine is the old Sunshine Fire Station, comprised of the engine house, offices and residential flats. You probably drive past it often and know it as the current home to Tobin Bros. funerals. It’s a beautiful neo-Georgian style red brick building dating from 1927, designed by renowned commercial architect Cedric Ballantyne (also responsible for the Derrimut Hotel on Sun Crescent and Melbourne’s fabulous Regent Theatre).
Tobin Bros have only been using the front part of the building. The residential flats at the rear have been empty since I moved to Sunshine 2.5 years ago.
The owners applied to demolish the residential flats in May 2010 but Brimbank City Council (BCC) knocked them back. The application was then adjusted to undertake internal alterations converting the flats to a hall/chapel for the funeral home. A permit for this was granted in December 2010.
As of 3 weeks ago, the residential units were still sitting empty and, as far as I know, unmodified. On the night of 30 Jan 2013 they were extensively damaged by fire.
The photos below were taken 2 days later – it looked as though the fire damage was contained to the rear and although the roof and windows of the residential flats were destroyed, the brickwork remained standing.
By February 6th, the flats had been demolished.
A couple of local residents questioned BCC via Twitter whether all due processes had been followed to determine so quickly that the flats could not be rebuilt but BCC advised that they were currently investigating the incident under planning and building regulations and would not comment further while investigations were underway.
This is why we need to be vocal about saving our heritage. I wait with interest for BCC’s findings.