Court action on Belchers

LEGAL: Geelong's Belchers Corner building.

City Hall is set to take the owners of a crumbling central Geelong building to court after they allegedly failed to comply with “emergency” demolition orders.

City Hall announced its prosecution proceedings against the Belchers Corner owners on Wednesday.

The owners corporation had made “no tangible progress” on the demolition order more than a year later, City Hall said.

“Those owners who fail to comply with orders to protect the public will be held to account,” said City planning director Gareth Smith.

Concrete cancer forced the closure of the 92-year-old building, on the corner of Moorabool and Ryrie Sts, in July last year. More than 20 businesses had to evacuate the area.

The Municipal Building Surveyor (MBS) issued the emergency demolition order in September 2018 amid fears of a building collapse.

Another order two months later instructed the owners corporation to stabilise the building by the end of December to “protect public safety”.

The owners failed to comply in time, costing council $1.3 million to stabilise the building.

The state’s planning tribunal appointed an administrator to handle the case at the start of December after the owners expressed concerns about paying for the demolition.

Council attempted to ensure compliance with the demolition order through “numerous meetings” with the owners and the administrator, City Hall said.

The City is seeking to debt recovery from the owners for the cost of the stabilisation works.

The first court hearing was set for 20 November, City Hall said.

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