Sunshine City Club bowls down McKay history

Stuart McKay’s former house in Talmage Street, Albion. Photo: Alexandra Laskie

The owners of a derelict heritage house in Albion plan to demolish it this year.

Sunshine City Club manager Brian Smart said the club wants to bulldoze the fire-ravaged Stuart McKay house “before someone gets hurt”.

The 1937 double-storey house has been devastated by nine suspicious fires in the past 10 years, the most recent, in August 2011, caused about $500,000 worth of damage to the heritage-listed Talmage Street building.

Police spokeswoman Natalie Webster said no-one was charged for the August 2011 incident, and investigations remains open, while Mr Smart said the club has wanted to tear the house down for eight years.

“It’s beyond repair at the moment,” he said.

“It’s dangerous … no-one’s allowed in.”

In 2012, Brimbank council refused Sunshine City Club’s application to demolish the house to make way for a new bowling green.

The council said the residence was an important record of Albion and Sunshine’s history.

Its refusal four years ago follows a 2010 decision to reject a similar request.

In the past squatters have set-up camp inside the house, while graffiti now marks the exterior.

The Victorian Heritage Database notes the Georgian revival weatherboard is the last surviving McKay house in Talmage Street, associated with McKays active in the area in the 1930s.

Stuart McKay was prominent in the McKay firm’s overseas business affairs.

The integrity of the house was “good” when the database’s report was written in 1998.

Brimbank’s director city development Stuart Menzies said the council wants heritage buildings retained, but the management and restoration of those in private hands is the responsibility of the owners.

“Council has no statutory powers to require a landowner to undertake restorations,” he said, and no permits for this one had been sought.