Developers may be forced to restore the 159-year-old Corkman Irish pub after illegally destroying it earlier this month.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said he and the City of Melbourne would launch an action through VCAT today to pressure the site owners to rebuild in line with the “design, scale and layout” of the destroyed pub, the ABC reports.

"It has been wilful and illegal destruction of Victorian heritage which can't be tolerated," he says.

According to the Age, if Wynne and the city council’s initial bid fails, the owners will still be forbidden from building anything other than a two-storey venue of similar size and style, thanks to new planning rules about to be introduced by the state government.

The pub, which was previously known as the Carlton Inn, had a heritage overlay but was demolished on October 15 despite the developers having no building or planning permits. They also continued the destruction despite a council stop-work order.

On top of this, the site owners have dumped asbestos waste from the demolition at another of their properties in a residential area in the north-western suburb of Cairnlea.