Brisbane City Council can do nothing to protect three inner-city heritage value homes from being bulldozed because a demolition licence has already been granted, a councillor has confirmed.
The three properties at Highgate Hill were not granted heritage listing in Brisbane’s 2014 city plan.
Houses in Brisbane constructed before 1911 are protected if they are listed on the city plan, but council did not have the three properties in Jones Street recorded on the list.
The loophole has allowed a developer to seek approval to tear down the three homes, which were built in 1882, 1894 and 1906, to make way for a five-storey unit block.
About 30 locals turned out this morning in an attempt to delay the demolition, while the Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government worked to fast-track a protection order for the buildings.
The protesters made way for the workers to begin asbestos removal after a police direction was given about 8:30am.
This afternoon, Neighbourhood Planning and Development Committee chairwoman Councillor Amada Cooper said it was too late to save the houses because a State Government demolition licence had already been granted.
“I would hope that the developer would do the right thing by the people of Brisbane and respect that decision that council and the State Government have made where we think these building are off merit they are over 100 years old,” Cr Cooper said.
“We are really disappointed they have taken advantage of that loophole in the legislation.”
Earlier today, a spokesman for the Lord Mayor said the homes had never previously been identified in any council records as being built before 1900 and were therefore not included in City Plan 2000.
The spokesman said the homes were also not nominated for investigation by local Councillor Helen Abrahams or by residents for heritage protection during the development of City Plan 2014.
“Identifying pre-1911 homes is an extensive process made more difficult when significant alterations are made to the original buildings, as is the case with these homes on Jones Street,” the spokesman said.
“Once council became aware of the possibility of these homes in Jones Street being built prior to 1911, due to a nomination from a member of the public, council immediately commenced a detailed investigation into the historic nature of these homes.
“In October last year, a private building certifier acting in accordance with the State Government’s Building Act 1975, independently approved demolition of these properties.
“Council played no part in this approval, which was allowable under State Government Law.”
The spokesman said the council had then received an application for a new development on the site.
“This has not been approved and in fact council has indicated that the initial proposal would be an overdevelopment of the site, does not reflect the character of the local area, and is not in line with the neighbourhood plan,” he said.
‘Laws written to favour developers’
Councillor Abrahams, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and councillor for the Gabba ward, said she still hoped the protection of the properties could be enacted today.
This shows that the underlying problem lies in Queensland’s regulatory framework. We can contest some developments on technicalities, but the laws have been written to favour developers.
“I do believe the two tiers of government are working together as hard as possible to save these buildings,” she said.
Jonathan Sri, Greens candidate for the Gabba ward, said despite both the council and the Queensland Government saying they wanted the houses preserved, the developer still had a demolition permit.
“This shows that the underlying problem lies in Queensland’s regulatory framework,” he said.
“We can contest some developments on technicalities, but the laws have been written to favour developers.
“Rotten building facades can be replaced, but a rotten system needs more than superficial renovations.”