Better Managing Brisbane’s Character Housing Stock
Rod Bligh, Director at Bligh Tanner shares his thoughts on improving the assessment of character housing in Brisbane.
Currently Brisbane City Council has two primary assessment factors for demolition approval in Brisbane, these being:
a) Reasonable cost to make structurally sound
b) Streetscape contribution
For houses constructed pre 1911, factor ‘a’ has to be satisfied even if factor ‘b’ is not an issue.
Bligh, who has over 20 years’ experience working with heritage buildings and structures and has been involved in advising on council demolition matters, believes the current system could be greatly improved.
“The current assessment is a very inexact science and relies on precedent in the last court ruling, which in turn is dependent on the judge’s attitude to character housing,” he said.
“Although the structural assessment of old houses is a pretty narrow viewpoint, it does seem to be important to the decisions made by courts on demolition approvals.
“In my experience, the process is compromised with the focus being on ‘reasonable’ cost of repair, which then gets into semantics about structural soundness of individual stumps and sheets of roofing iron.
“In recent advice I have given to Brisbane City Council legal and planning teams, I have tended to focus more on original quality and capacity of construction rather than whether a house needs restumping or not.
“I think it is a very important issue to deal with in a more structured manner as Brisbane grows and matures.”
Bligh proposes a Guide to Structural Adequacy of Character Housing in Brisbane be implemented which can inform and address the important issues and better influence the decisions around the retention of different houses in Brisbane.
Bligh believes such a guide would greatly assist planners, developers, courts and home owners who may be considering demolishing or retaining/refurbishing a character house.
“We often come across projects where planners and home owners have been ill-advised or haven’t understood the intent of Council in relation to demolition applications. When called upon at an early stage we’re able to use our relationship and experience with council and understanding of character houses to assist – this expedites the process. Having a guide that shares some of these insights would be very valuable,” Bligh said.
Bligh Tanner undertakes work both locally and nationally and is among only a few Conservation Structural Engineers officially recognised by the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.
Image courtesy Brisbane Marketing