If we can’t save a house like this, then what can we save?

If we can’t save a house like this, then what can we save?

By Susan Prior and Marianne Taylor

A development application has been lodged over 35 Hanlan St, Chelmer, proposing a sub-division, relocation and partial demolition of the heritage listed house, and a modern extension.

‘Leswell’ is a heritage-listed house that was built in 1889 for the Cannan Family. It is one of the most significant remaining early dwellings in the district, having been designed by notable Queensland architects Oakden, Addison and Kemp. The house is an important example of the pattern of early settlement in the district, is of architectural merit, and has played an important cultural role during its 130-year life in our community.

The house is proposed to be moved to a lower section of the lot, onto the current tennis court area, and a substantial extension added. A new small lot block of 407sqm would also be created off Hanlan St.

The proposed development for Leswell contradicts the goal stated on the heritage section of the Brisbane City Council’s website: to ‘protect Brisbane’s past and maintain the architectural heritage and character of our city and suburbs.’

Here’s why:

  • The Brisbane City Council heritage register entry, states that Leswell is of heritage significance because it meets three separate criteria. Two of these specifically include reference to the ‘generous lot’ size and the ‘generous garden setting’ being part of the house’s heritage significance.
  • The proposal argues that the house will still be situated on a 1206 m2 lot and that the majority of the vegetation will be retained after the land is subdivided, so the garden setting will be retained. However, in fact, the footprint of the proposed large extension added to the floor area of the existing house leaves very little open space and garden on the lot. The establishment of houses in picturesque gardens on large allotments was standard practice for any nineteenth century Brisbane gentleman wanting to showcase his wealth and status. Reducing the size of the allotment as significantly as this destroys the evidence of this practice, and diminishes Leswell’s ability to demonstrate the evolution or pattern of Chelmer and Brisbane’s history.
  • Relocating the house will have an unacceptable impact on its heritage significance. In the 19th century, Brisbane’s upper-middle classes purchased large allotments on which to build their grand homes. Siting the house on the highest point of the land was a significant practice at the time; Leswell clearly demonstrates this historical practice. The choice for the original location of the house is also important in relation to the flooding of the local area.
  • It would be hard to find a better example of the iconic ‘Queenslander’ house for which Brisbane and Queensland is so famous.

The proposed development will have a detrimental impact on the heritage significance of Leswell. This is in direct conflict with the performance outcomes PO1, PO2 and PO3 prescribed in the Heritage Overlay Code of the Brisbane City Plan. PO3, in particular, states that ‘Development protects the fabric and setting of the heritage place while providing for its use, interpretation and management’.

You can view all materials via Council’s PD Online website here. If you wish to make an abjection you can use this template Marianne Taylor from The House Detective and I have prepared for you.

This proposal is ‘Impact Assessable’ under Council's City Plan 2014 and residents can make objections. You need to do this in the next couple of weeks.

Have a look at the application details and decide for yourself. If you feel strongly that this is wrong, then please lodge a submission. We have provided a template for you to use if you wish.

If our heritage is important, I am not sure we can afford to be complacent. Just look at the mushrooming apartments and infill lots around the city and you will realise why.

If we can’t save a house like this, with its historical significance and architectural pedigree, then what can we hope to save.

If you want to help click the
image above to download the
objection template. Lodge it here.

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