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Partial Demolition of Shafston House

To the Assessment Manager,

I am writing in relation to development application A005653605 lodged over 23 Castlebar Street, Kangaroo Point, formally known as Lot 10 on RP135198. I am writing this submission as the Member of Parliament for the area in which the development is proposed, to reinforce the concerns local residents have raised, and to encourage you to ensure these concerns are appropriately reflected in your decision.

Community consultation

I understand that the public notification requirements set under Planning Act 2016  and the City Plan 2014 have been met by the applicant. However, I would like to acknowledge that the applicant has not attempted to consult the community about the proposed works. As Shafston House is a Queensland Heritage Place and is considered to be the third oldest house in Brisbane, any proposal to change the amenity of this house should involve an attempt at community consultation.

Since there was no attempt for consultation made by the applicant, I held independent community consultation activities to make the community aware of this development and to gauge the public response. These activities included a pop-up office in a neighbourhood cafe on Saturday 29 May, a community meeting on 1 June, and a community action on 7 June. I have ascertained from these meetings that there is little to no support for this application, and rather the community are determined to ensure the property is protected, both from demolition, and potential future developments on the surrounding land.

Intent of the application

I understand that the applicant is angling this proposal as “removing modern additions to restore Shafston House to its original form”, but my interpretation of the application is that the developer is attempting to minimise the footprint as much as possible to maximise space for further development. To this end, I am asking that you provide a further issues notice requesting structural plans for future development of this site. This will clarify whether the applicant truly is lodging this development application for the purposes of “restoring Shafston House to its original form” or preparing for future development which will greatly hinder the amenity of the site. 

As the site is zoned for 15 storeys, your assessment should take into consideration the potential impact of future developments on Shafston House and the neighbouring area. Kangaroo Point is already the site of numerous new multi-storey developments, and the neighbourhood is under significant strain in terms of greenspace, public transport, parking, and affordable and social housing. Future developments on the Shafston House site would not only impact on the heritage aspects of the neighbourhood, but would impact on a neighbourhood already under strain from overdevelopment.

Noncompliance with State and local heritage codes

The proposed development is noncompliant with the State Development Assessment Provisions - State Code 14: Queensland heritage, which requires that any development of a Queensland Heritage Place will:

“conserve cultural heritage significance for the benefit of the community and future generations, minimise or mitigate unavoidable impacts on cultural heritage significance, maintain or enhance the setting and streetscape adjoining the state heritage place, and views to and from the state heritage place, where these aspects form part of its cultural heritage significance.”

The applicant has proposed that the sections of Shafston House marked for removal are of limited heritage value, having been constructed more recently than other parts of the house. However, the entire site is protected as a Queensland Heritage Place, not simply the core house. In addition, the significant, 150-year-old fig tree on the site, which is also marked for removal, as well as other trees on the property, are of great value to the setting and streetscape of Shafston House.

The proposed partial demolition does not comply with Brisbane City Council’s Heritage overlay code, which states that:

“Development on or adjoining a heritage place does not detract from the cultural heritage significance of that heritage place.”

Removing aspects of Shafston House will detract from the cultural significance of the building. 

Shafston House is very significant under several of the Queensland Heritage Register criteria.

  1. b) The place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

Shafston House is considered to be the third oldest house standing in Brisbane. Any remaining buildings from the 1800s should be retained to benefit the surrounding community and the whole of Queensland. Shafston House is one of the few heritage properties that has been kept on its large riverfront lot.

  1. c) The place has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Queensland’s history.

The House can provide further information on way of life in the 1800s.

  1. d) The place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

Shafston House demonstrates the type of large lot, riverside houses that were prevalent in Brisbane in the 1800s.

  1. e) The place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

Shafston House is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture – it is a landmark along the Brisbane River and in views from New Farm across the river. Shafston House has a great aesthetic contribution to the Brisbane riverscape.

Future actions

Recently, the Major Amendment K to the Brisbane City Plan 2014  provided protections for Lamb House, a neighbouring heritage building. Lamb House is now protected from development on the surrounding grounds, and the community and I feel strongly that a similar protection should be applied to Shafston House. I ask that council enforce a similar set of protections on Shafston House, by:

  • Changing the zone of the subject site to Character residential zone
  • Adding this site to Traditional building character overlay
  • Adding the site to the Significant tree overlay (for protection of the 150 year old fig tree on the site)

As aforementioned, I would also ask that you provide a further issues notice requesting structural plans for future development of this site.

Please do not hesitate to contact my office on 3724 9100 if you would like to discuss this matter in more detail.


Kind regards,

Amy MacMahon

Member for South Brisbane

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