Redland Council should protect our heritage

Willards Farm is an important part of the Redlands heritage

Willards Farm

The new Draft City Plan confirms the very obvious lack of concern shown by Redland City Council for matters of cultural heritage – in particular our rapidly disappearing heritage buildings.

The Plan’s section on Environment and Heritage has almost nothing to say about preserving our built heritage. By saying nothing, it speaks volumes.

The sad plight of our most important pioneer farming property, Willards Farm in Birkdale, is a case in point. Shame Redland City Council, shame!

Relocation of the Willards homestead

In its dealings with heritage properties, Council is supposed to be guided by the Burra Charter (a surprisingly easy to read document).  Section 9 states:

The physical location of a place is part of its cultural significance.A building, work or other element of a place should remain in its historical location. Relocation is generally unacceptable unless this is the sole practical means of ensuring its survival.

Mayes Cottage in Logan City is in the Queensland Heritage Register

Mayes Cottage in Logan City is listed in the Queensland Heritage Register

Relocation is a poor second option. Willards Farm is far superior to Mayes Cottage at Logan, which is protected and valued by Logan City Council.

Willard’s Farm could be used as an educational precinct for school children/tourists etc. to show how the Redlands began. School teachers are now required to teach local history as part of the National Curriculum.

Soon we will have nothing to show the children (or the tourists) because it has all been scraped off for developers. The tour guide will have to say something like:

This nondescript townhouse complex used to be the site of our first (insert building). If you are lucky someone might have an old photo to show how it looked – no, wait, that was demolished before anyone had a chance to get a photo. Well children, just try to imagine!

At least when someone demolished G J Walter’s historic bakery in the early 1990’s the Shire Chairman of the time, Len Keogh was so outraged by that event that he wrote to the paper about it. As a result a Heritage Library was established. How the tables have turned!

It is encouraging that Cr Mark Edwards recently brought an urgent motion to Council requesting that the Redland Investment Corporation investigate the purchase of Willards Farm in a bid to save it. It’s about time Cr Paul Bishop had some support. All credit to him and to the Birkdale Progress Association for their valiant efforts to save this property.

How did we get to this desperate stage?

I would like to know how things have been allowed to get to this desperate stage? Council could have chosen to protect Willards Farm – one of the most valuable and oldest heritage properties in the city – by adding it to their Heritage Places Register years ago. This would not have cost anything – a lot less expensive than trying to purchase the property at the eleventh hour.

This is an utterly shameful state of affairs! Perhaps it is not widely known that other than a few State Listed properties, hardly any privately owned dwellings are listed on Council’s current Heritage Places Register. A similarly inadequate list of heritage protected properties constitutes Schedule 7 of the Draft City Plan (page 407).

Council’s failure to protect privately owned properties which have heritage significance is undoubtedly due to fear of a backlash from owners. People are under the false impression that owners of listed properties will be severely restricted in what they can do. But this is not necessarily so.

Putting a pretty heritage sign out the front is not enough either – in fact, it is false advertising by Council. I wonder how many people realise that those signs don’t mean a property is protected. Even more ironic is the fact that those signs are now falling apart and being neglected by Council!

This alone sends a clear message to tourists that the Redlands doesn’t care about its heritage.

Save our places of cultural significance

The Burra Charter preamble states:

Places of cultural significance enrich people’s lives, often providing a deep and inspirational sense of connection to community and landscape, to the past and to lived experiences. They are historical records, that are important expressions of Australian identity and experience. Places of cultural significance reflect the diversity of our communities, telling us about who we are and the past that has formed us and the Australian landscape. They are irreplaceable and precious.

These places of cultural significance must be conserved for present and future generations…

Come on Mayor Williams, it’s time for Council to start listing our valuable private heritage dwellings before it’s too late. We know that many properties of heritage significance were identified by the Council in 1995,  by Urbis in 2002, and by RPS in 2012

Had listing been done sooner, we might have avoided the disgraceful drama playing out over Willards Farm.

If this property is lost, or even relocated away from its current historical context, the current Redland City Council will be indicted as the one that failed to honour the pioneers who laid the very foundations of this city!

Redlands residents concerned about heritage preservation should check out what the Draft City Plan 2015 has to say. It won’t take long because there’s not much there. Try doing a Ctrl F search on “heritage’.

Then make a submission asking the Council to include a proper assessment of the Redlands local heritage including privately owned properties. The deadline for submissions is 27 November 2015.

Gwen Hollyman

Victoria Point

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5 thoughts on “Redland Council should protect our heritage

  1. In the course of time Willard Farm may yet be State listed.
    State Heritage looked at the farm site and recommended that a few months back. That’s on file. The State Heritage Council itself , however, for whatever reason, decided not to place it on the official State Heritage Register. Perhaps that was something to do with the mess the whole thing presented because Council had ducked and weaved around its failure to follow up on previous reports like that of URBIS to place it at least on local register. So unless Council gets itself sorted out on its heritage responsibilities there are going to be more disasters.
    But with Commonwealth Land divestment coming up, heritage know-how is vital. That’s got links to Willard farm. Or is it advantageous to be heritage-blind?

  2. The Draft City Plan shows further withdrawal of heritage protection with the Heritage Overlay removed from State listed property and the Character Precinct Overlay removed from Wellington Point, Whepstead and Shore St North, Cleveland. Without any published Heritage Policy council appears to have no plans to increase heritage protection across the City or encourage the owners of heritage homes to have their property listed and protected. This will lead to the further destruction of our heritage – many properties have already been demolished. The debacle over Willard’s Farm highlights the lack of diligence of past councils with regard to heritage and this council is making it worse.

  3. Quote from post above.. “It is encouraging that Cr Mark Edwards recently brought an urgent motion to Council requesting that the Redland Investment Corporation investigate the purchase of Willards Farm in a bid to save it. It’s about time Cr Paul Bishop had some support”.
    Could Cr. Edwards please tell us why he and Crs. Paul Gleeson, Julie Talty and Kim Maree Hardman along with other Williams supporters wrote submissions asking for the Commonwealth land including Willards Farm to be transferred to Div. 9 which is Cr. Gleeson’s division?
    Why did they want this area moved into Div. 9 when it only involves 5 residents?Cr. Paul Bishop has worked extremely hard to save this area along with Willards Farm and I would like to know the reason why the four councillors and supporters wanted this land moved to Div 9, Cr. Paul Gleeson’s division? I would like an answer.

    • Yes indeed. And why haven’t we heard any reassurances from Cr Gleeson? Or is that “puppet” Gleeson? If this wasn’t about snatching the Pines away from a councillor who is fighting hard to protect it, then what was it? So Cr Gleeson, are you going to continue the fight for this precious treasure that has been entrusted to you? I think not! Your silence also speaks volumes.

  4. The Williams Administration will go down in Redlands history as having shown no respect, caring or values for heritage buildings from what I see and hear. Ron Loney, ex-Ray White Capalaba real estate agent, a popular and prolific developer today, under name of Ausbuild. I recall being approached by resident in Coles, asking I look at a first of his projects in the building industry. Location was next to heritage listed Whepsted Manor. Locals considered it totally inappropriate next to a heritage listed homestead. Developers have no respect or caring for anything other than it seems squeezing in as many units/dwellings as possible into land they develop leaving little or no open space causing disharmony and ill will in the Redlands community whose voices remain unheard.

    Suddenly changing boundary of Commonwealth land together with Willard Homested built in mid-1800’s from Birkdale into Capalaba has come as a shock for reasons best known to Mayor and her team who decide what is best for us all in secret meetings with developers. Sadly, our Federal Member for Bowman, Andrew Laming, who advised saving the Commonwealth land for the community, has let us down. Again, developers win, the community lose what rightfully belongs to them. I would like to believe I’m wrong but still see the angry frustrated faces of Mayor & Capalaba’s Cr Gleeson in council when Cr Bishop was speaking on heritage listing Willard Homestead and abruptly silenced by Mayor.

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