Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm sitting in a void

According to the documents lodged with Brisbane City Council today, I'm currently sitting in a void within the building which is to replace the Albion Love Den.

That's right, the development application is seeking to demolish this gorgeous old girl and build in its stead a 3-storey unit complex consisting of 11 very small 2-bedroom units (only 75sq m each!), an office built right on the Sandgate Road frontage, keeping the old shop and also knocking down the asbestos-laden storage building next door. This is the jewel within their crown, as the building houses the reason for the heritage listing - a 1930s brick baker's oven, which they hope will be restored and used in a future courtyard.

The developers do have a bit of an up-hill task ahead of them. Firstly, there's the Heritage Listing itself, which they have argued is erroneous to have the house included. The original Heritage documents cited the shop with attached residence as an important signpost of the inter-war period development of Albion. The problem is that the house is not actually attached to the shop or the old bakery. In addition, they argue, the house has been "extensively-, unsympathetically- and irreversibly-altered" which essentially cancels out its Heritage value.

They are also using this argument to try to convince Council to ignore the Demolition Control Precinct which also exists over both the shop and the house. Demolition Control was an important streetscape-saving Heritage measure put in place by the Soorley administration (I think) which states that if there are 3 properties in a row which were built prior to 1946 and displayed typical architectural styles of the era, then they were to be saved. This may be their sticking point, I feel. Despite what they claim was unsympathetic alterations, these were primarily internal the house was divided into units sometime in the 60s, I think) and did not significantly change the street view of the house. They claim, however, that the building in of the verandas on the front and side of the house have canceled out its historic value and hence should be excluded from the DCP.

So that's where it's at. I'm kind of relieved to have confirmation that there is finally something happening. It's been nearly 2 years since old mate Ray sold up, and the speculation going around has been frustrating. I have mixed feelings about the development itself, which may be part nimbyism, part sadness at the likely loss of my old girl, and part angst that another chunk of Brisbane history (albeit a small chunk) is most probably going to get bulldozed to make way for another corporately bland "modern" development devoid of soul and style (or "Leggo" type developments which are infecting our urban landscape, according to my mate Jules).

There is an internal conflict in my psyche, however, as the development completely fits into my view of sustainable urban development - high density mixed use projects, close to public transport and amenities to reduce the sprawl and hence reliance on cars. I'm keen to write up a response during the public submission phase of the development, but I fear I'm just not too concerned about the actual physical buildings and future of them.

After 10 years here (celebrating the milestone this month, I think!) I know it's time to move on, and I'm happy to do so. I just wish the rents would reduce a little... sheesh, it's madness out there! I did speak to the real estate this week, and they anticipate we'll get at least another six month lease, which is a relief. My mate Geoff also spoke to the architects who anticipate nothing would get going until at least 2010, so there's some time.

Now I've just got to get back to enjoying the void.

3 comments:

Dr Yobbo said...

Good luck with it mate. I get the cognitive dissonance thing. High density urban living is probably more sustainable in built up urban areas... but it's very sad to lose the old Qlders.

Big Bad Al said...

Are you going to stay around the Five Ways or are you going to venture further afield?

Jamin (AKA Blue Box) said...

Not sure yet, Al. Being public transport reliant, I will need to stick fairly close to the train line. Rents, however, are extortionate around here at the moment.

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