Broadway Hotel fire in Wooloongabba. Picture: Annette Dew
Broadway Hotel fire in Wooloongabba. Picture: Annette Dew

The ‘salami effect’ killing our heritage

IT WAS midnight, April 20, 1979, when the historic Bellevue Hotel in George St fell to the wrecking ball of the demolition gang.

The demise of the Broadway Hotel at Woolloongabba last week brought back memories of that destruction, carried out at the direction of then premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

The circumstances surrounding the virtual destruction of the 129-year-old Broadway may be different, but it is gone, regardless.

Police are investigating the cause and have declared the site a crime scene. Whatever their investigation may find, it won't bring back the Broadway.

In the same week, the Brisbane City Council acted with unaccustomed alacrity in issuing a temporary protection order preventing the demolition of a World War II air-raid shelter at Milton.

Opposition Leader Peter Cumming said Labor supported the protection order but the council brought the need for it upon itself.

"It's the usual last-minute panic because they didn't do a comprehensive audit of the city, and if resources had been put there originally, this sort of application wouldn't be necessary," he said.

 

An exterior view of the Broadway Hotel in Woolloongabba, before it was burnt out
An exterior view of the Broadway Hotel in Woolloongabba, before it was burnt out

 

Nothing, however, was done to protect the Broadway, which after a previous fire was left in a semi-derelict state.

There was no requirement for the owner to renovate it. An application to develop it by building apartment towers over it was rejected by the council, but nothing else was done.

Kathy Davis, who sits on the Queensland Heritage Council, posted on Facebook that the security gates on the site had been left open.

"I reported the open gates twice on consecutive Fridays to the Government and the police. I tried my best to save this grand old building but it was not enough," she wrote.

Member for South Brisbane Jackie Trad has called for any redevelopment of the site to include restoring the hotel to its original form.

The State Government and the council should be in the business of preserving our architectural history, not replicating it after it has been destroyed.

I spoke last week to a New Farm resident, whose house backs on to a vacant block of land.

 

The Broadway Hotel after the latest blaze. Picture: Annette Dew
The Broadway Hotel after the latest blaze. Picture: Annette Dew

 

It's vacant because the Brisbane City Council declared the pre-1946 house that stood there to be unlivable and gave permission for it to be demolished.

The new owner of the block has submitted a development application to the council to build an ultra-modern home that will effectively be four storeys high and 2m higher than that allowed by the City Plan.

It will be totally out of character with the suburb's architectural heritage, but similar to so many others in this neighbourhood and others that people have been allowed to build.

It's called the Salami Effect. Council brings in building regulations and restrictions, and then relaxes them ever so slightly.

The next person comes along and says: "You allowed that and I only want to build slightly higher and larger." The council says OK.

Then the next person comes along and says: "You allowed that and I only want to go slightly higher," and on it goes.

You keep slicing away until one day, you wake up and there is no salami left. The city's heritage is being sliced away. When are people going to say enough is enough?



Ipswich defence industry turns QLD into the 'khaki state'

premium_icon Ipswich defence industry turns QLD into the 'khaki state'

A Boxer CRV will roll off Rheinmetall's line every three days

Stolen glassware uncovered, actual thief still a mystery

premium_icon Stolen glassware uncovered, actual thief still a mystery

The person behind its disappearance remains unknown

Shopaholic mum busted 32 times

premium_icon Shopaholic mum busted 32 times

Serial offender: I'm not stupid

Local Partners