Landmark faces axe

DEMOLITION work on the historic Plumb's Chambers in Warwick has moved a step closer, with the State Government giving the green light to knock down one half of the site.

The move is in preparation for the massive expansion of Rose City Shoppingworld and comes despite objections to the looming loss of a piece of Darling Downs heritage going back nearly 150 years.

Councillors will on Wednesday discuss a report on last month's approval by the State Department of Environment and Resource Management to demolish the brick and timber former Cantors building (pictured closest) at 82 Fitzroy Street.

Both it and the larger stone building next door at number 84 are State heritage-listed, with Rose City Shoppingworld owners the McConaghy Group also having applied to demolish the rear section of 84.

The Southern Downs Regional Council officially has the final say but is understood to have little choice legally other than to tick off the State's approval - which has taken more than a year to be finalised - or risk costly legal action.

McConaghy Group owner Robert McConaghy yesterday declined to comment on the demolitions, saying they were part of the overall vision for an expanded Rose City, plans for which were yet to be finalised.

Previous council reports have stated the McConaghy Group will take on the cost of improvements to the larger Plumb's building at 84 Fitzroy Street and will incorporate it into the expanded Shoppingworld.

But it is understood their stance on number 82 is that it is too far gone structurally to viably restore.

In a bizarre twist to the tale, the council yesterday confirmed 82 Fitzroy Street has never been on its own heritage list, apparently having been mistakenly left off by a consultant who put the list together more than a decade ago.

“Because 82 is not on our list, this is nothing to do with council during the process,” a spokeswoman said.

Plumb's Chambers dates back to the Warwick building boom of the 1860s with both buildings having gone through a range of commercial and residential uses down through the years, also being known at one time as the Medical Hall.

The larger stone building to remain at 84 Fitzroy Street is important for its association with Warwick chemist and “seedsman” David Clarke, integral to the expansion of Warwick agriculture in the 1860s and 1870s.

The rear section which is slated to be demolished is a later extension.

Objections to the demolitions were originally lodged in September last year and include one from John Barnes, who owns the iconic property Canning Downs, the site of Warwick's birth.

In his written submission Mr Barnes stated demolition of Plumb's Chambers would mean “part of the unique character of Warwick is lost forever”.

Mayor Ron Bellingham is overseas in Japan this weekend and was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Councillors on the Planning and Development Committee will review the officers' report on Plumb's Chambers at their meeting on Tuesday morning.

From there they will recommend the final position council should adopt at its general meeting the following week.

The recommendation of council's planning officers is to require the McConaghy Group to provide details of how the portion of Plumb's Chambers to be retained will blend in with an expanded Rose City Shoppingworld.

Points here include “pavement treatments” and “sympathetic vehicle protection methods” as well as the intended future re-use of the building.

More next week.



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