Stud owner lashes Govt for demolition of Plumb's Chambers

INTERESTING CONTRAST: Canning Downs owner and heritage campaigner John Barnes says it’s just as well the State Government isn’t charged with deciding the fate of Rome’s Colosseum, as it is with Plumb’s Chambers.
INTERESTING CONTRAST: Canning Downs owner and heritage campaigner John Barnes says it’s just as well the State Government isn’t charged with deciding the fate of Rome’s Colosseum, as it is with Plumb’s Chambers. Filethinkstock

A LOCAL heritage campaigner has lashed the State Government for what he says was a lack of proper process in approving the demolition of Plumb's Chambers.

Canning Downs stud owner John Barnes - who has previously offered to buy the pair of buildings and restore them himself - claims the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection failed to prove as required by its own guidelines "the fundamental test" that restoring Plumb's Chambers would be "economically prohibitive".

He also states that no proof, in the form of an economic model, has been produced that there is no "prudent or feasible alternative to demolition" as stated in the guidelines, and has offered to hire an independent expert at his own cost to review the government's decision.

Plumb's Chambers on Fitzroy St next to the police station stands in the way of a planned expansion of Rose City Shoppingworld, with owners the McConaghy Group planning to demolish the older of the two buildings - thought to be Queensland's oldest shop - to construct a truck loading bay.

In a letter this week to the office of Minister Andrew Powell Mr Barnes contrasts the State's attitude to Plumb's with the Colosseum and other buildings in Rome, where he recently visited.

"The city's 2000-year-old buildings have somehow survived the sackings of Visigoths, Vandals and other barbarian tribes, as well as pillage by its own citizens seeking a cheap source of building materials," Mr Barnes wrote.

"Despite having a government and bureaucracy not noted for efficiency, Italians recognise the value of their historic buildings and the enormous cultural and economic benefit they derive.

"Returning to Warwick, it seems we struggle to preserve our buildings beyond 150 years.

"We should be grateful that the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection isn't charged with determining the fate of the Colosseum, which is in far worse condition."

While Mr Barnes remains adamant he is not opposed to the shopping centre expansion, he is still insistent the Plumb's buildings could be fully restored and incorporated into the redevelopment.

Mr Powell's chief of staff Troy Collings said in a letter to Mr Barnes in October the Department gave "appropriate weight" to his offer to buy Plumb's but said it "could not be enforced".

"The department has taken a consistent approach to assessment of the economic impact of requiring retention of the (older) building, as an alternative to demolition," Mr Collings stated.

"It was appropriate to take into account that heritage significance would be lost under any scenario, given its advanced state of decay."

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Topics:  canning downs plumbs chambers

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