A court appeal over the future of Plumbs is yet to be finalised.
A court appeal over the future of Plumbs is yet to be finalised.

Public safety paramount: McConaghy

THE Warwick Police raised concerns with the council about the stability of the wall of one of two Plumbs Chambers’ buildings before this week’s closure of Haig Ave.

As reported yesterday, the Southern Downs Regional Council closed Haig Ave on safety grounds, due to concerns about the wall at 84 Fitzroy St next to the avenue, which gives access to the Rose City Shoppingworld car park.

Of particular concern was heavy vehicles which access a turning bay behind Plumbs Chambers and the impact their weight was having on the ageing sandstone wall.

The Plumbs Chambers buildings at 84 and 82 Fitzroy St are at the centre of a legal battle holding up a planned expansion of Rose City.

Canning Downs stud owner John Barnes and architect Geoff Cook have taken the council and Rose City owner the McConaghy Group to court in a bid to save the older of the Plumbs buildings, at 82, and the rear section of 84 from demolition.

The McConaghy Group has committed to restoring the front section of 84, although has not been specific about its use.

A Warwick Police spokesman yesterday said they had been “keeping an eye” on 84 next to Haig Ave for some years and had recently communicated concerns about the wall of the building to the council.

He said the approach had not been a formal one, but police felt there was potential for vehicle movement to further damage the wall.

The wall has been pinned in several places for some years, with pedestrian access in front of Plumbs already blocked off for safety reasons.

Both Plumbs’ buildings are State Heritage listed, although 82 is not on the council’s own local heritage list due to an administrative oversight.

Robert McConaghy yesterday said public safety was his “pre-eminent” concern and all precautions would be taken by the McConaghy Group.

A council spokeswoman said “community members” reported possible movement in the sandstone wall of 84 Fitzroy St last Thursday, with the council immediately closing the avenue.

“An independent engineering report has since certified that the wall is sufficiently stable to allow for ‘very infrequent’ single vehicle truck deliveries to the shopping centre to continue for the next two to three weeks,” the spokeswoman said.

“A further investigation will continue, with a view to installing a stabilising structure.”

Work on state listed buildings needs government approval, but architect and Plumbs’ supporter Geoff Cook said there was nothing preventing the McConaghy Group proceeding with rectification of 84.

“The current legal proceedings have no impact on this and in fact there is probably a common law responsibility on the owner to do work to the building,” Mr Cook said.

“The current closure of Haig Avenue and the footpath offer the opportunity to proceed with restoration or at least temporary shoring up.”

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