The house was demolished recently.
The house was demolished recently. Facebook

Old homes destroyed, Mackay heritage lost

MACKAY'S residential history is being lost due to a non-existent heritage protection policy.

That's the view of a Mackay historian, seething after a home cited in a heritage study was knocked to the ground after being deemed dilapidated by its owners, the Department of Housing and Public Works.

Locally, there is no government policy against removing old buildings from residential areas.

The 1994 Mackay Region Pilot Heritage Study considered 45 Macalister St, which was built in the 1920-30s, of "potential heritage value" to the town.

The study sought to set down a methodology for heritage identification in Queensland using historical and architectural themes.

In doing that, it also identified a number of places that were vital for the heritage of Mackay.


A photo of the now demolished house taken in 2005.
A photo of the now demolished house taken in 2005. Glenn Hall

Mackay historian Glen Hall said he believed Mackay has been "pretty lax" with heritage protection compared to other areas.

In Brisbane, the city council has rules to maintain traditional character in residential streets.

Houses built in or before 1946 are to be retained and any extensions or alterations are to complement the traditional building style, according to the Brisbane City Council website page.

Mr Hall doesn't believe the council here is being proactive enough to ensure heritage in Mackay survives.

He said there were no restrictions on demolition in residential areas and thinks better policy needs to be written.

"As for pre-1946 homes, pre-war homes there's just no protections at all. You just put in a development application, there's really not much council can do about it," he said.

Mr Hall said he had crossed off about "one-fifth" of the homes included in the 1994 report over 22 years.


A page taken from the  1994 ' Mackay Region Pilot Heritage Study'
A page taken from the 1994 ' Mackay Region Pilot Heritage Study' Facebook

Mackay Regional Council CEO Craig Doyle said his council's planning scheme protected buildings listed on the town's Heritage Overlay Maps.

"These buildings are all in the CBD, which protects our very complete and extensive collection of art deco buildings," Mr Doyle said.

In older residential areas, the planning scheme's Heritage and Neighbourhood Character Overlay states that new buildings must have certain architectural features to match existing older homes.

However, there was nothing to prevent owners from developing or removing old buildings from residential areas, Mr Doyle said. "The State Government gives us notice, but does not require permits from us to undertake demolitions of buildings in their possession."

In the 1994 report, author Graeme Butler recalled the home being "well preserved" with "large format trellising, panelled verandah supports, folding multi-paned casements and overlapping gabled roof form, an aspect it shares with the more common Californian Bungalow style seen across other states".

Though, that was not the case according to owners of the building the Department of Housing and Public Works.

Since June 2010, the property had been leased by a community housing organisation, but was handed back to the department in May as the house had "fallen into disrepair".

"Upon assessment, our portfolio management team concluded there would be significant barriers to bringing the home up to lettable standard," a department spokesman said.

Before demolition, the department confirmed there were no applicable heritage constraints. Tenders were invited for the removal or demolition of this home, but none were submitted for removal.

The site will be retained for future public housing, the department said.