Stop work order on demolition of former Rex Theatre in Cairns
DEVELOPERS working on a heritage-listed Cairns property could face fines of more than $1 million for dismantling parts of the building without council approval.
Cairns Regional Council officers have issued a stop-work notice and asked the owner to explain why work began on the Rex Theatre, which was built in 1932, without gaining appropriate approvals.
Mayor Val Schier said an investigation into the development at the Sheridan St site was under way and the owner may be issued with a fine.
"It is quite improper of someone to have gone ahead and done what they have done without letting council know," she told The Cairns Post.
"It is on the local heritage list, and hence, there needed to be an approval. Certainly it is a building of historical significance and a lot of people associated with it in the early days of Cairns.
"No determination has been made at this stage, but certainly they have been asked to explain what is going on."
The building is on the Cairns Regional Council heritage list, but is not on the state or national register.
Under the Queensland Heritage Act, the maximum fine for damaging a protected building is $1.7 million.
Cairns Historical Society vice-president Les Sim said the building had a colourful history, having been used as a motorcycle gang headquarters and a church since it ceased operation as a movie theatre.
He said he noticed work being carried out on the building.
"It is concerning the local council had to wait until it was almost demolished until they said anything," he said.
Cr Alan Blake said there were also asbestos concerns.
The building owners could not be contacted for comment yesterday.