Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A chance for Cr. Cochrane to show leadership and say restore

Cairns Regional Council to decide future of Rex Theatre

Daniel Strudwick
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
© The Cairns Post

The future of the Rex Theatre will be decided tomorrow when Cairns Regional Council debates whether to allow it to be demolished.

Much of the heritage-listed building on Sheridan St has already been pulled down, and the owners have submitted an application to the council for permission to finish the job.
But a report to councillors recommends the demolition application be only partly approved to help preserve the facade, which is still intact.

The council is likely to take action against the building’s owners after repeated warnings to stop demolition were ignored.Under the state’s Heritage Act, the maximum fine for damaging a protected building is $1.7 million. Little more than the concrete facade and timber frame now remains of the old theatre, and council officers insisted the remnants were worth preserving. "The cultural significance of the facade is undeniably paramount in that it reflects the style of the time, being the traditional early 1939-1979 cinemas in Cairns," the council report stated.

Engineers’ reports have shown the building was structurally unsound, but the council was likely to impose conditions on the owners to secure and preserve the surviving facade.
The report to councillors recommended the concrete facade be retained and incorporated into any  future developments on the site. The owners first applied to demolish the building in July but started demolition works before being granted proper approvals.

The council issued a notice to stop the unlawful works, but the partial demolition had exposed asbestos that also needed to be removed. The council granted permission to remove only the asbestos-ridden roof sheeting. But in August, they discovered that more unlawful demolition had occurred. "Council considers the removal of the side panels and green ventilation louvres to be excessive and not necessary," the council report stated.

The agents acting on behalf of the building’s owners would not comment on the demolition or the council report.

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My Comment

"Val, I trust the responsible Officers will be brought to account for their failure to bring the matter of the unapproved demolition to Council's attention much sooner then when they did. Had this occurred the 'Rex Theatre' could have been refurbished similar to the 'Plaza' on Mulgrave Rd. Not good enough all round."

Ross Parisi


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