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Queenslander Renovation And Demolition: What You Need To Know About Brisbane Planning Regulations

For many people in and around Brisbane, the Queenslander home is one of the most iconic property styles in Australia. Designed to cope with the tropical conditions that Brisbane must sometimes withstand, these homes are increasingly under threat from developers, so it's unsurprising that planning regulations now actively protect these famous buildings. If you're planning renovation work on a Queenslander that involves any form of demolition, you need to make sure you carefully consider all planning regulations. Learn more here.

About the Queenslander

Queenslander homes first appeared in Brisbane in the 1840s, and builders continue to use this iconic design in new build projects. Queenslander homes primarily consist of timber, but the design varies considerably across Brisbane. You can find Queenslanders on one or two storeys, and some are high-set on stumps, while others are set on the ground.

High-set Queenslanders are particularly popular. This design gives owners an underfloor area that can actively cool the property above. The design also protects the buildings from pests (including termites) and natural hazards like flooding.

Protection for older homes in Brisbane

Brisbane's City Plan Heritage Register lists protected properties. The Queensland government maintains a similar register. Buildings on the register are crucial to city or state history, and many listed properties are unusual or rare. Some listed properties also have special aesthetic significance.

Any property on the heritage list is subject to strict controls. You can't remodel or demolish any part of the building without planning approval from the local authority. Approval is subject to strict heritage criteria. If you own a Queenslander on the Heritage Register, you'll find it almost impossible to get approval for any change that does not stick within the building's original design confines.

Other forms of protection can also limit your ability to renovate or demolish part (or all) of a Queenslander. You will also need approval if the home is:

  • On a site listed in the Pre-1911 building overlay

  • Listed as rooming accommodation.

  • Within a neighbourhood plan.

In all these situations, it's highly unlikely you will get approval for many types of demolition work. What's more, you may also need approval to demolish any free standing buildings on the property, including sheds and garages.

How to find out if your home is protected

You cannot assume whether any building is or is not protected. While most Queenslanders are subject to some type of protection, you should still always confirm the details. A real estate agent should give you this information before you buy a property, but the only way to get completely accurate information is to contact the planning authority for the local council.

How to adapt your plans

While complete demolition of a Queenslander is seldom likely to receive approval, by talking to the authorities, you can sometimes adapt your plans in a way that may get planning consent. In all cases, the authorities will want confidence that the proposed work is in keeping with the original design and character of the building. As such, demolition work that allows you to restore a Queenslander to its original condition could actually receive approval.

Think about the design of the street and the shape of the buildings. Do your plans stay within the classic design elements of a Queenslander? It's sometimes useful to hire an experienced architect to adapt your plans to meet the approval requirements in your suburb. Think carefully about the materials you intend to use to replace demolished areas. If you can stick to the sort of materials that builders used with the original Queenslanders, you may get approval from the planning authority. For example, work to restore an original transverse gable would probably meet with the planners' approval.

Some minor demolition work is exempt from planning rules for some properties, as well, although you should always confirm the exact details before you start work. As long as the building is not on the Heritage Register, you may not need approval to demolish certain features, such as an internal wall or stairway.

If you want to renovate or demolish a Queenslander home in Brisbane, you need to make sure you don't break any planning laws. There may even be similar laws that apply if you live in other areas. Contact a demolition expert or the local planning authority for more advice if you're planning any changes to your home.