Opponents unite on ‘Fenton’ plans to move house

imageBy Mike O’Connor

A proposal to move one of New Farm’s most historic, heritage-listed residences to make way for a three-storey townhouse has been blasted by architects, academics and Brisbane Central MLA Grace Grace.

The house, “Fenton’’ at 388 Bowen Terrace, was designed by renowned architect Robin Dods and built in 1907.

 Under the proposal, the building would be moved forward, reducing its setback from Bowen Terrace from the present 25m to 6m with some of the gardens destroyed.

The townhouse would then be built behind the house.

In filing an objection to the proposal, Ms Grace said it negatively impacted on the cultural significance of the property by demolishing the gardens and damaging its heritage character. 

Professor John Macarthur, a New Farm resident and Professor of Architectural History at the University of Queensland, said the proposed development negatively impacted on the heritage significance of the building and was inconsistent with Brisbane City Council planning objectives.

“The buildings of Robin Dods are of outstanding architectural merit, highly characteristic of Brisbane and a touchstone of civic identity,” Professor Macarthur said.

The development, he said, would make “a nonsense of any claim we might have to understand our built heritage”.

His claims were echoed by Professor Don Watson,Adjunct Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Queensland.

“The changes proposed for ‘Fenton’ are entirely inappropriate for a house of this architectural and historical importance and should be rejected.

“R.S. Dods, the architect of ‘Fenton’, was possibly Queensland’s greatest-ever architect. 

“That ‘Fenton’ was the residence of E. G. Theodore, a notable Queensland Premier and a great Australian, adds to its importance,” he said.

“The detail treatment proposed for ‘Fenton’ is unrelated to its distinguished architectural pedigree and treats the house like a generic Queenslander of the early 20th century,” Professor Watson said.

Ross Garnett, president of the New Farm and Districts Historical Society, said members of the society were dismayed at the proposed redevelopment.

“It’s a beautiful home that holds great historical significance,” said Mr Garnett. 

“Raising this house will profoundly alter the proportions of this very typical Robin Dods’ design and moving the house closer to the road will reduce the substantial garden which is major streetscape feature and presents a fitting entrance to this very significant house,” he said.

Heritage architect and local resident Louise Noble said the proposed redevelopment of “Fenton” made an “absolute mockery of our current heritage protections”.

She said it would irreparably damage the setting of the house by demolishing the extensive gardens, moving it forward on the block, raising the house up on brick piers and building in underneath.

It would also damage the historic fabric of the heritage house by alterations to the existing brick fireplaces and the construction of an internal staircase, Ms Noble said.

Comments
8 Responses to “Opponents unite on ‘Fenton’ plans to move house”
  1. Robyn Whalw says:

    Please protect our heratige

  2. Leigh Steindl says:

    This was the family home of the Steindl family for over half a century and was faithfully restored to its 1930 condition in the late 1900′s.Both local and state governments and Heritage Authorities should strongly object and prevent this development

  3. Russ. says:

    Oxley lane is not able to handle anymore entrances to properties. Parking is already very limited, without more access points in the street.

    As well as the above, it’s heritage listed and hence not be moved.

  4. Dan Kelly says:

    House by house, suburb by suburb the heritage of Brisbane is destroyed by developers and in some cases the homeowner. The people we elect are there to serve the community and ensure the areas of heritage value are protected. Most of the new houses today look like office blocks rather than homes – practical but absolutely no character. Just look at what is on the river today.

    When will we get our elected representatives serving the majority rather than the minorities?

    • I drove up Bowen Tce to see for myself this historic home. I stood at the gate in late afternoon and my eyes followed the path and then saw the absolutely beautiful home and immediately understood that it cannot be moved. It would be like walking up to someone and being face on face and would feel very uncomfortable. The garden is designed to capture your interest and lead you to the house. I have been privileged to live in Moray St near the junction of Sydney and observe with much appreciation how a great old lady can be brought back to her former glory. A neighbour asked why it was taking so long and I said I believe because it is heritage listed they must work to set specifications and be signed off at each stage. I may be wrong. Why can these people break the rules and ruin the balance of such a lovely site

  5. Russ. says:

    Council have rejected the proposition. In this case works will not commence. However I’m unsure if the developers can submit a different plan for council to consider.

  6. Michael says:

    Developer has appealed this decision on the 20th of July. Fenton is not safe yet.

  7. Jayne says:

    We must protect these beautiful old houses, and the gardens that they sit within. Why would anyone want to destroy our heritage? It all comes down to money and greed doesn’t it? People travel thousands of kilometres to see old houses, villages, cities, gardens, and yet in Brisbane our heritage is being destroyed and demolished. Hopefully this will not be allowed.

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