DEVELOPERS who flout character housing provisions to demolish protected homes will face penalties up to $550,000.
The harsh penalties were moved forward as part of a raft of building legislation changes brought in by the State Government last week. The laws were fast-tracked in response to outrage at character homes being demolished at Stafford St, East Brisbane, and Power St, Norman Park.
The owner of the cottage in Stafford St was fined $7000 in the Planning and Environment Court last month after pleading guilty to the charges. He is now marketing half of the land as “the last vacant land in East Brisbane” for $730,000.
Under the legislation, the maximum penalty for development offences increased from $202,963 to $548,550.
Deputy Premier and Planning Minister Jackie Trad said the penalties were slated to come into effect in July, but were brought forward to ensure the immediate protection of the character of local communities.
“(Power St and Stafford St) were instrumental in demonstrating the need for better processes between the planning regime and the building regulations but also bigger penalties that I think will deter illegal demolition activities,” she said.
Ms Trad said she was confident increased penalties would send a strong message to unscrupulous private certifiers and developers.
“It certainly signals an intention among the state regulator that this type of activity should be penalised at a much higher rate,” she said.
“We are experiencing enormous and rapid growth in our city but we don’t want that to come at the expense of our historical and character housing which is a very important part of Brisbane’s identity.”
The changes also ensure private certifiers gain local government planning approval before building approvals can be issued, including when character houses are demolished.
State Labor MP for Bulimba Di Farmer said the laws also allowed for a Temporary Local Planning Instrument made by a council to have immediate effect, which would protect provisions such as the masterplan for redevelopment of the Bulimba Barracks.
Ms Farmer said the other big change also prevented the Planning and Environment Court from awarding costs against those who challenged developments.
“Queenslanders can once again appeal planning decisions without the fear of having hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs awarded against them,” Ms Farmer said.
Originally Published: http://www.couriermail.com.au/