The developers involved in the demolition of a heritage listed property in far North Queensland could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Cairns Regional Council says it has decided to pursue the matter against Eldav Pty Limited, according to a report on Australian Associated Press.
Eldav, which allegedly started dismantling the heritage listed Rex Theatre without approval in September last year, has been charged with carrying out the demolition without permission, failing to comply with an enforcement notice and contravening a development approval.
If found guilty, the company could be fined up to $165,000 for each charge.
Cairns Heritage Society secretary Dr. Dawn May says she is pleased that those involved will be prosecuted, saying developers should not be allowed to get away with demolishing buildings ‘as they please.’
As for a requested change on the part of Eldav to demolish the last section of the building’s façade, May is of two minds, saying there is hardly anything of the structure left but that what does remain may be worth saving as a memory of what the building used to be.
In a statement through its lawyers last year, Eldav said the owners had acted in good faith, believing the theatre was in a dilapidated state and was therefore a danger to the public.
Prior to its destruction, the Sheridan Street building held a great deal of cultural significance within the Cairns community. After it had ceased to be used as a movie theatre, the building was used as a motorcycle gang headquarters and a church.
May, who has previously expressed concerns about Cairns becoming a ‘bland’ city, says the city has very few old buildings left, and that those that remain are fast disappearing.